Food rules - two words that should not be paired together, but usually are.
If you're a living breathing human, you've probably identified with some sort of structured rules around food at one point or another. For a huge portion of my life, I let food rules manipulate my thoughts, completely taking the joy out of eating. Now that I've had a taste of life without food rules, I wanted to share 5 of them that you can cut OUT of your life to be a happier you.
1. I Can Only Eat (Insert Food Here) On (Insert Day Here).
One of the more insane things I've done in my life was tell myself it was only acceptable to have pizza on a Friday or Saturday night. In hindsight, I can't pinpoint the craziness that made me live my life this way. I think it has something to do with the fact that we view the work week as more structured and rigid, along with food choices. With Fridays and Saturdays came the light-hearted feeling of freedom - allowing a little flexibility in my mindset. Please, allow yourself all foods...at all times. Nothing should be off-limits, ever. Putting strict limits on when you can and can't eat something leads to an obsession with that certain food - even if you don't really want it.
2) I'll Eat It ONLY If I Burn It Off Later This could, in my opinion, be the most debilitating food rule to have for yourself. The one way to take all enjoyment out of eating is to tell yourself that you need to earn it or go and lose it after you've enjoyed it. Food, in every sense, never needs to be justified. When you indulge in a delicious meal or snack, even outside your comfort zone, you don't have to account for it by burning off that number of calories. Besides, all this rule does is make you miserable and workout as punishment, which is the one reason you should NEVER work out.
3) It's Allowed If It's the "Healthy" Version I feel very strongly about this topic. I actually wrote an entire blog post about it here. Healthy alternatives are not always what they appear to be, and they are always much less satisfying than enjoying the regular version. Would you go to the mall with fewer stores when there's a bigger, better mall right down the road with the exact shop you're looking for? I didn't think so. The same concept applies to eating.
4) I Can Only Have a Bite This one is one of the more toxic food rules that I used to brainwash myself with. I would be hungry from depriving myself of all delicious foods, then buy something that would be considered a "treat." I'd promise myself I could only have a bite, a square, or a piece - whatever it was, under the false pretense that the small amount would satisfy me. Then, I would throw it away. I would throw it out my car window to stop me from having any more. You guys - do you realize how insane that sounds? It's one of my more shameful past habits that I hate to admit, because I felt THAT out of control around foods that I thought were "bad" for me. Do not do this. Depriving yourself from fully enjoying food will leave you feeling worse than before, and even more focused on the food. When you're about to eat something you really enjoy, take it slow. Enjoy the flavor, and eat mindfully.
5) I Can Only Eat This Alone
This is a little more uncommon, but you'd be surprised how much it happens. People who regularly exercise and promote a "healthy" lifestyle feel vulnerable and unauthentic enjoying some foods in public. I used to feel certain levels of this and know how it feels - but you need to learn to enjoy all foods around your friends, family, and strangers. Eating should never feel shameful. My recommendation to anyone struggling with only wanting to indulge in private is to take steps to be more of a social eater. Invite a friend out for dessert! Post an Instagram story of the amazing dinner you just cooked. Have your family over for a meal. Each time you truly enjoy food in a more public setting, it gets easier to adjust to.