You know what today is? It’s my Birthday! And I fully intend to have my cake and EAT IT TOO!!
When we restrict and deprive ourselves of foods we love, we tend to fixate and obsess over them more than ever! And when we do allow ourselves even a taste of that food, we go crazy, eat tons of it and feel guilty!
This is a sad way to move through life, yet many of the people I work with can’t imagine being able to eat a piece of cake on their own birthdays for fear of weight gain or “unhealthy” food intake.
Let’s break that cycle! Foods are meant as much for pleasure and satisfaction as they are for nutrition. It’s okay to enjoy a wide variety of foods with varying degrees of nutritional value, including birthday cake! Our bodies are very wise, and if we listen to them, they give us all sorts of information that helps our weight to be stable.
Here are my top 3 strategies to go ahead and enjoy your cake without any food guilt!
- By allowing yourself to eat all the foods you desire (i.e., cake), you create a true sense of food freedom; simply eat the cake and be done with it. Cake is not good, or bad. It has no morality surrounding it. The more you can practice allowing yourself to have what you want, the easier it will become to feel satisfied, rather than going crazy around your food choices. This is the first principle of a method called Intuitive Eating.
- Start by making a list of all the foods that appeal to you. Put a check by foods you currently eat and circle those you do not allow yourself.
- Pick one food you’ve been denying and give yourself full permission to eat it.
- Instead of mindlessly putting food in your mouth, start to simply PAY ATTENTION.
- Notice the look, feel of the food, its smell, texture and taste. Notice your emotions before and after eating. See if you can slow down the pace of eating so you can fully taste your food.
- Start to pay attention to how the food makes you feel. Does it fill you up? Hurt your stomach? Make you smile? These are all parts of learning to pay attention to the way food makes you feel in your mind and body.
- Just like learning to savor your food, you can learn to recognize the messages of your body. Your body lets you know when you are tired! You might even yawn. Your body lets you know when it needs the restroom. If you truly listen to it, your body will let you know when you are hungry and when you are full. It’s as simple as that.
These three strategies allow me to enjoy my birthday without guilt and I can choose to enjoy whatever foods appeal to me. Eating in this manner, referred to as Intuitive Eating, allows me to be flexible with my food choices.
The bottom line is, life is too short to be consumed with every morsel of food we eat.
If you want to explore more on gentle nutrition and intuitive eating, the best way is to join my introductory online course, “Dipping your Toes into Intuitive Eating.”
This program will show you:
- Why diets don’t work (Hint: it’s not YOUR fault, but the fault of diets and diet culture).
- How using mindfulness can help you become more aware of your body’s innate sensations of hunger and fullness.
- How satisfaction is the missing key to discovering authentic nutrition.
- Why “emotional eating” is often demonized yet holds the key to feeling better about your food and body image!
- That you have many wonderful qualities on the inside, as we focus on becoming whole from the inside out.
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
Download our Free Intuitive Eating Guide and get off that Diet Roller Coaster for good!