I have noticed a very common pattern when talking with people about their food choices,
whether I am working directly with clients or just in conversation with friends/others. People
can be so hard on themselves when it comes to their eating habits! I hear of people putting
post-it notes up with negative messages to remind themselves to stick to their diet–and even
remember seeing some of these notes in people’s rooms in college. I also repeatedly hear
people saying they’ve been “bad” because they haven’t eaten as well as they feel they should
have or haven’t been sticking to the diet they are trying to follow.
One of my favorite quotes is from the book Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program that
Works: “Having a healthy relationship with food means you are not morally superior or inferior
based on your eating choices.” I think this quote is pretty powerful and something I often try to
remind people. Of course, it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we haven’t been eating as well as
we’d like, because we are constantly bombarded with different messages related to food/our
bodies. Even some snack packages have “guilt free” written on them, making it seem that we
should feel guilty about certain food choices! But it’s important to remind ourselves that our
food choices do not make us a “good” or “bad” person.
Think back to a day when you may not have eaten the “healthiest.” How did you go forward
after that? Did you continuously tell yourself you messed up/shouldn’t have done that, or did
you accept it and try to move on? If you’re not sure how you responded afterwards, next time
try to pay attention. You may notice that if you are able to be kinder to yourself and move
forward, it’s a lot easier to continue to work on diet changes to take care of your health. On the
other hand, if you continue to tell yourself how bad you’ve been for eating a certain way, it may
keep you stuck in that cycle!
A couple takeaways in wrapping up…
*If you find that you didn’t eat the way you meant to/wanted to at your previous meal,
remember each meal and snack is a new chance to take care of yourself. You don’t have to wait
until tomorrow or next week to try to make some healthier choices!
*Rather than telling yourself to “be good today” or “eat healthier,” try to be specific. Think of a
couple ways you can realistically take care of yourself in the moment and start there.
*Remember you’re not alone! A lot of people struggle with dietary changes, as well as their
relationship with food. It can be helpful to discuss with a good friend or a Registered Dietitian
as you take this journey to improve your overall well-being.
By Julia Blackford, RDN, LD