Have you ever had a really greasy lunch? I’m talking fries dripping in melted cheese, with a side of nachos, and a small side of mozzarella sticks. Maybe this is your favorite friday night treat. Maybe it’s something you only get while eating out. You say to yourself “Calories don’t count on the weekend” or maybe “I will ABSOLUTELY have a salad for dinner”. Like one of these things negates the other.
You’re in a mindset that calories make a difference in your day. What you consume dictates if you’ve had a “good” or “bad” day. We’ve all seen the memes on social media that have this same mentality. Vacation calories don’t count. These fun images and phrases encourage you to let loose, to not worry about what you’re eating on the weekend, vacation, or during quarantine. You want to have a good time and if you care about your calories you can’t have fun.
I’m not disagreeing with them! I’ve always said, there is #nolunchshame (also #nodinnershame) here. I don’t care what you eat, when you eat it, or really how much of it you eat. Personally, I just popped open a bag of pickled jalapeno chips that I am loving.
What I do care about is your mental health. The mentality you have towards food, and towards yourself. I’ve found that now, more than ever, we’re making a deal with the devil when it comes to our diet. Let me eat whatever I want during quarantine, and I promise I’ll eat salads every day for the month of June. I’ll lose this “COVID-15”. Sound familiar?
It is for me. I do it all the time. If I eat a frozen pizza for dinner one night, I make an extra effort to whip up a strawberry salad for dinner the next night. But the more I learn about giving yourself grace and space the more I realize that what I’m doing is contributing to a toxic cycle of shame. Shaming yourself for your food decisions is not helpful. It’s also not helpful to plan a rebound from your toxic relationship with food.
What we’re focusing on is the scale. What we’re focusing on is our appearance. We are not focusing on what makes our bodies feel good. If we started focusing on what types of food make us feel energized we would be able to move past this toxic cycle.
My suggestion, to move past this, is get curious about your relationship with food. Especially during this time when many of us are cooking more for ourselves and our loved ones.
Ask yourself, when you see a meme like this one, do you laugh and find that you envision yourself here? I do. I’ve been double tapping “funny” memes that make me seem like I’m a sloth and an uncontrollable eater.
I know this is a joke. Or, at least something masquerading as a joke. When you break it down, it’s actually pretty harsh. You’re comparing yourself to an individual who has a food addiction, and is possibly immobile because of that addiction. We know that’s not really who we are. But we feel bad about how we’re treating our bodies so we use humor to deflect our embarrassment. It’s not just the memes on social media. It’s in our everyday conversations as well. We’re conditioned (especially as women) to be self-deprecating.
So, when you tell yourself these things it’s easy to see why you may reach for your favorite – delicious – dinner that you consider a cheat meal. You’re already down the path of accepting the COVID-15, might as well lean into it.
Or, worse yet, we decide that once this is all over we’re going to detox. We’re going on a juice cleanse. We’re going to eat nothing but kale and green smoothies. We want to convince ourselves that our bad eating habits are just for quarantine, they’re temporary, and we’ll rebound and be better than ever.
But that never happens.
Or you do lemon and apple cider vinegar “cleanse” and end up feeling worse.
Or you just don’t eat.
So, how do we ditch the detox? It wasn’t serving us before quarantine and it’s certainly not serving us now.
Once you’ve started to recognize the things you tell yourself about your diet you can start to ask some deeper questions like:
- Why do you gravitate towards certain foods?
- What do you look for when you’re stressed?
- Am I giving certain meals a label?
- Am I already compensating for this meal by planning the next one?
Once you’ve sparked that curiosity in yourself, you’ll be on the same food journey I am. It’s an imperfect journey. I make a lot of mistakes. You’ll probably make some too. I still shame myself for gaining weight or eating “unhealthy” for a long period of time. I constantly look up “detox” recipes to get myself back on board.
But, it’s searching through these ridiculous cleanses that I catch myself. That’s the moment I realize I’m participating in a cycle that is not good for my mental health. That’s the moment I come back to Sweet Pea Living and remember that I don’t need to detox, and I don’t need to plan a cheat meal. I just need wholesome recipes that are delicious, bring me joy when I cook them, and nourish my body.
I’m just like you. My life can be hectic and cooking, cleaning and getting that workout in are sometimes the last thing on my mind. But, I’m here to share my tips and tricks on how to make adulting a little more enjoyable.