Is there a food that you have labelled good or bad? A food that is off limits when you are trying to be good, and watch what you eat? A food that you know if you have one mouthful, you will have no control thereafter.
For me, that food would have to be chocolate cake. I have so many happy memories eating chocolate cake. My fondest memories are baking chocolate cake with my grandmother on a Friday afternoon – licking the bowl clean of all the yummy raw batter once we had put the cake into the oven to bake. And then there was the icing, that sweet chocolate sensation – so buttery and creamy. But most of all, it was the love, connection, and happiness I felt spending time with this special person in my life, that I unconsciously connected to chocolate cake. As time went on, and life became more complicated, I would often find myself reaching for that piece of cake to numb out, disembody and find that relief when the going got tough. In the beginning that worked, until I noticed I was reaching out for more and more cake, and the answers never lay in the cake. My solution was to restrict the cake, to label it as a bad food. Unfortunately, when those overwhelming and intense emotions came up, I did not have the coping strategies to self soothe and when I was having a “bad “ day, I would eat that “bad” food.
And that would lead me down the rabbit hole of negative self-talk, self-judgment, and guilt. The more I could criticize myself, berate myself and pull myself down, I believed the more discipline I would have and the less I would reach out for the “bad” chocolate cake.
No single food in moderation is going to make you unhealthy or gain fat
It’s taken many years, lots of chocolate cake to understand that “good” food and “bad” foods don’t exist… No single food in moderation is going to make you unhealthy or gain fat. There are those foods that are more satiating, and nutrient dense and we can label as more optimal, and then there are those foods that are less optimal which means that they are energy dense and less nutritious. By giving food a label of “good” or “bad” is giving power to food, and you are attaching your self-worth to food when you then label yourself as “good” or “bad”, disciplined, or undisciplined, successful, or unsuccessful when you eat the food you have deemed “good” or “bad”.
A vital part of healing your relationship with food and body is to allow yourself to eat that food in a relaxed, calm state. Choosing to experiment with eating that “chocolate cake” when you feel grounded, calm, and present will give you an interesting learning experience. What you will notice is that once the fear and anxiety dissipate, you will notice that you don’t feel satisfied or full. That you haven’t recreated that same feel good feeling you originally associated with that forbidden food. And what you are looking for in that food, is not there. The food loses its appeal. The food doesn’t give you physically or emotionally what you are seeking. The magic of that food is lost, but the joy of the memory may remain.
Call a truce on food
It’s time to call a truce on food. Stop the war. Give yourself permission to eat the foods you crave and learn to deal effectively with the difficult emotions. Furthermore, when you eat what you really want, in an environment that is calm and relaxed, and you not distracted then the pleasure you derive will enable you to feel satisfied and nourished. And importantly, you will eat enough.