building anxieties about food: having the wrong focus

I’ve been wanting to change my eating habits for a long while now. It’s been a really hard road. I feel like it shouldn’t be, but it is. (I mean, even right now as I type this, there’s a Red Robin commercial playing showing all of their burgers AND I WANT TO EAT THEM ALL.)

But I know I can’t continue to just eat the way I have been: not balanced, a lot of snacks, too much take-out and delivery. I’m a midwestern American through and through in regards to my stomach. Give me fried, gravy covered, meat & potatoes, all swimming in cheese, with a side of more cheese and chips with french onion dip. Milk with every single meal. If I could get away with it, I’d continue to eat like that now. I love it.

We’ve talked about some of this before, while I love all my comfort and connivence foods, I need to change my diet because my health is suffering, partially for it. If I don’t change my habits, I’m going to continue gaining weight, continue being bloated, continue being in physical as well as emotional pain. I can’t do it any more. I have to make this change.

But I’ve been thinking so much of “can’t have that” or “less of this”… reduce, reduce, remove. I’ve been weighing myself down with so many restrictions. (And as I’ve said before, I hate this. So much.) I’d been planning on a super basic cleanse. Eliminating a lot from my diet for two weeks and seeing how I feel. Simple, but the thought of removing all these “comforts” was stressing me out. And then I got an email, perfectly timed, from Nicole.*

You know what sucks? Feeling deprived. You know what else sucks? Keeping a mental tally of all the foods you “can’t eat” because they’re “bad.” Ugh, that’s the worst, isn’t it? So, instead, one of the things I’ve been doing lately is to pick one food per week and just focus on eating more of it. Think: dietary additions instead of subtractions. This week it’s spinach, which means I’m adding an extra handful of it to my green smoothies, sautéing it with garlic and olive oil for dinner, throwing some on my vegan pizza at lunch, etc. It’s so much easier (and more fun!) to focus on adding more of the foods you want to eat instead of constantly stressing about the foods you want to avoid. Also, I find it much easier to eventually phase foods out when I’m already filling my meal plan with delicious and nutritionally satisfying things.

I knew I wanted to eat more healthy foods. But I had mainly been thinking about it in terms of what I couldn’t eat any more. No more dairy. Little-to-no gluten. Little-to-no processed foods. No more carbonated beverages. Little-to-no alcohol. No more soy.** Little-to-no red meat. Little-to-no eggs. Little-to-no refined sugars. No more non-organic, free range meats. I mean, at that point I begin wondering what I can eat. (We’ve heard this song and dance from me before.)

But Nicole’s email was a great smack in the head of “STOP BUILDING ANXIETIES ABOUT FOOD, DUMMY!” I want to eat more healthy foods, so what I need to do is add those in. Switching the focus onto good additions rather than stressing out over what I can’t have. Eventually this stuff will start to balance out, or at least that’s my hope.

So today, while I’m still hoping to remove some things just for 2 weeks, I’m looking at it more as “how can I challenge myself to eat more veggies this week?” Starting off by walking my butt down to Whole Foods and making myself a kick-ass loaded-up salad for lunch. Hold the cheese.

*This was from her newsletter, not something she specifically has written just for me. (Though when I have reached out to her for help, she’s been freaking fantastic.)
**I can still do soy sauce, fermented soy is apparently ok — although I don’t know about tofu, so I’m just going to play it safe and say no. But soy sauce still in moderation, and low sodium.