SALT LAKE CITY — There’s power in owning what you eat.
There are two types of eaters in this regard: those who own what they eat and those who have great intentions yet continually fall short and as a result, live in a state of denial about what they do and do not eat. Let me help you understand what I mean.
A person who doesn’t own what they eat often makes large, sweeping claims such as, “Oh I don’t eat sugar” or, “I never eat sweets.” If you pay attention, many times this very same person who makes these claims is the one in the corner at the holiday party secretly going to town on the fudge or bingeing on their kids’ Halloween candy after trick-or-treating.
It’s understandable to be a bit insecure about these behaviors because often the intentions behind these claims are good. But moments of weakness and shame set in and it’s easy to start wondering why you even bother trying when you seem to continually fail.
In contrast, a person who owns their eating choices isn’t trying to hide what they eat and is often flexible and nuanced about their eating and nutrition. I’ve observed that people on this side usually put the food they want to eat on a plate, sit down to eat it, enjoy every bite and then they’re done and move on with their day.
Now, I don’t want to encourage you to judge the people around you, assuming that everyone who makes stark declarations about their eating choices are automatically struggling in a restrict/binge pattern. I’m hoping that as you’re reading this, you might be able to see a little bit of yourself reflected in these examples and learn how you might be able to approach food in a healthier way.
I’ll admit it — I used to be that person at a dinner party who would say (in my head) that I don’t eat dessert. So, I’d eat dinner, help clean up the dishes and then look at the brownies everyone had gotten into and then when no one was looking, I’d make the slightest little cut on the edge because it wasn’t quite straight.
After I made that cut and ate the tiniest sliver of brownie, I’d realize it still wasn’t as straight as I wanted it to be so I’d cut off the smallest little row of the brownies until it looked a little better. And on and on — you get the idea. In my head, I knew I was doing this as an excuse to eat the brownies because I really wanted to eat them — but I was too afraid to own it.
Now, I own it. And I eat far smaller portions of brownies when they’re around as a result. Yes, I’m a registered dietitian and I care deeply about nutritious, wholesome foods and eating. But I also wholeheartedly believe that there’s a time and a place for a treat. When I do indulge, I own it because I know that leads to more enjoyment of the food, the people around me and life in general (and often leads to eating far less of the food as a result, too).
So, the next time you’re in a situation where you want to eat something a little more indulgent, ask yourself if you’re willing to own it. Prove it to yourself by cutting yourself a slice (or grabbing a handful out of the bag), putting it on a plate, sitting down and enjoying that little slice of heaven mindfully. Your body and soul with thank you!