FOOD IS YOUR FRIEND

I read so many health and dieting blogs where the writer seems to have a dysfunctional relationship with food it disturbs me. Food should not be the enemy, actually, it can’t be the enemy. Eating isn’t like smoking or doing drugs. You can treat cigarettes and drugs like the enemy and turn your back on them. You wont die and your life and health is better for it too. But turning your back on food, treating it like the enemy, you can’t live without food. You have to eat food or you will die.

Food on the grill

That is why food must be your friend. Just like in your personal relationships, you have friends who are much closer to you than others. There are friends who nourish you, who stand up for you, who really care about you. These friends are such good friends that will tell you things you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. It’s not always fun, it’s not always enjoyable. But, they want what’s best for you. Just like the healthy foods you should focus on. They nourish you, give you what is best for your body, and it’s not always fun to eat them and we don’t always like them either.

Then there are friends that are SO MUCH FUN! Every time we are with them we somehow wake up in the back seat of our car, our clothes are a mess and we have no idea where we are or how we got there. These friends are always there to help us celebrate, whether it is a birthday or just the fact that it’s the 25th of January. These friends may be a bit self serving, they really don’t have our best interest at heart. But they know how to have a good time, and we always wonder why we don’t hang out more often while we are with them. The next morning, when we wake up with a pounding headache and can’t remember anything after that fourth margarita, we are reminded why we don’t hang out with these people so often.

Chinese food is the friend who is only out for a good time

As with these party friends, there are foods that we know aren’t good for us. There is no nutritional value in a Twinkie, but we love them and we will hang out from time to time because they are fun. They make us feel good, we enjoy their company. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up over the consumption of  an egg roll or a snack cake. If we deny ourselves things we enjoy, we will only binge later. After the binging comes the self abuse and that is not healthy. I believe the self abuse is far more detrimental to your health and well being than the Twinkie ever could be. When you’re telling yourself that you are fat, slovenly, disgusting and worthless those words hurt far worse than if shouted by some stranger on the street. Do you know why? Because we don’t believe the stranger, but we believe the words we say to ourselves. We need to stop treating food as the enemy. We need to stop beating ourselves up over eating. Food has such a huge place in our society. Celebrations, family gatherings, office meetings, dates, holidays all include food. Many foods are associated with family and comfort. The smell of hamburgers on a grill bring up the image of summer barbecues. Vacations and road trips are filled with restaurants and foods we feel a need to eat. We need to stop the cycle of self-hate.

A night with the Jaffa Cakes will only lead to a morning of regret.

When you make the decision to change your eating habits and exercise more, you can’t make any foods your enemy. If you’re eating healthy food and exercising regularly, one Jaffa Cake isn’t going to ruin all your health efforts. A night out with Chinese food isn’t going to cause you to gain 20 pounds. Especially if, the next day, you return to healthy eating and your exercise plan. Denying yourself the occasional enjoyment of the “party friend” foods will lead you down the path toward a night of lustful binge eating  and a morning of more self-hate. Then what? While you keep hating yourself, you make it much harder to love yourself and want to continue the health plan. That’s why so many diets fail. They are designed to fail because they have the black and white notion of “good food” and “bad food.”  There’s so much denial, you can never win.

If you view all food as your friend, you’ll be drawn to the friends who nourish you, who love you just the same way that you love yourself. You can hang out with the “party friends” from time to time without hating yourself after, because you love yourself and chocolate cake is yummy.

— Pattie Lee

return to finding thin

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