Beginner's Guide to Food Freedom
Food WHAT!? Freedom? That has to be too good to be true?
I can’t possibly eat whatever I want when I want, that’s breaking Dieting 101!
If I eat whatever I want, all I’m going to eat is ice cream and french fries!
If food has no rules, I don’t even know where to begin…
If hearing the term “food freedom” brings up similar questions for you - you aren’t alone. We have all been there. We get sucked up into the diet culture vortex and find ourselves whirling around the obsessive, rigid and punishing rules we created for ourselves.
You agonize over whether or not you should be reaching for that warm chocolate chip cookie your friend baked. You worry that ordering the french fries with the sandwich will mess you up even though you really want them. But the green salad is “healthier”, so you feel like you have to order it. Guilt and shame seem to make their presence known at every meal. You are confused, frustrated and tired of constant food thoughts.
Food freedom is possible for everyone, no matter how deep into the diet mentality you are. It is 100% possible! It involves keeping an open mind, taking a leap of faith into some uncharted territory and dumping diet culture out the window!
So what exactly is food freedom? It’s your unconditional permission to eat what you want, and consistently honor your hunger cues in order to rebuild trust in your body. Yes, eating that cookie and ordering those french fries don’t equate to a bad choice, despite what you have been told to believe otherwise.
When you allow yourself permission and freedom to eat what you want and what nourishes you, you begin to heal your own personal relationship with food and diet culture. Food loses its morality and power over you. Meaning food becomes, you guessed it, JUST FOOD. Nothing more, nothing less.
Eventually, you’ll get to a place where worrying and obsessing about food and dieting becomes less consuming. Give it time, small steps, mindset shifts and trust in your body, and you will begin to notice the food thoughts diminishing. Imagine the amount of open head space you could have available if diet and food only took up 20% of your thoughts!
I know what you’re thinking, “How can I eat whatever I want? I can’t eat ice cream and pizza for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and say that is healthy”. There is a huge misconception that food freedom is only about eating “unhealthy” foods that are off limits. Instagram is a contributing culprit to this. Many accounts share food freedom and Intuitive Eating posts only showing “off limits” foods such as pizza, doughnuts, hamburgers, french fries, cupcakes and ice cream.
Food freedom comes in when mindfulness is also present. What that means is asking yourself these questions -
“How does this food make me feel?”
“Do I enjoy the taste of this food?”
“What food sounds good?”
“What food do I need in this moment?”
“What are my intentions for eating this meal?”
When you bring in mindfulness and awareness to your body, the thoughts of food freedom being only ice cream and french fries falls to the wayside. Food Freedom looks like eating foods that you enjoy, eating foods that energize you, eating foods that remind you of home and so on. Sometimes that’s tacos and sometimes that’s smoothies.
When you truly know that you can eat any food, whenever you want, food becomes less compelling and less powerful.
That is a concept Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch brought to light in “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works” ( a must read for everyone)! Imagine being on vacation and eating foods that you enjoy, foods that allow you to experience the culture, without anxiety, guilt or fear being present. It is 100% possible for everyone no matter how entrenched in or far from diet culture you may be.
Food Freedom IS possible for you. Food can reach a point for you of being neutral and nonthreatening. But maybe you need support in this journey? Click here to learn more about The Free Method, the exclusive nutrition coaching program to guide you to food freedom!
Written by: Maddie Wittmann
Photo: Justin Rearden