The resistance to indulge is one of the most common challenges I've found that my clients face. Creating space for ALL food is one of the most important components of the nutrition process. So much of our wellness is related to our relationship with food, not just body composition metrics. When it comes to fine-tuning our nutrition practices, it’s essential to love what you eat no matter the nature of the meal. This is where art meets science…
Thanks to the toxic world of diets and weightloss, certain foods are demonized because they are thought to be the culprits of weight gain. Rather than categorizing foods as either “good” or “bad,” I like to label them as healthful or indulgent. A donut is indulgent, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. A donut is only “bad” when it replaces something nutritious too often or when it triggers a guilty response. If feelings of guilt emerge, it’s generally because you haven’t given yourself permission to indulge. This may be something worth listening to...or it may be something worth reframing.
Perhaps you don’t believe you’ve earned it because you’ve already had eggs benedict and bottomless mimosas at brunch. Ok so that’s your intuition doing you a solid. But if you’re feeling guilty because you’ve simply mislabeled donuts as the enemy, there’s some untangling to be done there. It may be that you’ve experienced some negative outcome in the past because of donuts. If 1 donut triggers overeating, it may be appropriate to eliminate them for a time to develop the discipline with less challenging foods until you develop the muscle to do the same for donuts. Often, negative labels are tied to past experiences that were damaging in some way, like being reprimanded for sneaking a donut as a child. The way I suggest overcoming the reluctance to indulge is to plan for those freer moments first. I like to live by the 90/10 ratio in my own life and I encourage clients to try for the same. If 90% of the time, we fill our bodies with healthful foods (that we love), then 10% of the time, we’re free to indulge. If you’re eating 5 meals per day, that’s 3-4 opportunities per week to invite those indulgent foods in.
Captain your own ship
A good way to ensure that you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to indulgent moments is to schedule them in. I know, I KNOW. Everything in the wellness world seems to be tied to planning, but seriously, this is how you stay ahead and not fall victim to circumstance. You know as well as I do that events, catered lunches at work and last-minute happy hour invites get the best of us every single week if we let them. If you control the calendar and have things like Sunday brunch with girlfriends to look forward to, it makes those tempting moments so much easier to deny. It also takes the anxiety out of the healthful meals you’ll be having in between. Less anxiety is felt when you know indulgent foods haven’t been taken from you completely. They’re just “sometimes foods” like I call them with my kids. Navigate your week the way YOU want to by planning ahead for the moments you’ll loosen up. Plug those into the planner first, the other 90% will fall into place from there, I promise.
Be better than boring
If you think of the healthful meals in between those indulgent moments as a drag, you’re not eating the right stuff. Plain and simple. If you prepare a boring grilled chicken breast with steamed broccoli every night to float you to your Friday night deep dish, you’re not living. With every meal, you should be creating an experience that’s memorable and energizing. Think about the healthy foods that felt that way for you in the past. Maybe it was an amazing poké bowl you had on vacation or a smoothie you fell in love with after a fun workout. Try to recreate those moments in your everyday life. Why the hell not, I mean honestly?! We shouldn’t wait until vacation or for someone at a bougee boutique studio to blend us something amazing. Flex your creative muscles and start building an arsenal of healthful meals you love and can make for yourself at home any day of the week. If you need some inspo, head to my recipe page!
I hope this inspires you to take out your planner and map out your moments of indulgence. Be in the moment and give yourself permission to enjoy those Valentine's Day chocolates fully and free of guilt.