When I’m at a dinner party and someone first finds out that I’m a holistic health coach, they often start giving me excuses for the food they are eating.
I try very hard to communicate that I take a REAL and BALANCED approach to eating. That ultimately most of the work I do has little to do with food, because when someone is handling their stress well, enjoying life, keeping their body moving, and tending to their emotional wellness– they are feeling so fantastic that eating healthy foods becomes effortless.
One of the pitfalls of dieting is that we become obsessed with right and wrong foods. I find thinking of our food in that way destructive to a healthy relationship with what we eat.
Here is a way to think about food choices that gives a lot of flexibility and grace.
It’s three pronged: Conceal, Ideal and Real.
Think of all the possible foods you could choose as being on a long spectrum….running from total junk foods to super clean, uber-healthy foods.
When we eat the real junk, we often will try to “conceal” it from people. It’s normally the stuff we eat alone, in our car or behind closed doors.
Then there is the “ideal” foods…the super nutritious, fresh, healthy, vibrant, local organic foods that make us feel fantastic, but are often not always available for every meal.
And most often somewhere in the middle is the “real” foods that we eat on a daily basis.
Perhaps it is the fresh conventional produce (real) that could also be local and organic (ideal) but at least isn’t packaged and synthetic (conceal).
Or it is the packaged crackers that have just a few basic ingredients (real)– sure you could have made crackers in your own kitchen from sprouted flour (ideal) but you also could have chosen preservative, trans fat and salt laced crackers too (junk).
Or maybe it’s the homemade icecream with crumbled brownie on top (real)– sure you could have picked berries with yogurt (ideal) but you are eating a real food dessert and not one laced with toxic byproducts either (conceal).
The thing is, we have to give ourselves permission to choose the best option that is available and DOABLE for our lives right now. We all don’t live on an organic farm, nor do we always have the funds to choose or time to prepare only the highest possible quality of foods.
We live in the REAL and now. Learning to make healthy choices with what we have available is essential for our health and our mental well being.
One of my favorite quotes from the founder of my health coaching school, Joshua Rosenthal was, “I don’t care if your clients have to smother their green vegetables in chocolate sauce…celebrate that they ate the greens!”
Celebrate the real choices…bring in as much ideal as possible, but keep healthy living in perspective. You’ll be in it for the long haul if you do.
Pssst: Have you heard about the FREE online Stress Cure for Busy Moms course I’m offering begining July 17? Get more details here!
I think this post will help a lot of people recover from their food guilt. I know I feel better! And you’re right, we have to be realistic if we’re going to be in it for the long haul.
Thanks Sandy–I hope so!
Ahh.. How refreshing to read this post today. thank you. I have always been more or less a real food kinda eater, but lately have tried to do more of the ideal stuff, soaking grains, organic produce etc. But boy is it a struggle to try to do a lot of it at once. So I’m learning to pick my battles and choose little things that I can do. I just don’t have time to make spouted bread at home, but the store bought natural stuff will have to do. I don’t always eat the yogurt and the berries for dessert, because – well- icecream, even the store bought kind made from “regular” ingredients is so very tasty. Thak you for reminding me to let up on my ideals of perfection!! Great post.
Thanks so much for writing this! It’s a great reminder that we can go overboard and forget to enjoy the good food we are eating.
Lisa, thank you so much for this post. Just today, my son and I were having a talk about making healthy choices and planting seeds for lifelong health. I had him read this post to help him understand why we make the choices we make. It’s not about perfection, like everything else in life, it’s about being real. He understands a little more, probably still doesn’t like it, but he understands where we’re coming from. Thank you so much!
Kelly: It really does defeats the purpose if all our worry over eating well takes the enjoyment out of the process!
Christine: Wow! I’m so glad this helped a little in the learning process with your son — and I think it is AWESOME that you are including him in connecting the dots between taking care of our health and the food we eat– it’s these healthy living skills that will serve him for a lifetime!
I love this paradigm, Lisa! I am supposed to be fasting from the Internet, but I’m keeping it real right now because frankly, I just can’t live without it! 🙂 Some stuff is really useful, like this post! Thank you thank you! I love your “keeping it real” approach, and it resonates so well with me because I try and try and try to live up to the ideal until I crash and burn and get mad at myself and then resign to keeping it real. I’d really like to keep it real most of the time and enjoy the process more. My husband helps me do that. 🙂