Are you letting These Behaviors Take Away From Your Joy of Eating

Behaviors That take away from your joy of eating:

In my Previous Blog Post, “Is This Blog for You?” I listed some behaviors that, in my experience, distract us from the joy of eating. Being honest with yourself, understanding these behaviors, and noticing them in your life can also be helpful to know where to focus your efforts and which areas to seek help in.

1. Tell People you don't like food as an excuse to not eat it

Cake was a big one that I did this with. I don’t even know if I actually do like it since I got used to telling people how much I hated it. I didn’t know how else to get out of eating it.

Another way I did this is I would say, “I don’t like eating sweets the day before I go running”. Really it doesn’t actually bother me unless I had an uncomfortable amount.

This confusion about likes and dislikes and using that as an excuse has also happened with exercise. I would tell people when they say “you ran 6 miles!?” or “You are training for a half marathon?!” that I just do it because I love running.

That was definitely not my main reason to run at the time but it kept people from worrying about me. Then it just turned into confusion and mistrust in myself because I was never honest with myself. I never knew my real intention to do something. Now it makes it really hard to motivate myself to do anything.

I am still trying to figure out if I actually love running. Figuring out that is harder now because once I graduated high school it was no longer an obligation. I found out the hard way that these behaviors have long lasting consequences. 

2. Tell yourself you love "healthy" foods and don't like "unhealthy foods"

For me, this showed up mainly with oils and fats. Somewhere I got this notion that fats and oils are bad. I have a hard time eating fatty and greasy foods. There is still a part of this mentality in me that brings too much guilt when I do eat them. Apparently we thought that the food you liked defined you. If you like hamburgers and fries you are a pig. If you like fruits and salad you are “put together”, whatever that means. When going through a fast food line I would say I love smoothies but burgers are not my favorite. I felt like I had to justify my food choices because deep down I knew they weren’t reasonable.

When I gained knowledge about nutrition, that helped this problem a lot. Some oil and fats are good and a burger is not going to hurt you. Also knowing that variety is important was helpful to see that even though smoothies, are “healthy”, eating them all the time can be “unhealthy” because there is no variety. 

3. Every spare moment you are thinking about food, your body image, and how others are perceiving you

Remember this scenario?: You go to a party with some of your friends. There are quite a few people there who you don’t know so you want to make a good first impression. You are excited because these new people won’t have any preconceived notions about you. (You don’t realize though that your own preconceived notions about yourself can be more damaging). 

So your at the party but now all you can think about is if other people think you are fun or if they think you could lose a few pounds too. Someone brings donuts and you tell yourself you are going to only eat 1 or maybe not even finish it. The next thing you know you have eaten 2. Now your thoughts really go crazy: “Why did I eat 2 donuts because now I feel gross”, “Look no one else ate 2 donuts”, “I am so different”, “What is wrong with me?”, “I wish I didn’t do that”, “I wish I could control myself”, “I wish I was normal”. 

Harsh, right?! Welcome to my brain! But I am willing to bet that my brain is not the only one that does this. It can be so overwhelming when this is what our brain goes to on autopilot. Honestly, training your brain out of this is a beast. When you do though, you become free from this constant chatter. Then you can actually live your life. Did you know that is available?!

4. Often you don’t eat with other people or eat what they are eating out of fear of judgment or that they won’t understand

This showed itself majorly in the peak of my eating disorder. I remember a period of about a week or so that I would come home and refuse the delicious homemade meal that my mom made. Instead, I would grab a ziplock bag of pretzels and cheese and take it into my room while everyone else ate dinner upstairs. 

I know this had to do with my belief that less was better when it came to food. It also had to do with me being self conscious about what other people thought about my eating behaviors. 

At this point, I started to recognize that people noticed my eating behaviors. I thought they just didn’t understand. I knew what was best for me and I can take care of myself. Also, I noticed their judgement and it made me feel even more separate from them. 

This also happened at school. I felt extremely self conscious about eating with my friends out of fear that they would judge or comment on my food choices and quantities. I guess I just thought they just didn’t understand that I knew what I was doing.

5. Extreme Restricting

Again, my main belief that ran my life was that less was best. This was especially true when it came to food and weight. When my weight went down and I could eat less and less food, I thought I was on a roll. Now, I can see how harmful that belief was and how much I was in denial.

After a hard cross country practice I would limit the amount of dinner I had so I wouldn’t ruin my workout. On another occasion my dad was going to take us out to a restaurant that I liked at 3. I wanted to save up my allotted food for the day for that so I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch. My mom noticed and gave me a bowl of chili to eat to tide me over but I refused it. 

Other times I would restrict all desserts for weeks or just have a banana for lunch. It got to the point that the amount I was eating was actually all I could actually physically eat anymore. I am not going to go into how dangerous those habits were but gaining the knowledge about nutrition has done amazing things for my life in this area. It has taught me to live in abundance and give myself what it needs.

6. Let Nutrition Labels Make decisions for you

This one is pretty obvious and I believe it is the most prevalent in our society. All of the nutrition classes from kindergarten and up tell you to look at the nutrition labels. That’s great for some people but for most people, it doesn’t decide if they are going to eat something, it decides how guilty they should feel when they do eat it.

It turns nutrition and food into numbers and right and wrongs. I believe this adds way more guilt and pressure than just not knowing. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be conscious about the food we consume, but, we shouldn’t let it affect our feelings. 

We have all had the experience of eating a treat, enjoying it, and then afterwards looking at the nutrition facts. It was then that you realized how many calories it had. Before you were perfectly content but suddenly by looking at the label it became a shameful experience.

I think you should understand your motivations for looking at a label and decide if it is actually be beneficial. Why does it matter how many calories that food had in it because you ate it anyway?

Which one do you need work on?

That was a lot of information. Since I need help in all these areas I would be tempted to feel overwhelmed. I have so much to work on.

I challenge you to pick one area to work on and do something intentionally everyday to recognize this in your life. It doesn’t even have to be something that you do that is an improvement. You can just recognize one of these in your everyday activities. Also, practice noticing without judgment. Just be curious.

Jessica Garner Signature
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