Written by Jenn Hand, Holistic Nutritionist, Board Certified Health Coach, NBC-HWC
A healthy, nutritious salad chock full of vegetable goodness and grilled chicken vs. a decadent, just out of the oven, warm brownie with ice cream on top….
Which would you pick?
And the more important question…
How in Sam Hill do you make healthy food choices when you’re faced with such warm, gooey, delicious temptations?!
I’ve had women ask me how I make my own healthy choices throughout the day. Because when you’re first starting out on this journey, it’s daunting to continuously choose the hummus and carrots when there’s leftover cake sitting on the counter.
So here’s the thing…
95% of the time, I’d probably pick the salad.
Not from a place of “well, the salad is healthier, has more nutrition, and would help me lose weight”.
And not from a place of “holy shit, I’m white-knuckling and forcing myself to not WANT the brownie”.
I’m not having a mind battle back in forth in my head about “I want the brownie, but I shouldn’t have the brownie, but I want the freakin’ brownie, but maybe I’ll have just a bite or two…”
It’s from a place inside where I simply don’t WANT the brownie.
It’s a showdown:
And if you’re struggling with your food choices and wrestling to eat in a way that is healthy, then I know you’re gasping in disbelief right now.
How can I not WANT the brownie?
So, let me dig a little deeper and explain the why’s and how’s of my daily food choices.
I choose from a FEELING place. Eating the salad makes me feel good, inside and out. Eating the brownie doesn’t make me feel good.
That’s not to say I never choose the brownie.
Sometimes I do. But not in a frenetic, shovel-it-into-my-mouth and not even taste it kind of choice. It’s from a “mmmm I haven’t had a dessert in a while, and a few bites of this brownie sound delicious.”
Usually, it’s after a meal and after I’ve already had some protein to satisfy my body.
It’s all about satisfaction and feeling good.
I teach my clients how to “eat to satisfy”. This isn’t a mind-driven, food-rules, rigid place in our brains. It’s from a deeper, body-centric place.
And when we work on this, inevitably, the question comes up…
“Ok, but what about if my mind says to eat the salad and my body says to eat the brownie?! Then how do I choose?!”
You choose based on what FEELS good.
Not “feels good” as in you need to dump sugar in your system to binge and numb out from the drama that you just left behind from work. And not “feels good” as in you’ve been on a diet for 8 days and you’d kill to have some chocolate.
It’s the “FEEL GOOD” place from inside you that knows that most of the time, healthier choices make you FEEL better.
Notice I said “most of the time”. Sometimes, you just want to indulge in the brownie just because! And that’s okay. It’s not about perfection. It’s about making good choices most of the time.
Learning how to listen and find this “feel good” place IS a practice. If you haven’t listened to your body in 10 years, you can’t expect to just tune in and know how to do it in ten minutes.
Eating to satisfy means you want to FEEL good. Both in your mind and your body.
So, how DO you make healthy food choices?
Here are 3 tips:
1. Keep yourself balanced.
If you’re ravenous and haven’t eaten in 6 hours, of course your body will want the brownie. Your blood sugar is low, and your body is craving a quick burst of energy for some fuel (hello, sugar cravings). If you keep yourself balanced throughout the day, you’ll have a better chance of not having that “brownie battle” in your head for 20 minutes.
2. Don’t make any food off limits.
If you tell a toddler he can’t have the red crayon, what does he want? He’s screaming his head off about how much he needs and wants the red crayon. But if you give it to him, 5 minutes later, he’s bored of the red crayon and wants to go outside to play. Yes, your food cravings are just tiny toddlers throwing a temper tantrum.
When you say you can’t have dessert during the week, what do you immediately think about ALL DAY? The dessert that you can’t have. Give yourself permission and watch the internal battle of wanting the brownie disappear.
If you truly can’t decide whether you want the salad or the brownie, maybe you have a little bit of both and see how each feels in your body. Or perhaps you have the brownie and then you discover you were hungry an hour later. Or you eat the salad and still want something sweet after but have a small piece of chocolate.
It’s all about what works for YOU and feels good for your body.
Stay curious about what you’re doing around food and the impact of your decisions. There are always lessons to be learned and feedback to take with you.
One of the biggest fears in this whole “food mess” is the fear that if you allow yourself the brownie, if you truly let yourself eat sweets and don’t control/regulate your eating, you’ll spiral out of control and gain 100 pounds in a week.
I promise you that won’t happen.
Your body won’t be satisfied if you’re eating sugar-laden treats for every single meal. Maybe at first you’ll crave a lot of sweets because they’ve been forbidden for so long, but after a few days, your body will crave vegetables, lean proteins, and fresh fruits. I’ve been there, so trust me on this.
So, tell me…which step can you work on this week to help you in your food choices? Comment below! 🙂
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About the Author:
Jenn Hand has been helping women like you become normal eaters since 2015.
She’s worked with thousands of women, helping them to balance their bodies, end bingeing, stop obsessing over food, and start feeling amazing again. As a board-certified health coach and holistic nutritionist, Jenn knows how to support you in making real positive changes that last.
Her articles have been published on Mind Body Green, Tiny Buddha, Thrive Global and other local and global media platforms. She’s the author of How to Be a Normal Eater and the creator of The Normal Eater’s Club program. Listen to Jenn’s advice and tips on the Cake Doesn’t Count Podcast, or read more of her articles for free on the Food Freedom Blog.Learn more about coaching with Jenn >>