Food Freedom: from restriction to food neutralization

Food Freedom: from restriction to food neutralization

I am by no means a dietician or expert on intuitive eating. My experience working towards food freedom comes from some of my reading on the topic as well as my own journey to becoming an intuitive eater.  I have been obsessed with food and weight since high school. Some of those years I just let myself go and ignored it but deep down I was always obsessed. Always thinking about how much I weighed. Comparing my body to others. Hating how clothing fit and basically not truly enjoying my life.  Enter food freedom!

As a nutrition coach who prescribes macros and has used macros before to get to my weight goals I have become fascinated with Intuitive Eating. I have become exhausted with tracking and obsessing over everything I put into my mouth and I am, for lack of a better term, fed up! Do I still prescribe macros? Yes. I use them as a teaching tool for those who currently are not eating enough or for those who have a goal to learn how much they should eat. The end goal however is always learning how to listen to your body and becoming an intuitive eater.

What is intuitive eating? In a nutshell it is a process where you move away from the societal strict views of food rules and dieting to a more non-restrictive and balanced approach to food and weight. You learn to listen to your hunger and satiety cues and quit obsessing over food. To give you an idea of what it is here are the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating ( created by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD, Fiaedp, FADA, FAND.:

  1. Reject the dieting mentality
  2. Honor your hunger
  3. Make peace with food
  4. Challenge the food police
  5. Feel your fullness
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
  7. Honor your feelings without using food
  8. Respect your body
  9. Exercise – feel the difference
  10. Honor your health

As you can see it is a really long and involved introspective process that can take lots of time and effort. If you want to check out their workbook and work through their steps one by one you can find it here.

I am by no means finished with this process and am in the middle of reading The Fuck It Diet by Caroline Dooner (a really practical and hysterical approach for binge eaters and food obsessors) but the area that I have decided to focus on first is neutralizing food and getting rid of unrealistic food rules. What this means is that any food that you think is not good or you have been scared of for years due to rules you have made or rules some diet book told you is no longer considered taboo. The end goal is that any food you wouldn’t allow before is no longer special or glamorous and bingeing on said food is no longer an issue.

Let’s take potato chips for example. If you have avoided potato chips for years because it did not fit into your rules or diet, the first thing you do is to allow that food into your life. Eat a whole damn bag of said chips. Eat two bags. Whatever it takes! See how it feels. Once you allow that food to be around you will actually find that you no longer have such a strong craving for the food. Now that it is not forbidden you are less likely to binge on it because you are no longer restricting it. Alas, the food is neutralized.

I have done this with sweets. I am and have always been a big sweets person. My mom didn’t allow tons of sweets in our house and I always had a healthy lunch packed for school. I remember having my friend smuggle extra gummy sharks in her lunch for me sometimes. See, it was like a drug. Forbidden. So, when I had access to it at a friend’s house or a party I would go crazy and eat tons of it. As a kid I didn’t realize what was happening but now i know. I was setting myself up for a vicious cycle of deprivation and bingeing and then guilt and shame. Over the years it did not change. I had a job at a candy store in undergrad and ate my weight in gummies all of the time. I couldn’t get enough and thought I deserved it. By the end of my college years I was overweight and miserable with myself.

Several diets and food plans later I am now a happy and successful personal trainer and coach and I think my body is in a healthy place but I got here initially by restricting and being very picky about my food. My food couldn’t have certain ingredients, chemicals, or sugar. If it did I just would not eat it. I was a food snob to say the least. I still try to focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods most of the time but no food is “bad” if it satisfies you and your body is asking for it.

How did I make sweets an ok thing again? I threw my food rules about them out the window! I used to only allow sweets on Friday and Saturday nights. I would go nuts and eat a whole bag of said sweets or cookies on those nights and feel totally guilty. Now, if I want a cookie I eat it and move on without guilt. If it’s a fucking Wednesday I do not give a damn. I still eat the cookie. I did this several weeks in a row and realized I was not bingeing on these foods anymore. The weekend would come around and sometimes I wouldn’t have any sweets. It was so freeing. Now it’s not so exciting and I don’t crave cookies all the time because they are available to me if I want them.

It’s a journey that I know takes a lot of work but I promise taking this first step will work wonders for you. When food is not considered bad or evil it takes the excitement away and you will no longer binge or feel the need to eat it all when given the opportunity.

What foods are forbidden for you? Have you had success in neutralizing any foods? Share your comments and messages with me on my instagram. In the meantime enjoy your potato chips!

What is the big deal with bananas?

What is the big deal with bananas?

Hey y’all! Yes I said y’all….I am originally from California but was raised most of my life in Gainesville, Florida so I am pretty much southern. My very southern grandmother would be so proud if she were here to read this! Anyhow, I digress. You are probably wondering what the hell is this banana this crazy woman keeps talking about and why is this blog called Eat the Banana?  What in the world can this woman come up with that is interesting about a damn banana? Before I tell you why I named my blog what I did, let me tell you a little about what brought me to this point of sitting in front of my laptop blogging about bananas.

I was raised by a single mom who taught me I should always pursue my goals and dreams and that I should never let anyone or anything stop me from doing so. She also taught me to do all of the “right” things.  You know, go to school, get good grades, be nice, be successful, work your ass off and go to college, get a job, and be happy.  It is that simple right?  I am in no way knocking the lessons she taught me because without her I do not know where I would be, but she did her best right? She was doing what any woman trying to support a growing kid would do and that is fantastic.

But, in teaching me how to be a strong woman with goals, she forgot one simple detail. My mother was very clear that there were many people who will try to bring me down but she was not clear on the fact that I, my own self, would self doubt and be the biggest obstacle to success if I let my thoughts take control. She was brought up in the 60s and 70s and wanted me and my generation of women to be strong and say fuck it to all of the norms and rules of society, and while this is an important lesson to learn for a young girl, it is not your biggest enemy. Your biggest enemy are the voices in your head telling you that you are not good enough or you cannot accomplish what you want to do in life.

Fast forward to my 20s. I am living alone in Atlanta working at a job I really did not love but it was the job I got out of grad school so it was the right thing to do right? I made very little money but gained good experience and lots of good friends while in Atlanta, but I ended up moving back to Gainesville where I got married to my first husband, because, that was the next step right? That is what we are supposed to do at that age! A year later I was a new mom and my marriage was falling apart. I do not regret this a single bit but it was tough to say the least. Believe me when I say that I started to believe I was not capable of a loving and solid relationship that would last. It was my BIGGEST insecurity!

Fast forward to my 30s, where I am married to my second husband who is seemingly amazing and perfect and a year or so into that I am a mommy again. A few years later this marriage was falling apart. I tried my best to fix it but it just could not work and BOY did I feel like the biggest failure of a lifetime!  Two babies from two different dads made me feel like I was going to be called to be on the Maury Povich show any minute. At this point I was just a stay at home mom and had no job so I of course felt like a total loser in that I had no idea how I would go back to work and support myself and be a mom.

When life give you lemons right? I picked myself up, still with all of the self inflicted judgement that was going on in my head, and I pursued a passion I had always wanted to pursue.  I quickly became a personal trainer and moved my way into a very lucrative and satisfying career at Orangetheory Fitness Gainesville. I could write an entire novel on how much I adore my job but if you follow me on social media you get enough of that on the daily so I will spare you the gory details.

One of the continuing education certifications I earned early on was the Level 1 Nutrition Coach through the Nutrition Coaching Institute. I originally thought I was way too busy with two kids, 17 coaching hours a week, and very much needed me time and time with my fiance, to actually use this new certification but one day a member at OTF approached me and asked if I could help her. Before I knew it I had about 10 clients on my hands!

During this time I had the amazing luck to have a skilled therapist who helped me own my experiences and be proud of them.  She helped me shout it from the rooftops and not care what anyone thinks.  So yes, I have had two husbands and both marriages failed.  Yes, I have two kids from two dads.  And finally, yes I am happily engaged to the love of my life.  WHO GIVES A FUCK!  If you do not like it then you can quietly exit stage left and I am fine with it.

The point is that you are your biggest critic. More than likely you are judging yourself harder than others are and the MOST important person you need to please is yourself. You do not have to follow any path that you do not want to nor do you have to do anything to fit someone else’s opinion of what you should do. All of the other people who may judge you do not have to look at you in the mirror and be happy with what they see. You do. In the end you are truly the only person who needs to be happy with what they see.  Otherwise, everything else goes to shit.

You are probably thinking, get to the point woman! I want to know what the fuck is so great about a banana and is it going to change my life for the better? Well that depends on how you think about the banana. See, the banana is just a metaphor. While I am loving all of the posts people send me while they happily and proudly eat a banana, (insert shameless tag of Chiquita banana for some sort of endorsement here) it is not just about an actual banana folks.

How did the banana come to fruition?  In my pursuit to save the world as a nutrition coach I made a post one day about how people are so scared to eat fruit or carbs or sweets and I assured everyone that they will not die if they eat a banana nor will the become obese and unhealthy (that just happened to be the fruit I was eating at the moment). The original post is pictured below but I stressed that the diet culture has ruined our mindset about food and terrified everyone, specifically women, of a simple little banana. In my post I urged people to just eat the damn banana. From that my business name was born and now I am setting out to save the world, one banana at a time.

I figured another way to get this very important message out was to write a blog about bananas. No I am not going to write about actual bananas each week. I am going to write about nutrition, life, fitness, health, kids, family, love, and how to maintain sanity with all the crazy that life brings us. Most importantly I want to empower women not to be afraid of a little banana (insert whatever word you want here) and inspire them to be true to who they are.  In other words, if you follow this blog you will probably laugh, cry, learn a thing or two about nutrition and fitness, but most importantly you will learn to grab life by the damn BANANAS and go get what you want!