Healthy eating. How do we actually define it?
Sure, eating your greens and limiting sugar and saturated fats sounds pretty healthy to you or I. But what happens when this becomes mentally unhealthy? What if eating healthy isn’t about what you have on your plate, but about what you have in your head?
I would never claim to have suffered from an eating disorder
I have seen people go through them, and suffer with them, and they are terrible things. What I had was a disordered style of eating. I took healthy out of its box and, as such, my relationship with food was an unhealthy one – even though I was eating all the vegetables and none of the stereotypical ‘bad stuff.’
I would only eat low GI carbs. I would feel my heart thudding in my chest whenever I had to eat at a restaurant – a situation I always tried to avoid – as my eyes scanned the menu and my brain told me ‘not that… not that either… oh god, imagine all the oil that was cooked in.’
Healthy eating became unhealthy
You can have all the salad and all the sweet potato in the world, but when you’re lying on your bed crying that you hate your body, something has to give.
I escaped the cycle, but I still didn’t eat enough. I didn’t track my calories or macros, I ate intuitively, enough to stay fit and healthy, and build some nice muscle, but not enough to really get the figure I wanted.
In December, I started with a personal trainer because I wanted to change. I was ready. I wanted to go on a proper bulk t build some muscle, and for the first time, I started tracking my macros.
I still did it the stereotypically healthy way. I didn’t eat cake to cap my macros, I ate meat, rice, potatoes, pasta. And then, one day, I wanted some biscuits. So I did a bit of food maths and got them into my macros. And then, one day I wanted some chocolate, so I managed to fit that in, too.
You see, IIFYM has changed my outlook on food. It has made me realise that if it fits, it won’t actually make you fat – even if it doesn’t fit, it won’t do much harm.
But to me, the knowledge that a calorie is a calorie has really opened my eyes to the restriction I had placed myself under in the past, and the real stupidity of it.
I’m not a numbers girl
If you struggle with numbers, i.e, you easily get consumed with them, I wouldn’t suggest tracking macros. It can be a mental challenge for some if they go over by a few grams, and I don’t think IIFYM is the solution to everyone’s eating problems.
But, for me, although I have been in a much better place with food for the past year or so. Sure, there was a year or two in between my unhealthy eating stage and when I began an IIFYM approach, but I still wasn’t 100% happy with my mentality towards food. Intuitive eating is all well and good, but I really needed something which made me see food as something to help feed my goals, not the enemy which would keep me further away from them.
IIFYM has made me realise that there are no foods to fear, no foods that you have to exclude, and that a healthy mind is much more idealistic than a healthy looking plate.
Your life doesn’t have to revolve around sweet potato and chicken to be healthy. Mine includes sweet potato and chicken, but it also includes meals out, untracked alcohol, unplanned biscuits and chocolate. It includes life.