Why Healthy Eating Isn’t Realistic

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Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

Hey guys, welcome back to the blog. In today’s post, I want to talk about something that isn’t usually addressed in the “healthy eating” world on social media. If you’ve been on social media at all in the recent years, you’d have seen how healthy eating trends have taken over millions of people, having them smash avocados on toast and bake their oats. While there’s nothing wrong with the trends promoted by fitness and health influencers, I can’t help but point out how their food content is often catered to the few. Which is to be expected as influencers can only show us their way of life.

However, this has created a discourse around what healthy eating is that doesn’t cater to everyone. It gives the impression that there is only way of eating well, a rather Western way. The healthy eating world on social media does not address how different cuisines come into play. For example, the foods in my culture never fit into the category of “healthy eating” because they are mostly carb-heavy and do not look like the foods posted by health influencers. So, where does someone who eats African, Indian or Chinese cuisine fit into the niche of healthy eating. Often times, when I’m at family gatherings, not one thing on the table fits what social media deems healthy. I realised that exposure to “what I eat in a day” content has somewhat influenced my perception on what is healthy food in a way that excludes all of our local dishes.

But, that isn’t how healthy eating is supposed to be. Healthy eating does not mean a Western way of eating with; a yoghurt bowl for breakfast, a kale salad for lunch, and salmon and asparagus for dinner. It can mean rice porridge for breakfast with, veggie noodle soup for lunch, and the same thing for dinner. One thing I found odd is that social media promotes cooking one thing for lunch and cooking another meal for dinner when I grew up eating the same meal for lunch and dinner. Similarly, the “healthy eating” category promoted on social media doesn’t allow for the different ingredients available in different areas of the world. Where I’m from, spicy pickled fruits are often added to our meals, and people use different ingredients such as cassava, breadfruit, a variety of grains, and a ton of chilli.

To put it in a nutshell, don’t let the portrayal of “healthy eating” online restrict your way of eating or your local cuisine. Instead, you can find ways to make your local dishes balanced with whole foods and substitutions. For example, by substituting regular sunflower oil in any local recipes with olive or avocado oil. The point is that there isn’t only one way of eating healthy and you shouldn’t have to abandon foods from your culture to be healthy. So next time you think about eating healthy, step away from the exhausted dishes online and make it your own.

A note from the author

I hope you enjoyed today’s quick post and found something useful from it. If you’d like to support my blog please like and follow for more and feel free to share your opinion on it. Thank you for reading, I appreciate each an every one of you, see you next time, xoxo.

Food Guilt: 5 Ways to Cope with feeling guilty after “Overeating”

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Hey guys, welcome back to the blog, today we’re talking about food guilt. You’re probably familiar with the term and with the experience of the feeling as well. I would define it as feelings of shame and regret after consuming foods we deem unhealthy or after eating what we think is too much. This is something I’ve experienced far more times than I can count and it has to be one of the worst feelings I’ve experienced. The thing is, the food doesn’t even have to be unhealthy to trigger the guilt, sometimes you can be eating healthy and nutritious meals and still feel guilty if you feel like you overate. However, food guilt is something created by our own minds, it is as real as we make it. Often times I’ve found myself struggling with regret after a full day of eating simply because I thought I had too many calories or wasn’t healthy enough. It takes a while to snap myself out of that dark hole of shame and criticism sometimes, which is why I wanted to share some tips that may help you deal with food guilt. Before we get into it, this is a disclaimer that all of these tips are based off of personal experience and are not a replacement for professional medical advice. If you are struggling with mental health or what you think may be an eating disorder, please seek help or further advice, thank you.

#1. Know Your Triggers

If you feel guilty after eating, it may be helpful to know what foods or eating habits trigger that guilt. For some people it may be eating junk food, processed foods filled with sugar, or foods they just think is unhealthy. It might be binge eating, or eating late at night for you. No matter what it is, it’s important to know what does it for you so you can analyse why you feel guilty.

My food guilt is triggered when I eat foods I do not eat on a normal basis, especially if I’ve done so over the course of a few days. This comes from a fear of overeating, which comes from a fear of weight gain. Even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with gaining weight, we’ve grown up with the idea that weight gain is something negative. It’s only now that this mindset is starting to shift but it is still easier said than done. So triggers are often foods or habits that society has perceived as negative and any guilt resulting from that is also naturalised. But guilt after eating isn’t something that is supposed to be natural. Identifying what triggers your food guilt is the first step to deconstructing the reasoning behind the guilt.

#2. Write & Reflect

One method that always helps is to journal your food guilt, writing down what you did that day and your emotions throughout. Often times you’ll find that writing it down helps you feel more accountable of what or how much you ate, helping you realise it isn’t as bad as your mind is saying it is. However, this isn’t the same as calorie or macro tracking, you would only write down the emotions in that moment, not track every day. Writing down what you regret and then throwing that paper away can help you acknowledge the food guilt and be more mindful so that you can put it past you.

#3. Validate Hunger Cues & Cravings

One of the biggest struggles when it comes to food guilt is knowing when you are hungry. Often times we reprimand ourselves for hunger, but hunger does not always mean boredom, stress, or needing water. A lot of the times you’re hungry because your body needs nourishment and it’s important to acknowledge these cues as well.

We’ve cultivated this idea that cravings are wrong, but rather than suppressing your cravings every time, it might help to give your body what it wants. This doesn’t mean mindlessly eating foods which may not be the most nutritive. Instead, it means having the occasional bowl of ice cream or pizza. If you incorporate balance into your life and listen to your cravings every once in a while, you’ll find it much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

#4. Move Your Body

Moving your body after overeating or when you’re feeling guilty doesn’t mean running on the treadmill for 3 hours as punishment. Often times we feel down or lethargic because we haven’t moved our body that day and that can lead to feelings of guilt. Moving your body can mean anything from 5 minutes of stretching or dancing to a daily walk. If you suffer from food guilt, move your body not to burn calories but to feel in control of your body in that moment.

#5. Do not Punish Yourself

My last and final tip is to never punish yourself for bingeing or overeating. If you feel like you overate, then you can feel content that you enjoyed your food or simply move on from it. If you overate at a family dinner, realize that a big part of these experiences with family are tied to the food you had. If you binge ate everything and everything at 2 am and you don’t even remember what or why, then realize that your body needs fuel and you can always put that to good use layer on.

I hope you found something useful here today. Although I’m not an expert, I’ve had my fair share of food guilt and know that it shouldn’t be naturalized even though it is. Food guilt can be a habit passed down from one person to the other, but it should never limit how you live your life. At the end of the day, when you look back on your life, you won’t even remember the guilt. So ‘if it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t stress about it for more than 5 minutes’ – Dekker. Thank you for reading, xoxo.