Is being able to eat whatever you want all it’s cracked up to be? In this post, you’ll learn how food freedom is even closer than you think.
You’re starting a shiny, new diet tomorrow, so tonight– you declare that you are going to “eat whatever you want!”
You’re systematic in your approach as you gather all of your favorite “off-limits” foods because surely, after tomorrow, you won’t be eating them again. You have some dinner and dessert (and then some more).
The deadline is approaching quickly and your stomach is FULL.
But, it’s not really the end of all things tasty. You have a hunch you’ll be eating them again (One. Last. Time) but you don’t know what else to do…
Over the years I have uncovered what it really means to eat whatever you want. This concept was first introduced to me by a dietician with whom I was working. She suggested that having unlimited access to ALL types of food would lead me to make balanced food choices.
And that, over time, cupcakes and kale would hold a similar place in my mind. Food would just be food.
Well, it was never quite that cut and dry for me. I believe my turnaround was much slower because I held on to that lingering diet mindset… for years. Its effects still clouded my food decisions and made it harder than ever to actually eat whatever I want.
Eat What You Want, Really?
When you think of eating whatever you want, what comes to mind?
For many, it’s a scene including excessive amounts of “junk” food and/or whatever the latest “best diet” told us was “off limits.” After all, if we want to make something super-appealing, just label it as a behavior that we can’t do or a thing that we are not supposed to have.
Limitations can quickly become a pedestal to perch a forbidden food upon.
If we think about it– we are allowing our restrictions (or diets) to tell us what we desire.
Imagine a child who was not allowed to have a toy that he wanted badly. He could have cared less about the blue truck 5 minutes earlier. But, now that his playmate is making that little truck vroom across the floor– nothing else matters!
It’s reverse psychology.
In a sense, we outsource our “whatever we want” to whichever diet we decided to follow last (and its restrictions).
It is just more proof that labeling foods as “good” and “bad” does us no favors. Because inherently, there is no bad food.
Defining Our “Eat Whatever I Want”
When I tell clients you can eat whatever you want, they panic a bit until I further explain exactly what I mean.
Our true wants, in regard to indulgent food, tend to look a lot different when we excavate them from under a pile of diet rubble.
Our desires are about so much more than the 10 seconds we (halfway) taste that sneaky lick of chocolate icing on our tongue. If we confine ourselves to this limited way of thinking, we are being cheated.
It is important to define what we really want in life.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:21 (NLT)
Let’s veer what feels like a little off topic and discuss the priorities and values that you want MOST to influence your decisions. Take a moment to answer the following questions. Jot down the answers that pop into your mind first and then revisit them again later, prayerfully.
- Your top 3 priorities in life?
- Your top 3 values?
- The top 3 character strengths you want to possess?
Ok, great! So, now that you have a bird’s eye view of what really matters to you, let’s examine how this fits with food.
If your food choices aligned with your:
- Priorities, how would the way you eat look different?
- Values, how would the way you eat look different?
- Character strengths, how would the way you eat look different?
Do you see a contrast between how you eat and what is meaningful to you?
Oh, the priorities that we have overlooked
The values we have ignored.
And, the character flaws that we have possessed all in the name of a forbidden fruit.
How You May Be Deprived Eating Whatever You Want
While no one wants to be deprived of foods that they enjoy, true deprivation comes when we skim past the very things that matter most.
For example, integrity is one of my top 3 values. However, when my food choices lacked integrity, I felt awful. Yes, it is nice to eat tasty things but when those treats interfere with a value that is near and dear to my heart, it stinks.
Well, actually, it hurts…
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.Philippians 3:8 (ESV)
Behavior change becomes easy when we see the desired behavior as enjoyable and rewarding:
“Wow, it feels good to eat in a way that makes me feel proud of my actions!”
And the behavior that we are wanting to nix as painful:
“I want to eat this but I know that afterward, I will regret it deeply, so it’s just not worth it.”
Eat Whatever You Want. Really!
No doubt you are wondering how you apply this mindset shift to your daily life.
Well, it all starts with a pause.
As you probably know, unthoughtful food choices are typically not the greatest. If you have a stress–>eat reflex or a see food–> eat reflex, then what you need is a pause. A pause will allow you to connect with what is truly enjoyable and what is truly painful for you.
At that moment, ask yourself, “What do I really want?” and refer to your musing above.
Now, understand that there is no right or wrong answer here. Some days the cupcake will align with your values… other days it may not. The important thing is that you know why you are making the choices that you are. Then you can mindfully choose your desired outcome.
Remember that diet perfectionism is not necessary. It leads to all-or-nothing eating.
A meal planned thoughtfully that is not a perfect nutritional specimen is far better than an ideal meal eaten and unappreciated followed by reactive overeating.
If you struggle to find your pause, ask God to help you in the moments prior to your most challenging times. If after dinner can feel like a train wreck, maybe hit your knees as soon as you put the kiddos to bed.
Each time you pause, you are breaking the habit and confirming what you esteem most.
What To Do With Your Diet:
I hope that this post has helped you to examine what it really means to eat whatever you want. We have looked at how our interpretation of this idea has been largely influenced by our dieting past and our perception of which foods are “off limits.”
However, as we begin to examine the root of these thoughts, we are better able to unravel what we truly crave in our food choices.
We don’t have to be held captive by arbitrary rules. Nope, we can make decisions that encompass our true wants and needs. It’s pretty fabulous!
Grab this 3-question printable and align your food choice with God’s will!
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.