Yeah…Immaeatthat

Nov 15

Why I’ve always hated the word ‘balance’.

There has always been a part of me that cringes every time I hear someone say, “healthy eating is all about balance.” 

It’s 100% my issues coming up, but I hate the word “balance” because I remember what came up in me when I was in my eating disorder and I heard someone say, “healthy eating is all about balance”.

satisfying food = smashburger burger + sweet potato fries | immaEATthat.com

I wish someone once during any of my nutrition training would’ve been like, “healthy eating is about listening to your body.  If you listen to you body, balanced eating is what happens.  Make your goal listening to your body.”

When you’re in your eating disorder/disordered eating habits, the eating disorder removes what the physical body is telling you and you become overly influenced by what is happening around you.  These external happenings can be cleanses you find on pinterest, some restrictive eating pattern Dr. Oz irresponsibly mentions, or meal photos a “healthy living” blogger who is deep in their eating disorder posts on IG.  For me, I was heavily influenced by the dieting professors I had in undergrad.  As a nutrition student, in class I was surrounded by nutrition information and professors who were open about trying to lose weight via dieting.

Tarte in Boston. Epic salad + citrus-y dressing + chewy bread + a latte | immaEATthat.com

To get out of your eating disorder/disordered eating, you have to turn down the volume on the external influences that are manipulating you and turn up the volume on your internal influences.  These internal influences are you tuning in to your internal cues.  For example, these internal cues are understanding 1) what foods satisfy you, 2) your hunger/fullness cues, and 3) your core values that are greater than the food you eat/your body size.

You have to realize that you are NOT a sponge and you do not have to absorb all the external influences you come across (ex. the diets/cleanses/advice from ill-informed people).  You are allowed to realize, “holy crap.  That’s like really freaking bad advice for me” and then leave that advice right where you found it.  While I know I’m not a sponge, I still have to take a deep breath to calm myself down every time I hear someone say, “healthy eating is all about balance.” 

To me (when I was in my ED and quite honestly now…), saying healthy eating is all about balance is like saying your eating MUST look balanced.  And anything I MUST do with food sounds like a diet to me.  And anything that sounds like a diet sounds like restriction.  And anything with restriction makes my warning flags go up and signals me to run away (or skip away since running doesn’t feel great in my body).

I wish someone would have said, “if you listen to your body…balance is what happens naturally.  Above everything you learn about nutrition, you must remember to listen to your body’s cravings and hunger/fullness cues.  When nutrition facts start coming before food enjoyment, you’ve got a problem”.  WHY DID NO ONE FREAKING SAY THAT TO ME IN MY 5 YEARS I WORKED TOWARDS BECOMING AN RD? (i’m clearly getting out some suppressed anger right now. thanks for listening.) 

when nutrition facts start coming before food enjoyment, you've got a problem | immaEATthat.com

I write immaEATthat because it is the blog that would’ve helped me get out of my eating disorder.  I sometimes wonder if sharing my day of eats/meal ideas on the blog or IG is helpful.  I continue to post my food because it would’ve helped me when I was in my ED to see someone modeling normal eating behaviors with food.  My goal isn’t to show balance.  My goal is to hopefully 1) help you listen to your body, 2) let you know it’s OK to listen to you body and 3) help you realize how freaking amazing it feels to listen to your body.

Even when I work with clients to create balance in their life, I rarely, if ever, will use the term “balance”.  The goal is having them learn that listening to their body will bring balanced eating.

Something I can totally get on board with…”healthy eating is all about being satisfied.”  My personal food philosophy is to EAT SATISFYING FOOD.  3 words.  It’s super simple.  My version of perfect eating is eating what is satisfying as often as possible.  If I follow that philosophy I do find balance that feels good physically and mentally.

my food philosophy = Eat Satisfying Foods.

I choose to nourish my body not based off a number on the scale or a certain number of veggies eaten.  I choose to nourish my body by eating satisfying foods.

When eating a meal, I know when to stop based on feeling physically full, but more so based on when I find satisfaction.  This means it’s key to identify what I’m craving before I start eating, because if I’m not eating what I’m craving it will be impossible to find satisfaction.

Here’s an actionable step you can take: For the next day aim for satisfaction at every meal and snack. Maybe that means you go out for every meal.  Maybe that means you call your mom to get her recipe for ‘X’ so you can make it.  But for one day aim to be insanely satisfied by your food choices more than you are aiming for mere physical fullness.

If you have a difficult relationship with food and your body, I hope you will look into my online course and see if it is something that resonates with you.

satisfying food = cafe pastry + muesli + latte in san fran | immaEATthat.com

42 comments on “Why I’ve always hated the word ‘balance’.”

  1. Kylie, thank you so much for this post. As someone in an eating disorder relapse, I find your posts absolute life lines. I also love your posts on what you eat and how normal eating actually looks. Please keep doing these types of posts, they are so helpful. And you are a rockstar! You are a light in such a triggering world. Thank you. 

  2. It’s always interesting for me to hear how various words/phrases may trigger individuals. I’ve used balance with some of my newly diagnosed diabetics as a way to communicate they don’t have to completely stop eating their favorite foods. The word balance bothers me in terms of “balance what’s going in with what’s going out”, giving the impression that we have to exercise off every thing we eat when our bodies do a find job utilizing nutrients in other ways too.
    I certainly agree on the issue that dietitians/nutrition professors don’t talk about enjoying food and taking pleasure in eating enough. That’s the whole point. Sure, food is medicine, but part of the medicine is the joy and company it brings.

    • Love–>”our bodies do a fine job utilizing nutrients in other ways too.” I tell a client at least once a day “our bodies can process everything…it is our mind that gets in the way.” I SO wanna start speaking at nutrition undergrad programs about enjoying food. A presentation in defense of eating what satisfies you.

  3. I think the thing that gets me the most frustrated is how off-balance most people’s perspective of balance is. As if balance means cancelling out or making up for ‘bad’ foods. Like you ate a donut so now you have to balance (aka punish) yourself with only vegetables or whatever. 
    The scales of “balance” are tipped heavily in the direction of restrictive eating. As if one bit of chocolate cake must be balanced by one hour of exercise or one week of dieting. Ugh. 
    I started writing my comment thinking I was down with the word balance, but now I’m annoyed too! Thanks, Kylie ?

    • Yes! I was trying to articulate my thoughts and this is it. We see balance as a scale that gets tipped side to side. If the connotation of balance was more along the lines of “eat a variety of foods” then I don’t think it would be such a triggering word.

    • Didn’t mean to make you hate the word lol! I agree the scales of balance can be tipped heavily in the direction of restrictive eating (especially in the “healthy” living blogger sphere)…maybe that’s why the word frustrates me. I just hate any “I MUST do x” when it comes to eating.

      I think Robyn Coale (http://www.thereallife-rd.com/), put it best…”Health is so not a sphere of kale and sweat.” It’s so much bigger than that. For me, part of health is having NO “i MUST do x” with food and NO “my eating MUST look like x”.

  4. In the way you’ve described, I absolutely see what you mean about the word balance. I think that sometimes we forget how careful we need to be with our words, especially when dealing with certain populations, and also the deep understanding that each patient we all see as RDs will have different needs! For me, coming out of my issues with distorted body image, the word “balance” actually helped me to identify more positive thoughts, and allowed me to feel more satisfied by eating what I WANTED opposed to what SOCIETY may have told me to eat. (If that makes sense).

    Also on a completely unrelated note, ever since you started talking about the Mindy Project on the blog (AMAZING SHOW BTW), your site has been flooded with advertisements for it. Lol.

    • lol I hope they are pretty and pink ads hahaha! Love me some Mindy;)

      I love the conversation we have going here. It’s good for me to remember the word ‘balance’ can bring healing and be helpful to many. This is why I think having supervision from a CEDRD is super important…so I can realize my issues and not bring them into session with clients with me.

  5. Your words continue to help me recover from disordered eating habits I was experiencing in their peak about three years ago. Reading this reassured me on this cloudy Tuesday I am doing what is right for my body. Sometimes I second guess myself, or fall into the dreadful comparison trap. Reading a post like this helps me remember what eating should me like. Thank you <3

  6. I really like your posts where you share what you eat for meals or what you eat in a day! I still struggle with feeling like I should stick to certain things for meals, not snack as much, guilt for “unhealthier” things, etc., and the other day when you posted about eating scrambled eggs and two cheesy muffins for breakfast, I was like wow, I guess I could eat two muffins too and actually be fine. haha. So I am always appreciative into your life insights! :)

  7. As always, your blog is SUCH a breath of fresh air. I always used that phrase regarding balance and even use it now with my renal patients. Unfortunately, as someone mentioned above, balance can have different meanings for different people. I think my biggest hurdle is seeing people with chronic diseases and weak bodies. Rather than seeing the body as amazing and resilient (which it is!), there are days that I feel the opposite. Does that make sense? I hear about diabetes and carbohydrates so much that it triggers me to be more mindful of my choices. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but rather than truly eat intuitively until I’m satisfied, I subconsciously focus on the carb content of a meal because I’m talking about it at work so often. Bottom line: I’m trying to separate the population I work with from myself, and your blog continues to be so so helpful!

  8. This is amazing, Kylie. Its amazing how one simple concept can speak so powerfully to us – for me right now this is your challenge to simply, for one day, eat purely for satisfaction. What a concept. I’m really going to keep this in my thoughts. Thank you – as always. 

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. For all your posts, actually. I’m struggling with a serious relapse in my eating disorder and reading your posts and seeing what a normal day of eating can look like is really encouraging. I recently started feeling some serious guilt for feeling triggered by outside influences at work in particular, but reading your perspective helps me realize there isn’t anything to feel guilty about! It’s a legitimate thing to be getting triggered, and taking a hard look at those things and dissociating from them is what’s going to help me recover. Not pushing myself into a more negative place because of my feelings. I don’t know if that makes sense, but you are helping me so much more than you know, and your posts are literally beacons of light for me these days. Thank you so much, Kylie. <3

    • Yep. Totally a legitimate thing to get triggered by. I heard Jessica Setnick say at a conference one time that there will be triggering people in your life that you have to be around (those who won’t change…family members, coworkers, etc.) and when those people say triggering things it’s helpful for you to think “purple, purple, purple” or repeat some other random phrase to yourself over and over again until they are done talking. Also Brene Brown has a good quote that relates. She says something like, when you come across something you don’t agree with, “Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Just stand your ground.”

      Instead of letting yourself be pushed into a more negative space..STAND YOUR GROUND. You got this, Jessica!

  10. Yes! Please keep sharing your food posts. They are extremely helpful and refreshing :) LOVE your blog.

  11. Kylie, I love your perspective on self-love, acceptance, and satisfaction. I know it takes effort and resilience to get to the place you are with your eating and your journey. I continue to try to do that. Some days are better than others, lately it has been a bit of a struggle. I find that your posts encourage me and redirect me along a healthier line of thinking, allowing me to be gentle with myself. Thank you so much.

    • So glad these posts help you be gentler with yourself<3<3 Growth grows from self-compassion, not self-hatred/self-judgement...keep trying to be gentle.

  12. As always, another post that makes me go, “YES! This is EXACTLY what I’m struggling with right now, or all the time!”

    First, I love your day of eats posts, and I absolutely love it when you post one as a blog post (although I love your IG posts too!) because its such a great reminder that you CAN eat everything. You can eat a burger for lunch and still have snack and dinner, you CAN have chocolate covered almonds as something sweet to end the meal. AND, it’s normal for some days to be all about CARBS, and others not so much. They really help me calm down in my most anxious moments… although some of your foods really just create food envy ;). Why can’t I have a salad that looks like that right now?! Haha.

    Second, I can’t stand when people use the word balance, because it’s exactly like you say, a scale tipped to one side and then the other, and in modern day and age it’s more like “compensation” as opposed to “balance”. Like, “Oh it’s fine to eat a burger for lunch, but you can bet I’ll be “craving” a salad for dinner.” And suddenly if we get to dinner and we’re not only wanting a plate of veggies, we’ve done something wrong. That sounds like food rules to me, and that makes me want to bike (because no running for me either!) in the other direction!

    Another one that gets me is, “Everything in moderation.” To me that honestly sounds like, everything MUST be in moderation, which means that everything must be LESS than the standard in order to moderate. Like, you can have ice cream, but that ice cream better be no more than 1/2 cup. Or you can have fries, but you can’t have ALL of your fries when you go to a restaurant. Again, more rules, in the name of “moderation” and “health”.

    We need to take these ideas of quantity out of the equation, and replace them with QUALITY. And I’m not talking about whole grains and the avocado train… I’m talking about exactly what you said, eating foods that SATISFY you and eating until you are SATISFIED. Simple. Or not really, but it could be if we took everything else out of the mix.

  13. i haven’t even read
    this post yet –
    just the first couple of
    lines and i have to
    run into a meeting
    but i have to say
    i love you and i thank you.
    you are doing GREAT THINGS.
    x

  14. whoops –
    CARRI! my name is CARRI.
    (not carr. ; )
    whatevvvvvvvvver…
    xoxoxo

  15. THANK YOU for this post! Well, for all of your posts actually. I’m currently struggling with a relapse of my ED, and your posts help SO much to remind me of what are “normal” thoughts about food/eating. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can recover on my own without professional help. But, until I find the help I need, your posts are incredibly inspiring/helpful. So, thank you :)

  16. LOVE love love. “These external happenings can be cleanses you find on pinterest, some restrictive eating pattern Dr. Oz irresponsibly mentions, or meal photos a “healthy living” blogger who is deep in their eating disorder posts on IG. ” YES! And thank you – I feel like people do not realize that those Insta posts are not necessarily healthy, regardless of how pretty the teeny salad may appear. Id on’t have an ED and yet even find myself sometimes questioning myself based on what some people on Insta share. Applause for your refreshingly frank and realistic approach to eating (and overall life)

    • Thanks for the comment, Joelle! I attended a talk on social media and eating disorders recently. The presenter/researcher did a study in 2014 on the top “healthy living” blogs and found that that 24% of the bloggers had eating disorders, 33% of the bloggers had menstruation or fertility problems, 76% of bloggers were currently on a diet or had dieted recently, 52% of bloggers included some form of written negative/guilt inducing messages about food.

      All that to say…DON’T QUESTION YOURSELF! Question all the crap out there!!!

  17. Hi Kylie! I just wanted to say how much I enjoy both your blog and your Instagram feed. It IS super helpful to see your meals, because as someone who struggles with disordered eating, I enjoy seeing normal meals that aren’t based around Whole30 terms or other dieting mentalities. Thank you for the wisdom you share regarding food and healthy eating habits. Keep writing and posting! :)

  18. Thank you thank you thank you! I love what you said about someone who models NORMAL eating behaviors on IG! So YES, it is extremely helpful and valuable for me (and I am sure many others) to see. :) It’s so easy to get sucked in to posts about meal prep, cleanses, #cleaneating, etc. I love seeing what you post and look forward to your next post, always! Thank you, keep up the amazing work!

  19. I think it is so awesome and encouraging that you share your daily eats, it (well for me anyway) reminds me of what true healthy eating is, and gives me something to continue to work towards. To often we are told to eat less, move more- your blog and social media seriously is always that breath of fresh air that I need EVERY DAMN DAY!

    Keep doing what your doing!

  20. Kylie, your blog helps me SO much. Thank you thank you thank you.

  21. “if you listen to your body…balance is what happens naturally.” SO perfectly said! I love that

  22. “WHY DID NO ONE FREAKING SAY THAT TO ME IN MY 5 YEARS I WORKED TOWARDS BECOMING AN RD?” <— AMEN! The time I spent becoming an RD did more to push me into disordered eating than all the other years living in our twisted society ever did. It can be a toxic environment. Thank you for writing this; it DOES help. It is like being pulled up for fresh air after being suffocated by something I thought I used to love (but was just using to perpetuate poor body image and disordered eating). You are helping get me and so many others out of this. Please continue!

  23. LOVE! ? I am with you 100% about the terms balance and moderation. Too often, especially with food and movement, we become obsessed with the little details like how many carbs we ate or squat jumps we did in a day instead of looking at the big picture. And we may get a little detail “perfect”, but if we focus on each detail too much, the big picture won’t come together. I think it’s so easy to do the same thing with balance and think that each day or meal has to be exactly even, when in reality, balance is a pursuit that should come naturally, like you said, and should be a lifelong type of deal. It’s like trying to regulate the gas your car uses so you use the same amount each day, instead of using lots when you have lots of places to go and using a little or none on stay at home days. If you regulate it daily, you might use the same amount each day, but you’re not going to get very far or be able to enjoy drive-free days. (I have a long commute right now, hence the bad car analogy. ?) If we can zoom out and look at the big picture, I think balance comes so much more intuitively and is actually enjoyable.
    P.S. I love all your posts and the ones about how you eat to satisfy are SO needed in this messed up world! ❤️

  24. I just wanted to reiterate what you and others have said – while I love being an RD and truly value my education, the academic program either caused or heightened my obsession with food. Rather than enjoy and allow my body to strike its own balance, I, too fell into a trap of sorts. I’m glad I’m not alone! I hope the curriculum can one day be revised so that it doesn’t foster a diet mentality.

  25. Pingback: day in the life: eats, work, movement – Yeah…Immaeatthat

  26. Pingback: Friday Favorites - November 2016 - The Cookie ChRUNicles

  27. Pingback: The Weekender 11/19 - Oats & Rows

  28. Pingback: Good good links #170 – Let's get living

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top