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”.
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.
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.)
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.
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.