Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Eating "clean" from the other side.

Disclaimer: I truly don't care how you eat. This is about me, and how I feel about clean eating and fad diets and other things as someone who struggles/struggled with this for a long time.

Subtitle: if your food needs a hashtag, you're doing it wrong.

I've gone over the many stages of my relationship with food before. The main take home of all those is I thought about food way too much. Many hours of my life were consumed by when I would eat next, how many calories it would be, and how many grams of protein/fat/carbs I'd be consuming. And because each day had a target goal for calories, and I was undereating, each of my meals came with the big question

"How long will these keep me full before I have to eat again?" 

The healthy people out there are hopefully scratching their heads, because seriously, I was not doing what my body was meant to do. I went through years of strictly timing my food because hunger cues were evil and not to be trusted. If I ate when I was hungry, I'd go back to being overweight immediately, right?

Y'all, weight gain sucks. It suckity suck suck sucks. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant and I'm not happy about it. I'm not saying that part isn't terrible. But constantly being hungry sucks too. Analyzing every meal to figure out just how filling to make it was a constant obsession (but never confuse filling with caloric. Because a huge pile of spinach is filling.). Thinking about how you SHOULDN'T be hungry because you just had 15g of protein and it's NOT TIME for another meal yet is NOT FUN. If I could tell 5 years ago me one thing, it would be to let it go.

Everything does not need to be counted and quantified. I got to the ripe old age of 17 without every counting a calorie. 17 years! Of bliss! People around the world lead happy, fulfilled lives and never scrutinize a nutrition label. They don't think about whether something fits into their special snowflake eating plan. Because THEY DON'T HAVE AN EATING PLAN.

Yes, I feel terrible about my weight. Every day. I hate how my clothes fit. The only thing I use the mirror for lately is to see how much of my belly pooch will hang out when my shirt rides up (I'm super duper hot. Be jealous of Nick). However, eating like a normal person is incredibly freeing (when I can manage to do it...). My husband eats when he's hungry. Yes, sometimes he has pretzels for dinner, but so what? He's not overanalyzing his food choices and he's quite pretty well. So when I see your "omg super #cleaneating" pictures on Facebook or blogs or whatever, it gives me pause. It makes me a little sad. It reminds me of how proud I used to be when I went to a restaurant and could only eat the bare-bones salad with dressing on the side (duh) because I just couldn't be "unhealthy" enough to stomach anything else. You know what I had for dinner last night? Fries as an appetizer, a big salad, two glasses of wine, and then more fries. In my defense, the appetizer fries were white potatoes with truffle salt and the entree fries were sweet potato (yes, I did indeed die of happiness). And although I was self-conscious about eating multiple potatoes for dinner, I got over it. I left dinner feeling pretty full but also quite happy. Did I worry about not getting protein? For a minute, but I didn't worry about it enough to stop me from tearing into the potato-y goodness. Old me would have chosen what I saw as the moral high road (I hate myself just for typing that) and eaten air instead of 6 servings of potatoes. New me says "screw it." I prefer to look like a weirdo with a carb obsession instead of the frigid, picky bitch who subsists on spinach.

I know that clean eating is a thing and it makes people feel good. It makes me feel good too, really! Veggies are good for you and I love eating them. I know that certain foods ARE better for you. Given the choice, I would have preferred that one serving of my potato dinner would have been replaced by a veggie burger or something a little more substantial. But I ate to sate my hunger, and it was delicious, and I left happy. And I'm trying to let that be the only thing that matters.

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