Nancy Polstein | Eating with Pride
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Eating with Pride

10 Jan Eating with Pride

We all know how this story goes. . . we are clear and focused in mid-December as we envision the new plans and strategies that we will implement come January.  Through the haze of our less than stellar food choices and through the lens of our self-reproach, we imagine that in just a few weeks’ time we will dig deep and find the strength and tenacity to turn it all around.  We will exercise, we will eat right, we will track our food choices, we will stop eating at 7:00 p.m.  Whatever.  These are all excellent options and excellent strategies to help us move toward a healthy mind and body.  The problem is that January is really a lot like December, which looks a lot like last year, and the consistency that these resolutions require can be hard to sustain.  And this is not inherently a problem . . . except when a little setback or deviation from the “program” invites a sense of failure, guilt or shame.

How about this for a resolution?

For a day, or a week, or for however long it feels right. . . eat in a way that makes you proud.  Eat so that at the end of the day you can look back and feel good about the choices you’ve made at each one of those tiny little decision points along the way. Allow your choices to be driven by how you want to “be” with food, not only by what you eat.   The beauty of this is that it will mean something slightly different to each one of us.  Does it feel great to log and keep track of everything that you are eating? Great!  Go for it.  Does it feel really good to walk away from the refrigerator and get on the treadmill? Fantastic! And does it feel really good to join in the camaraderie of baking with your kids and licking the bowl of frosting together? That’s great too.

What makes this resolution hard, though, is that it requires something different from keeping a log and keeping organic food in the house.  It requires a true, honest to goodness, gut check.   Be honest here.  Does it feel good to have that first cookie? Great.  Enjoy it, savor it, relish it.  How about the second one? An extension of pleasure? Bravo!  The third? Maybe not so much.  Be honest here.  When does it stop feeling good, and when do old habits kick in (“I’ll finish this row and then tomorrow I will really really mean it”)?  What’s the tipping point between enjoyment and judgement?  It is this moment of awareness, and not rule following, that will be your guide.

What I like about this kind of resolution is that it belongs to each of us.  We create the guidelines, and they can change and evolve with us, not in opposition to us.  When we can get to the place where we are really paying attention, we can act in accordance with our own sense of what feels right for us, at this moment.  It keeps us in contact with our own needs, not trying to ignore, deny or override them.  But remember – you need to be paying attention.

So try it out.  Make choices that will add up to a sense of pride at the end of the day.  I know that the pizza I ate the first night my son was home from college was among the best meals I have had in a long time.  Could I have opted for a protein-enhanced salad that night instead? Sure.  And over the course of our vacation time together I certainly shifted back into choices that I know work best for me.  But it felt good to dig in with him; to share – I mean really share – a meal together.

I am sure that when we eat with pride as our guideline, we inhabit a body that reflects that pride.  Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.