I read a quote yesterday as I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and at first glance it was something I agreed with. After reading it again and thinking about it a little longer though I became so emotionally wrought for a good ten minutes I swear you could have seen the steam coming out of my ears and my face turning a deep shade of red. The quote you ask?
“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.”
Yeah, at face value sure that’s awesome and very true. The person who eats kale, grass-fed beef, and washes it down with a tall glass of cold-pressed juice 80% of the time will be healthier than the person who runs through the Taco Bell drive-thru 80% of the time. But THOSE ARE NOT YOUR ONLY OPTIONS.
I eat a cookie daily and I am not any less healthy because of it. I eat chocolate after almost every meal and I am not any less healthy because of it. I have three snacks a day and I am not any less healthy because of it. I don’t deny myself when I crave mac & cheese or cake and I don’t cut out carbs/gluten/dairy/nuts/everything-in-this-world-that-tastes-good because “It’s more healthy for me.”
Food is more than health, it’s more than fuel, and it is more than sustenance. It’s the way we celebrate, it’s how we are comforted and comfort others, it’s how we gather, it’s how we identify culturally and it’s unfair for fitness professionals (or anyone for that matter) to spread fears and misinformation about what food is and isn’t. When I see things like this being spewed all over the Internet I can’t help but get so emotionally charged and I can’t help but wonder why? Why do I feel so emotional when people spew bullshit and lay down rules that have absolutely no context in anyone else’s life? Part of me wants to say because I’m surrounded by Registered Dietician’s who have filled me with so much scientific knowledge that I can smell the bullshit from a mile away. Part of me wants to say it makes me sad to see others so scared of food and so sad around foods that make me so happy. But the bigger part of me wants to say it’s because I’ve been through the gamut of not knowing a single thing about nutrition, to depriving myself and bingeing, to counting calories and macros and to finally have found food freedom that I don’t want others to dig themselves into a hole of misinformation, wreck their metabolism and end up with a terrible relationship with food.
We need to start normalizing food. It’s time that we stop freaking out when someone offers us a piece of cake or a cookie. It’s time we feel confident in our food choices and comfortable with moderation. The Taco bell isn’t bad and the kale isn’t good, it’s all just FOOD—but it’s also so much more than just food. Health cannot be quantified by the number of kale smoothies we drink and we are not rewarded for how many times we deny ourselves that piece of chocolate cake. When we think in terms of “That cake is going to make me unhealthy so I better stick to the greens” we are already unhealthy. Health is building good and consistent habits around sleep, stress management, movement and food and disconnecting our self worth from what we look like and how “clean” or diets can be.
So no, the food you eat does not either make you more healthy or less healthy and those are not your only options. The food you eat can make you happy, sad, lethargic, satisfied, nostalgic, hungry and so many other emotions that cannot be summed up by being more or less healthy.
Eat in a way that makes you happy and makes you feel good. Eat in a way that makes you confident in not only the way your body looks but also in the way it moves. I can’t tell you what that is but I believe the first step to normalizing food is by sharing it and talking about it. So I’m sharing what I ate yesterday—every single thing that I ate. By no means am I saying eat it too or don’t eat it. I’m saying this is what I eat, I like to talk about what I eat and I love asking other people what they eat too.
Pre-workout while I read my daily devotional and bible verse was half a cookie (yep, only half and yep every single day!) It’s a running joke now that if I have a bad lift I immediately blame it on not having a cookie. I washed the cookie down with half a scoop of vanilla protein powder mixed with water (in my Superman shaker obviously).
Post-workout and for breakfast I had steel-cut oatmeal with strawberries, cinnamon and stevia and three egg muffins topped with cheese and loaded with veggies. Old habits never die because this is my breakfast almost every single day.
Mid-morning snack was Greek yogurt mixed with a half scoop of protein powder and peanut butter. Packed with protein, this keeps me satisfied until lunch.
Before lunch I snacked on the rest of the snap peas I had left in my refrigerator—seriously if you need something to munch on these are so perfect! Not to mention they have been in my fridge for almost three weeks and haven’t gone bad yet!
Lunch was turkey meatballs I had made on Sunday that have spinach, breadcrumbs, eggs and Parmesan cheese in them. On the side I had ¼ avocado, Derek’s famous coleslaw he had made for a barbeque on Memorial Day, and roasted balsamic cauliflower and broccoli.
On my way out the door for work I needed something sweet so I grabbed a couple dark chocolate covered espresso beans and hit the road for my evening coaching shift.
When I came home from work I was starving and had been asking all my evening clients what they were going to have for dinner (I do this quite frequently). I couldn’t wait one minute while I was sautéing veggies and making a pizza for Derek so I had a few bites of the mac & cheese I bought yesterday after training.
Dinner was shredded barbeque chicken Derek had made in the crock-pot on Sunday with steamed broccoli and sautéed onions, zucchini and red pepper.
I always have an evening snack before I go to bed and it’s normally always yogurt. Last night I had a chocolate rice cake topped with peanut butter, banana and chocolate chips with a strawberry cheesecake Greek yogurt.
I hope that one-day food won’t be the enemy. Too often it is always the first thing that people want to change or the first thing that needs to be cut out when we look at fitness and more times than not, it needs to be the last. Health is more than food and food is more than health. Your options are endless—don’t let the Internet tell you otherwise.