I’ve gotten a lot of questions on Instagram lately related to how to manage different fear foods or how to overcome avoiding certain foods/food groups because you’ve heard they were “bad” or you’re afraid they’ll make you gain weight, etc.
I could probably write an entire novel on this topic as it’s such an important one to cover – but since that’s not likely to happen in the next day or so, I wanted to write up a quick post sharing a few (hopefully helpful!) tips with you on it.
1.Avoid categorizing foods as “good” or “bad”
When we categorize food as “good” or “bad” we introduce a lot of guilt associated with food and eating. This guilt can then lead to more emotional eating than might otherwise happen (i.e. “I ate this ‘bad’ food, so now I’m ‘bad’ or “I ate this ‘bad’ food and now I feel guilty so I’m going to keep eating even though I feel full and sick, etc.”) and this takes us away from eating intuitively.
2. Challenge yourself to evaluate your fear foods
Have certain foods or food groups become fear foods because you feel physically awful every time you eat them? If that’s the case, I would encourage you to work with a professional to help navigate that process.
If you’re avoiding foods or food groups because you read they were bad or a friend told you to or you think they’re going to make you gain weight, take a minute to think about that and whether or not it really makes sense for YOU. I can tell you that no one food group is going to cause weight gain over another when enjoyed in moderation (and again, if you find this is the case, consult a professional). Part of living a healthy, happy life means finding room for the things you love & enjoy. Incorporating all the foods you enjoy in moderation will lead to a healthier relationship with food, a more stable weight and a happier you long-term.
3. Consider your source / do your research
It’s always important to consider your source before cutting out a food or food group for any reason other than a medical necessity. Who gave you that information? Were they a qualified professional who presented you with valid research (emphasis on “valid” as not all research is!) to support their claims? If not, consult a professional and ask if there are facts to back up the claims. Anyone can put information out there but that doesn’t mean it’s fact-based and verified. Be weary of cutting things out “just because.”
4. Let your body rule
I know I say this all the time, but don’t be afraid to let your body guide you. You’d be surprised how good our bodies are at knowing what we need. When we give ourselves permission to listen to our bodies versus trying to fight them, we release a lot of the outside power food might be holding over us. Doing this allows food to be something to enjoy, to fuel us, to celebrate with, to share an experience over, etc. – rather than something to fear.
I am a firm believer that all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Cutting out foods for no specific reason is unenjoyable and gives an unbelievable amount of power to that food (it’s not unusual to constantly think about the food you’re trying to avoid). It’s also likely not sustainable long-term.
If you’ve cut out certain foods that you love and enjoy, I would challenge you to work to incorporate them back into your diet. Start slow, maybe just a bite or two here and there at a meal, increasing as your comfort with that food begins to build again. Eventually, you can just allow your body to take over and dictate when you have what.
Remember, we all have different bodies, different needs, different lifestyles. Do what is right for YOU – things that will make YOU feel happy & healthy (both physically & mentally!) not miserable and deprived.9