Food for thought: Embracing our indulgences

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on February 6, 2011

The original post of moderation began with Angela from The Diet Book Junkie, then passed to Erin from The Healthy Apron, then to Stef at The New Healthy [which is where I picked up the thread]. Each of the ladies took a different approach to the conversation. The one that spoke to me the most was Stef’s post on the backwards mentality she held for years -

It was my “all-or-none” mentality at work. It’s that little voice that says: ‘you already ate that [insert junk food of choice], you might as well just have an off-day.’

I struggled with this same mentality for a very long time.It was a indulge + punishment or sabotage behavior, losing myself and obsessing about what I’d decided to eat.  I often said to myself – if I ‘cheat’ today, the whole day is done. I may as well lose myself in this moment of indulgence and surrender to everything.

In these moments of indulgence I would often get very, very hard on myself, thinking horrible things about the way I looked, acted, and attacked myself in every negative way possible.

After years of working on my relationship with food I can now say: it doesn’t need to be like this.

I also work with a lot of my clients on this very issue. So many of us believe that once we’ve ‘cheated’ [I hate using that word] everything goes out the window. What we don’t realize, and what Stef explained very, very well, is that life goes on. We don’t need to sabotage the entire day and ourselves just because we chose to indulge in something.

Eating is good. Making healthy goals is good. Enjoying your favorite dessert is good.

I like to compare this indulging + sabotaging behavior to yoga, or any physical practice. Every time you get on your mat you’re going to have a different practice. It doesn’t mean one day is better than the other. Some days, you’ll fall into your king pigeon pose with ease, other days you’ll find it challenging to camel pose for more than 2.4 seconds.

When attending a yoga class you don’t see people roll up their mat 5 minutes into practice and leave the studio in a tiffy because their body is handing them unexpected challenges – not moving into a pose as it should, showing signs of pain in the oddest of areas, etc.  Instead, the yogi accepts that their body is in a different place than it was the day before. It’s not right, or wrong. It’s just different.

They continue their yoga session, move through the poses, and smile at the changes their body has made, and the challenges they’ve been faced with.

Same goes with eating. Everyday is a gift, everyday you’ll be challenged with something, but you don’t have to walk away from your practice of eating healthy. Bend through the tough poses and keep your eye on your goal – to live healthful, happy, and love yourself unconditionally, no matter what.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

thehealthyapron

Excellent follow up!! I love how you compared eating with yoga! BOTH are challenging but something to work on and practice! It takes years to really master the yoga practices and it will take years and years to really be able to grasp the concept of well balanced eating, allowing all foods, not feeling guilty for eating anything, etc. Great post!

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Leanne

Thanks, Erin! It’s true, it does take a long, long time. What a fun journey though! Thanks for writing about this fantastic topic.

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Sona Khosla

Great post, Leanne. The fact that we “cheat” shows how much of a diet mentality culture we live in and how black and white we are in our thinking. We are on or we are off (the diet, the bandwagon, whatever). We are in or we are out. We are winning or we are losing. We are having good days or we are having bad days. The bottom line is that we don’t have to be so black and white about everything. And if we weren’t, we might realize that our minds contribute just as much to our unhealthy state of being as our eating does. By the way, have you read The Yoga of Eating? I think you’d like it. http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0967089727?ie=UTF8&tag=sonkho-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641&creativeASIN=0967089727

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Leanne

I’ve never heard of it, I’ll have to check it out. Thanks, Sona!

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Stefanie @TheNewHealthy

I absolutely love your follow-up to this! Especially the yoga analogy–it’s so true. Also, I didn’t realize that Angela from the Diet Book Junkie had started this! Now I have another post to read! :)

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Angela (the diet book junkie)

this is such a great discussion, and i thought your comparison to yoga was spot-on. i think women sometimes beat themselves up over the silliest things, food included. it’s actually been proven that indulging once in a while isn’t a big deal, it’s even healthy! (keeps you sane.at least for me. :) )

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Leanne

Thanks, Angela. Couldn’t agree with you more!

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