Keep things like this in mind when you are feeling any sort of ‘guilt’ or ‘shame’ around your eating lifestyle. Eating for a lifetime will involve cake at weddings, apples from an orchard, cupcakes from a bakery, fresh produce from a farmer’s market, etc. etc.
You’re allowed to eat food that tastes good! Will eating for your goals require sacrificing eating your entire box of cereal in a sitting or the third scoop of peanut butter out of the jar? Most likely, yes. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat cardboard and celery every day.
Think of your food choices like a spectrum… on a scale of 1–10, how healthy is the food you’re eating? A ‘10’ will be different for everyone and so will a ‘1’. However, an apple might be an ‘8’ and a piece of cake might be a ‘3’. There are worse options than cake and better options than apples (for this lifetime eater that is)…
If I were to compare an apple to a bag of jelly beans, most would agree that obviously the apple is the better choice. But they are both carbohydrate dominant, high in sugars, and may not be very filling (for some). Meanwhile, a piece of cake compared to a sleeve of thin mint cookies, most would agree that clearly a piece of cake is the better choice. Both are high in fats and carbohydrates with minimal protein, high in sugars, and can leave you wanting more.
But do you notice the portion sizes above?
An apple vs. a bag of jelly beans…
A piece of cake vs. a sleeve of thin mint cookies…
Look, you’re going to want to celebrate your friends birthday and eat cake with them or your child might be having their 8th birthday party and cake is going to be tempting you…
So, guess what? Eat. The. Damn. Cake. Or have the damn jelly beans.
Then move on.
It’s not a “diet” (I despise that word…) it’s a lifestyle.
Having a piece of cake rather than having half a cake allows for you to enjoy delicious food without overindulging. It’s all about balance here, team, and moving in the direction of your goals.
From a lifestyle perspective, it’s more efficient and effective to have a piece of cake every. single. day. than it is to eat a whole cake on the weekend! Now, that might not help you reach your goals, but my goodness… depriving yourself of things you enjoy will cause more stress, resentment, and a whole lot of bitterness.
Allow yourself to live and eat foods that you love while also balancing the scale of 1–10 in the direction of your goals. When we think on a spectrum or scale of 1–10, there will (almost always) be better or worse choices than the ones we are making when it comes to eating food. So enjoy some ‘3s’ and balance those out with some ‘8s’, then turn the dial up overall when you are practicing more discipline or journeying toward a specific goal.
If you’re a physique competitor or fitness model, you’ll probably want to stick with 8s, 9s, and 10s for a good 90% of the time. While the rest of the world probably would do well with 6s through 9s and the occasional 3s and 4s thrown in. Allowing ourselves to look at nutrition as a spectrum rather than a ‘unhealthy’ vs. ‘healthy’ gives us the freedom to live our lives without obsessing over food. It’s food. Have a relationship with it.
Stressing out about food only causes more stress. That’s a hard pass for me. And when it comes to nutrition, you have to do what works for you. Will it require some sacrifices? Sure. But so does learning the guitar, or raising a family, or building a business. You’ll have to practice some discipline, make a commitment, and learn from others who have already been where you are starting (and even better if they are qualified to coach and guide you).
Fill up on quality proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and so many more. Make eating an enjoyable experience that enhances your lifestyle and doesn’t encourage shame and guilt. There are plenty of delicious foods (and recipes) to make eating incredibly enjoyable.
Ultimately, the best lifestyle is the one that works for you. If you can’t sustain your lifestyle (nutrition, mental health, and fitness), then you’ll only sacrifice your health. So, find what works best for you.
The choice is yours.
To your sustainable health,