Do you reward yourself with food following overly strict periods of dietary adherence? Why do you choose food as a reward? And do you think being overly strict deserves a reward?
Yes and no. I go through periods where I try to eat more whole foods and therefore focus less on sweets or processed foods. After a while, though, it can get boring. So I have days or weeks where I decide not to restrict anything, where nothing is off limits. Which still isn’t quite accurate since nothing is ever really “off limits” for me, but I may not have as much as I want because other goals outweigh that desire in the moment.
When I have periods of eating completely as I want, I don’t think of it as a reward. It’s more just another phase and another way of eating. For example, during my vacation in Italy, I knew there were going to be a lot of foods that I missed and wanted to experience. At that time, the goal was to enjoy Italy to the fullest. So for that week, I really didn’t think much about what I was eating so much as I thought about choosing what I wanted to experience in that moment.
Back home, on a day-to-day basis, I focus a lot on my athletic training. As such, rather than focusing on experiencing food, I tend to bring my attention to timing, quality of food, and macronutrients. Particularly in relation to when and how I’m training. As such, food becomes more of a tool for fueling my training. At least, for this particular moment in time with these goals.
In general, I don’t think being strict about anything around food deserves a reward. Rather, I think nutrition should always be focused on what your goal is in that moment. (And I think that goal needs to be realistic and healthy, both on a mental and physical level.) If the goal is to simply be more mindful about food, choose habits that build mindfulness. If the goal is to fuel workouts and trainings, choose habits that you know help you perform better. If the goal is to heal your relationship with food, choose habits that bring you closer to peace with food and your body.
Black Iron Nutrition is offering a 30 Day Mindful Eating Challenge that includes journal prompts and tasks to help bring more mindfulness to our relationships with food. And I’m in! This post is in response to today’s prompt to keep myself accountable and get the most out of my participation. If you’re interested in joining the free challenge, sign up at Black Iron Nutrition’s website here.