Mindful Eating: Stopping the Cycle of Extremes (Eat the hotdog!)

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This Labor Day weekend got me thinking about baseball games, festivals, cooking out, swimming at the lake, and all the foods we associate with holiday weekends. When you're trying to eat healthy, these weekends can be stressful -  but they don't have to be. 

What you eat is important. Food is fuel - and you want your body running at its best. However, how you eat is important as well. This post is the first in an ongoing series about mindful eating. Today, we tackle the issue of restrictive eating. 

When we want to lose weight, our plan is typically to deprive ourselves of all the foods we love. We vow to never eat cookies again. We throw out all the ice cream. And we swear off carbs - all of them. Despite cutting them out, we can't stop thinking about them. And when we crave, we cave. The cycle continues. The guilt comes back.

Eating better shouldn't be a battle of extremes. We shouldn't associate situations with "being good" or "being bad." This pits food against each other and re-enforces the perspective that good, healthy food is not fun but something you should rebel against on the weekends (aka #cheatday). By allowing ourselves to enjoy the food we sometimes crave - hotdogs at the baseball game, ice cream cake at our son's birthday party, our mother's pecan pie at Thanksgiving - we take the pressure off. We develop a more relaxed, more conscious, more intentional way of eating. We remain in control. We see how the foods we crave fit in our lives - and we work around that. No more ultimatums. 

One of my favorite quotes that I've heard about restrictive eating is "deprivation is a binge in the bank." 

Deprivation never works in the long term. Focus on enjoyment, not denial. You'll end up eating less of these foods because you won't be using them to make up for something. You'll just enjoy them for what they are and move on - hopefully to something healthier :). 

eatingJulie Minchew