Ever since childhood, we are told by friends, family, and the media that there are "good" foods and "bad" foods. We're told "don't eat that...that's bad for you!" But unfortunately, everyone's good intentions turn us into a food-fearing culture. Diets put food in strict categories: healthy, unhealthy, good, bad, fatty, low-cal, light, fat-free, diet...the list goes on and on. But, as you may have realized by now, life is never that black and white. That's why it's so important to cultivate a healthy relationship with ALL foods. Yes, that's right....All foods.
Labeling food is dangerous because it puts too many restrictions on living. As you may have realized, when you have too many rules for yourself and consistently deprive your body, you usually wind up overeating and therefore feeling fat, ugly, and like a failure (not a great place to be when you're trying to maintain a balanced, healthy life). But cookies, cake, chocolate, cheese, cocktails, and carbs (and all other "bad" foods) can be incorporated into even the healthiest of nutrition regimens. The key is moderation. If you allow yourself small indulgences, you're much less likely to go completely overboard because you've limited yourself too much.
If you work towards listening to your authentic stomach hunger (not irrational cravings) and feed yourself what you truly desire, you're much less likely to feel like the victim of a strict, unrealistic diet. Depriving yourself sets you up for failure. It's human nature to crave what you "cannot" have. So, if you decide that you're going to give up sweets in an attempt to be "healthier", you'll probably find that you begin to crave sweets even more!
With the New Year approaching, many people are probably brainstorming what resolutions they wish to make for 2009. Instead of making your resolution to "lose 20 pounds" or "drop 2 dress sizes", consider striving for a healthier relationship with food and your body. If you attempt to cultivate an understanding of your body and its needs, instead of restricting and punishing it, your quality of life will greatly increase, and I can almost guarantee your pants size will decrease!
Happy New Year!