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Flexible Eating: Why I Stopped Restricting Food

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March 16, 2020 | Author: Ashley McCrary
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Restrictive eating wasn’t allowing me to set healthy boundaries with myself or for my 2 little girls. By turning to flexible eating, I am learning how to truly enjoy food without the guilt and bondage that usually goes with that.
Why I Stopped Restricting & Started Flexible Eating

Disordered eating is something I have fought most of my life. Food to me has always been viewed food as “good” or “bad.” There has never been a happy middle ground. Fighting for my health, both physical and mental is something I have done the majority of my 33 years. Finally, I have come to the realization that I have to start practicing grace around food. Not only to be at peace with myself, but to also build strong health foundation around food for my girls. I want them to see food in a positive light and not go through the same pattern and cycles I have regarding disordered eating.

Through my life, there have been many programs I have completed that taught me something about my body and myself. Back in 2016 I found the Whole30 program and it totally transformed my life and my overall relationship with food. Not only did I lose 80 pounds, but I learned what foods were problematic for my body. After completing a few rounds of Whole30, my whole family decided to adopt the Paleo lifestyle. We all felt really good during this time and learned a ton about eating whole, clean food.

Fast forward to 2019, I found Keto and Intermittent Fasting and combined the two with my normal Paleo way of eating. Pretty much, I cut out a lot of the foods I enjoyed such as, sweet potatoes, honey and Paleo treats. In the beginning I felt good. I was fasting in a 16/8 window and it became easier the longer I did it.

This past Whole30 in 2020….

This past January I decided to combine both Whole30 with the emphasis of Keto and fasting, which isn’t recommended in the program outline. As a Whole30 Coach, I was aware that there are triggers that can develop for people who have had past eating disorders, such as myself. I ignored this suggestions and proceeded to complete the program by pushing the boundaries. In the past, the program never once triggered any negative thinking and always put me in an amazing mindset. However, this last time I pushed the boundaries a little too far it and set off a trigger with my unhealthy way of thinking about food.

Once the 30 days was up I became extremely obsessive over what I was eating and what time I was eating it. In addition, I began fasting for 24 and 48 hours at a time, which for me was not a healthy choice. I got in a nasty pattern again of starving and binging. This was a pattern I knew too well and it broke me. Instead of continuing down this path, I decided to reflect, pause and to figure out a solution.

While completing the Whole30 with fasting and Keto, I became extremely grumpy and even more depressed than I already was. The “fasting” was supposed to be “healthy” but it was really hurting my mental health. I was constantly tired and never felt satisfied. I was just a mess, but I thought this way of eating is what I HAD to do.

One day I just got tired and decided to stop Keto and Fasting. This was the best decision for me and I already FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. You see, this style of eating isn’t for everyone. Where it may be magical for someone’s body, it can be negative for someone else’s.

Feeling stuck with Restrictive Eating….

Parts of my disordered eating is feeling trapped. I will obsess over food all day long and toss and turn at night worrying about the foods I consume throughout the day. It’s almost like being in a prison in your mind. You can’t escape the fear of eating food. So what that looks like for me is, starve, starve, binge, which leads to weight gain and has an overall negative affect on the human body and mind.

Once I gain any weight at all, the demons and exhausting thoughts rush right back in like a titlewave. I start negotiating a plan in my head for how I am going to lose the weight. “I won’t eat for a week.” “I will do a 48 hour fast and not eat carbs until Sunday.” This last round of Whole30 with Fasting and Keto brought back all the negative ways of thinking and completely destroyed my relationship with food. This wasn’t due to the program itself, it was due to how I approached the program.

Once these feelings came back I became super anxious and sad because I thought these were feelings from the past. I thought I was over it. Through experience, I am finding that once you have an eating disorder, it never really goes away. It’s a battle you have to work on really hard every single day. The war never seems to end. Sometimes when you think you are nearing the finish line, you fall flat on your face.

If you are doing a Whole30, be sure to do it correctly:

Whole30 is an amazing program if completed correctly.This program is meant to reset your way of thinking and to discover problematic foods in a controlled setting. It is NOT meant to be a “diet” or completed as a “yoyo” fad diet every other month. It is meant to truly teach you what foods work with your body. Over the past 4 years I did the resets correctly every single time (14 times to be exact) and felt great. This past round was different because I thought I knew what was best. I was wrong.

This last time was different because I didn’t follow protocol and do it in a unhealthy way. I was doing it for the wrong reasons. Whole30 is meant as a learning tool, not another tool to lose weight. When I complete a Whole30 in the future, which I will, I will do it the right way and highly recommend you do the same.

Moral of the story, follow the program correctly and by the book. Don’t try to push the limits and create your own version of what you think is right. Melissa even talks about issues with fasting and completing a Whole30 at the same time. It can be extremely hard and dangerous for someone who has had past eating disorders. If you want to read more about that, be sure to click here

NO MORE RESTRICTING FOODS:

Here we are in March and am taking a new approach, NO MORE RESTRICTING FOOD. This approach is really to explore a new option of how to incorporate all my favorite foods in a healthy way. Recently, I started Flexible Eating and Counting my Macros. My long term goal is to lose body fat and tone up all while balancing food groups and not restricting them. I usually will think change has to happed in a week or 2, but this time I am setting year long goals. Our bodies can’t change in a day or a week. It really takes time to figure it all out.

The scariest part of starting this way of eating was adding carbs and clean sugars back to my diet. In order to fully understand this process and to have support, I have an amazing coach that is supporting and walking me step by step through the process. He simplifies everything for me and takes away the fear of having a slice of bread of adding brown rice to my chicken. Already I have learned so much about my body and how to incorporate my beloved foods into everyday life without the bondage and negative power it used to have over me. This has been such an amazing and freeing experience so far. Like a weight is being lifted off my chest and I can finally enjoy all foods, not just Paleo and Keto.

So far I have completed three weeks of flexible eating and macro counting and my mood has done a complete 360 in the best ways. I’m learning to eat the foods I want in a controlled way without spiraling into a binge fest. Used to, if I ate a cookie, I would feel guilty then say “screw it,” and eat another 5 cookies followed by a week of restricting and starving. This pattern has lingered in my life too long. I am tired and I think this is the change I have been needing. Below are all the improvements I have noticed from Flexible Eating over the past 3 weeks.

Flexible Eating Improvements:

  • Better sleep
  • More energy throughout the day
  • Minimal cravings and always feel satisfied
  • Happier
  • Sharper Focus
  • Clothes fit better
  • Lost 5 pounds of PURE FAT and NOT MUSCLE
  • Lost 3 inches off my body
  • Feel completely satisfied because I am eating foods I enjoy!

What is Flexible Eating and Macro Counting?

Flexible Eating and Counting Macros is a technique used to lose weight by tracking macronutrients (proteinfat, and carbohydrates) without restricting food choices. Macros are the only place calories come from so by hitting macros, users inherently hit weight loss calories. One of the main benefits of flexible dieting is this type of approach takes away the psychological stress that can come with restrictive eating diets/plans.

Regardless if you like to eat pizza or chicken breasts, Flexible Eating and Counting Macros teaches us how to eat for the goals you have without restricting. If you eat fewer calories than your body requires (while getting adequate protein, carbs, fat and fiber based on your goals and the energy needs of your body) you will lose weight at a steady and predictable rate.

To learn more about Flexible Eating, CLICK HERE.

“AHA” Moment & Finding Food Freedom With Flexible Eating:

My goal in sharing this “aha” moment is to hopefully inspire you to find what works for you. I’m not here to tell you that there is a certain way to eat or diet plan out there that is going to cure all your fears regarding food. It is so important that we all listen to our individual bodies and go from there. Paleo, Keto, and Whole30 has all been so beneficial to me in the past and has taught me something about my body. I still love all my Paleo, Keto and Whole30 recipes and plan to incorporate them into my current lifestyle. However, I just refuse to be so restrictive with all the RULES and to allow myself to be miserable.

Everyone’s journey to food freedom is different. We don’t need to label everything “good” or “bad.” Bottom-line, we just have to listen to our bodies and eat in a way that is healthy, enjoyable and sustainable. Food is meant to be enjoyed. When it comes to a point where food is viewed as bondage, it’s time to take a step back and heal mentally.

Do what works for your body:

There is not a right or wrong way to eat. Some people feel their best on Keto while others need carbs. Some people thrive on fasting, while it really effects others in a negative way. Find what works for you and do it. Don’t feel like you have to go with the crowd. Our bodies are different and need different things. Something that worked for you last year may not work for you this year. That’s the amazing thing about reflections. We learn and grow so we can continue moving with our best foot forward.

Some people will assume that me counting Macros is restrictive and you know what I say to them, “HUSH…. I don’t need to hear your opinion.” Seriously! We ALL have a different journey to health. Each walk is different and it is not supposed to be so black and white. We all have different battles we are fighting and it’s not fair for others to judge your journey. It’s easy to say to “Just eat healthy,” but to those of us who have had to fight, that’s a HARD concept to grasp!

What is considered “healthy?”

Healthy means different things to different people. You may think ice cream is healthy and I may think a apple is healthy. We all have our own way to categorize healthy based on our bodies. Actually in my opinion, they both are healthy and can be incorporated in your diet in a controlled way. One is not good nor bad, they are both just food that is meant to be eaten.

You know what the funny part is? The majority of people who have an opinion on your journey to health are the ones who have never had to fight for their weight or their mental well being. They usually love giving tips and tricks for how to get healthy, but they have never had to walk through a hurricane to try to get to the other side without being broken. It really gets under my skin taking advice from someone who doesn’t know what my walk looks like.

People will even down play weightloss. They will say, “You really shouldn’t focus on that.” I agree to an extent, but some people have worked their ASSESS off to get to a health point both physically and mentally and deserve a dang celebration. My friend Natalie over at Tastes Lovely does Keto and has lost almost 65 pounds naturally. At one point I dropped almost 80 pounds. Y’all, that’s a dang celebration and if you don’t see it as that, then that is truly sad.

NEGATIVE NANCY:

So whatever you are doing, do it for you and NOT NEGATIVE NANCY! Have a purpose and whether it’s Keto, Paleo, Whole30 or Counting Macros, do what sets your soul on fire. The best thing we can do for each other is meet them where they are and cheer them the FREAK on. Instead of criticizing their life choices, we should lift them up and say, “YOU GO GIRL. I AM CHEERING YOU ON,” instead of saying “Oh that’s stupid, just eat fruits and veggies and you will be fine.” Okay Brenda, but that don’t work for me, so BYE!

What’s Next???

This space has allowed me to be vulnerable and share some really hard parts of my life and I am thankful for your support. Being able to share and get my thoughts with this community is a way I find healing. Just as I have in the past, I will keep you posted with my journey and all the tips and tricks I find along the way.

My blog will still have all things Whole30, Keto, Paleo and Gluten Free. In addition, I will be adding more flexible and laid back recipes for the everyday healthy life. I see this as an expansion of recipe creation. There are so many more possibilities and it has put a new and improved spark under my booty.

Be sure to save this post to your Pinterest Board:

Why I Stopped Restricting & Started Flexible Eating

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Lightbulb by Maxim Kulikov from the Noun Project/ Flatware by Hasan from the Noun Project/Plant by tezar tantular,the Noun Project /creative idea by ProSymbols from the Noun Project

35 thoughts on "Flexible Eating: Why I Stopped Restricting Food"

  1. Angela says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! This post was exactly what I needed to hear!

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      You are welcome, welcome and welcome:-) So thrilled to help

  2. Jenna says:

    Happy you found your food freedom! Your story is so similar to mine. 💕 Looking forward to flexible and laid back recipes! 😋

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      Happy to help Jenna……..

  3. Lyndi Johnson says:

    Your girls are beautiful, funny, and smart just like their parents! I know you are doing an amazing job from seeing it firsthand and while I don’t know and understand every detail about your struggles with food, I DO know you are setting a great example and creating a strong foundation of health for those babies. Good for you for realizing your struggles and stepping up to the plate for yourself and your family. Always proud of you ❤️

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      You’re so precious Lyndi…..this comments means so much. Thank you for your kind words of support:-)

  4. Brittney says:

    Love this!!! You are such an inspiration to me!

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      AWWWWW you are too kind Brittney…..so glad I can help

  5. Jamie says:

    Thank you for this ❤️

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      Most welcome Jamie

  6. Morgan says:

    I love your heart and thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us. Looking forward to more recipes!

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      You’re too kind Morgan……thank you for the kind words of support. EMJOY

  7. Elissa Zambrano says:

    I love you even more now! Good for you! This makes perfect sense. I admire those who can do KETO or Whole 30 but I just can’t so it makes me feel less than. But now, yay, you confirmed that I’m not failing and you are ever learning and not done with yourself. You are allowing yourself to grow and teach us a new way from a different perspective. Thank you for all you put into your work. It really shows. Much love

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      Awwwwwwwwwwwwww thank you Elissa. Your kind words mean so much

  8. Rachel says:

    Flexible eating and macro tracking are awesome!! Been doing it for 1.5 years!! Can’t wait for your recipes to have the macro information at the bottom!!!

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      🙂

  9. Valerie Cowan says:

    Loved this post. I’m so interested in macro counting, but it seems so difficult! Do you have any resources for planning meals and recipes that are tailored to specific macro needs?

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      I am planning to share the whole process with you guys. I love Chris and Heidi Powell. I will also be doing other post explaining more about macros and things I eat in a day.

      1. Valerie Cowan says:

        Super! I look forward to it. By the way, I found you from listening to Jamie Ivey’s podcast. I so enjoyed your conversation with her!

        1. Ashley McCrary says:

          Awwww Thanks Valerie. We had a blast making that podcast. Thank you for your kind words

  10. Dee says:

    Love this!!

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      🙂

  11. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s a good reminder for any of us who have had disordered eating in the past to take stock of what we are doing now. Is this “healthy” way of eating actually healthy for me right now? Am I using my old patterns on this way of eating? Is this sustainable for my life?

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      Thank you Emily for the kind words of support

  12. Tracie says:

    I love this post! Thank you for being so open and sharing your journey. Our bodies are all different and we need to learn what works for each one of us. We should be constantly learning and growing. Just because one way works for one person doesn’t mean it works for another. I love that you encourage us to be there cheering each other on. As we should be!
    Thank you for all that you do!

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      Thank you so much Tracie. I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

  13. Joi says:

    This was so helpful!! I had just started to think about doing this and bam!! … it was the post that day! So appreciate the post!

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      You’re so welcome Joi

  14. Pam Grace says:

    Great read! Healthy relationships with food are so difficult. Have really enjoyed following your evolution with food the past few years. It just shows there are so many options and what works today may not be the best for your life a year from now. Thanks for always being so candid.

  15. Stephanie says:

    I love this post! I had my macros done by a coach a little over a year ago. I have been SO intimidated by the food scale that I never started 😬😬 I struggle, like you, with good foods and bad foods and just the mind numbing thoughts after eating too many “bad” foods…the guilt, the planning of not eating or eating only salads for a week, no wine etc….then I binge again. I’ve lost and gained the same 40-50 pounds so many times, the last time was 3 years ago and I swore I’d keep it off this time. It’s back and I’m even heavier now! I’ll be 50 in September and I really wanted to be in my best shape ever by then, I don’t think that’ll happen but I’m going to start today, you’ve inspired me to get back to my macros and master that scale! Any tips or sites to go to that will help explain the weighing, when what etc? I love your site and your honesty, thanks for all you do!!

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      I will try to get a blog post up with resources and tips. Good luck! You got this.

  16. Reggie says:

    Thank you for sharing your struggles, I myself have struggled with food over the years and it is very difficult to get to a place where you are comfortable, I too have gone back and forth with eating something like the cookie and then eating more because I felt like I messed up and then not eating for a day or two. You have been an inspiration and I am grateful to you. Can’t wait to read more and I wish you all the best.

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      We certainly all struggle don’t we Reggie? It’s so nice to come together as a community to support one another. It’s so refreshing of you to share your thoughts and kind words. Have a blessed weekend!!!

  17. Kelsey Edrich says:

    I love this!!! I have been really struggling lately with my weight and what I should do. This made me feel better and that I can find something that works for me . I truly appreciate you and you are such inspiration and someone I look up to so much. Just wanted you to know.

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      You are seriously SO NICE. Thank you for this sweet comment. It made my day


 

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About Me

Welcome to Healthy Little Peach. I’m Mac, the lady behind the recipes. I believe in living a healthy lifestyle that consists of a mix of healthy whole foods, and full-fat comfort meals. Life is too short not to enjoy good food while maintaining a healthy body and mind. Here you will find gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto, and even full-fat comfort recipes. Let’s have fun in the kitchen together!

About Me

Welcome to Healthy Little Peach. I’m Mac, the lady behind the recipes. I believe in living a healthy lifestyle that consists of a mix of healthy whole foods, and full-fat comfort meals. Life is too short not to enjoy good food while maintaining a healthy body and mind. Here you will find gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto, and even full-fat comfort recipes. Let’s have fun in the kitchen together!

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Follow @healthylittlepeach for more balanced recipes! 

These easy Apple Pie Crescent Rolls are a party favorite! Flaky crescent rolls stuffed with cream cheese & apple pie filling, a yummy Air Fryer or Oven-baked treat. 

And remember, a balanced lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle. All foods can be enjoyed in moderation👍🏼. It’s taken me a long time to realize that healthy is so much more than eating salads. It’s about living a sustainable lifestyle and including favorite foods such as this recipe. 

✨Grab the full recipe in my profile or at https://healthylittlepeach.com/mini-apple-pie-crescent-rolls/

#easyrecipes #partyfood #fallfood #fallrecipes #airfryer #airfryerrecipes #applepie #crescentrolls #quickdessert #quickrecipes #simplerecipes #4ingredients #apple #applerecipes
👇🏼My 2 favorite healthy swaps for oil when baking, applesauce and Greek yogurt. Both options will save you a ton of calories and fat and give you the same results as oil. 

These swaps are for baked goods such as cakes, cupcakes, sweet breads, and muffins. 

🍎APPLESAUCE SWAP: When substituting applesauce for oil in baked goods, the ratio is 1:1. 

Example: If the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of oil, use 1/4 cup of applesauce or 1/2 cup oil use 1/2 cup applesauce. It’s a equal swap. 

🍎For every 1/2 cup of oil replaced with applesauce, you will save over 900 calories and 110 grams of fat. It will also make your cakes and baked goods super moist. 

✨GREEK YOGURT SWAP: For everyone 1 cup of oil sub 3/4 cup Greek or plain yogurt. 

Example: If you are using 1/2 cup oil, use 1/4 cup Greek yogurt. For 1/2 cup of oil there is over 900 calories. For 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt there is only 38 calories. 

Greek yogurt adds more protein and cuts fat by 100%

#bakingrecipes #bakingtips #bakingtipsandtricks #cookinghacks #cookinghealthy #cookinghack #hacks #tipsandtricks #healthyfood #healthyfoodie #bakedgoods #baking #bakingtime
#ad Jump into fall with this delicious and easy Kielbasa and Cabbage Pierogy Skillet featuring @mrstspierogies. There is nothing like a cozy and comforting family meal to
help kick off cool weather season.
 
Ready to fall into the season with us? In honor of #NationalPierogyDay, Mrs. T’s Pierogies is releasing a limited edition flavor of Pumpkin Spice Pierogies! (um–YUM!) Head over to their Instagram, @mrstspierogies for a chance to win a box (while supplies last!) Don’t miss out– there’s only 70 boxes being released in honor of the brands 70th anniversary (not sold in stores!)
 
Pierogy and Sausage Cabbage Skillet
1 package Mrs. T’s Classic Cheddar Pierogies
1 package beef kielbasa or beef sausage of choice
1 medium head of cabbage, shredded
1 onion - sliced
salt and pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil or butter, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
 
Step 1: Add 1 tablespoon butter to a skillet and add in the garlic and allow to cook for 20
seconds. Next, add in the sausage and sauté until it’s browned on both sides. Remove
and set aside. In the same skillet (do not wipe it out), add in the shredded cabbage and
onions. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender. 
 
Step 2: Brown the pierogies in a no-stick pan with the butter. Brown on both sides for
about 6- 8 minutes per side. 
 
Step 3: Place the pierogies and cooked kielbasa in with the cabbage.
 
Step 4: Enjoy!
Follow @healthylittlepeach for more recipes. 

✨This versatile Air Fryer Salmon is prepped and cooked in just 15 minutes with the most delicious honey garlic sauce! Your air fryer will do all the work for you, just whip up your favorite easy sides, and enjoy!

✨I also get questions about why I add foil. I do that so it catches the juice. I love drizzling any extra on the cooked salmon. So good!

✨Grab the full recipe in my profile or at https://healthylittlepeach.com/air-fryer-honey-garlic-salmon/

#quickrecipes #quickrecipe #airfryer #airfryerrecipes #salmon #salmonrecipe #healthyrecipes #healthy #healthyfood #simplerecipes
Full recipe👇🏼Follow @healthylittlepeach for more yummy recipes. 

Anytime I go to the Hibachi grill, the Clear Onion Soup is my favorite part of the meal.

This brothy soup is great for sipping when you are sick or even served with a side salad or sandwich. It includes super simple ingredients and packs a ton of flavor. 

✨Japanese-Inspired Clear Onion Soup✨

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp ground ginger
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth (optional, but adds so much flavor) You can sub vegetable broth for both chicken and beef
salt/pepper
Optional: sriracha and coconut aminos
Mushrooms and green onions for serving

✨Instructions✨
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onions and garlic with 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil. 
2. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and ginger. Saute together until tender. 
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add in the chicken and beef broth. 
4. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Strain the veggies from the broth. Don’t throw them away, you can pop them in the fridge and use them for another meal or recipe. 
6. Ladle the soup into a bowl and add a handful of green onions and thinly sliced mushrooms
7. For additional flavor you can also add a splash of soy sauce and sriracha to taste.

#souprecipe #souprecipes #healthyfood #healthyrecipes #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #fallrecipes #fallrecipe #easyrecipes #simplerecipes #foodblogger #foodphotography #foodphotographer #foodvideo #onionsoup
Follow @healthylittlepeach for more recipes!

Is it truly a party without Pigs In A Blanket? These little classic poppers will be a real crowd pleaser, even for the kids. The best part is the homemade cheese sauce for dipping. 

✨Grab the full recipe in my profile or at 
https://healthylittlepeach.com/seasoned-pigs-in-a-blanket/

#gameday #gamedayfood #appetizers #easyrecipes #kidapproved #kidapprovedfood #foodie #foodblogger #pigsinablanket #everythingbutthebagel #simplerecipes #foodphotography
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