Flexible Eating: Why I Stopped Restricting Food
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
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.
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
- 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 (protein, fat, 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.
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!
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:
Love this post: Check out this one below:
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