There was a time back in the day when I used to eat foods that I didn’t like in attempts to “control my appetite.”
For example, quinoa.
There is something about quinoa. I don’t know what it is…. the taste and texture just doesn’t sit well with me.
For years I used to cook up bowls of quinoa for dinner, ultimately only nibbling on it and throwing most of it away, rather than allowing myself to consume the carbohydrates that I truly enjoyed– pasta, rice, baked potatoes, french fries, and foods of the like.
That, my friends, is the definition of an unhealthy relationship with food.
Why in the world would I settle for nibbling on a few pieces bites of bland, unsatisfying quinoa, when instead I could add rice, pasta, or potatoes to my meals, foods that I truly enjoyed?
My eating disorder told me to.
My eating disorder told me that consuming quinoa would help me with “portion control”. It reasoned that if I didn’t like a food as much, I would be less likely to “overdo it” with that food.
Boy was my eating disorder wrong….I wasn’t controlling myself…..IT was controlling me.
What happened instead, was that I ended up C R A V I N G the things I didn’t allow myself to have, and was constantly preoccupied with food because I was depriving myself both P H Y S I C A L L Y and P S Y C H O L O G I C A L L Y.
This preoccupation with food lead to a cycle of binge eating / guilt + shame / purging / restriction / more binge eating– and eventually, the development of a full-blown eating disorder.
When I began treatment, all of the so-called “control” that I had worked so hard for was stripped away from me.
At the time it felt like my world was ending.
But now, looking back, it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
It’s because of recovery that I am able to choose foods that satisfy both my physical and psychological needs.
I no longer “eat” quinoa.
I’ve learned how to nourish my body consistently and adequately throughout the day.
I have become flexible with food.
I no longer look up menus before I go to restaurants to analyze calorie content of each entree item.
I no longer feel the need to restrict certain foods or food groups, or eat foods that I don’t like because they are labeled as “healthy”.
I eat a wide variety of foods, from fruits and pizza to veggies and chips.
I honor my food preferences.
I am the healthiest and happiest I have been in years, and I am truly grateful for that.
Healthy eating should always taste good.
I’m being 100% serious–
You shouldn’t waste your time preparing + consuming food that doesn’t taste good to you.
If you don’t like it, don’t eat it.
But find something else to eat in place of it.
That being said….there’s alway a few exceptions to the rule:
–If you’re currently in eating disorder recovery and have several food aversions / food rules, there is a high possibility that your true food preferences have been distorted by diet culture and hijacked by your eating disorder. If that’s the case, you do need to eat foods that you may not be fond of at the present time in order to regain a new sense of what “normal” nutrition really looks like. Sometimes your appetite won’t be great and “nothing” will sound good. This is normal. However, it won’t go away until you nourish your body consistently. Once you reach this point, it will be easier to distinguish true food preferences vs food rules.
–I acknowledge the privilege in being able to prepare and eat the foods you like. Sometimes it isn’t realistic. If you must decide between eating something that will nourish your body, and eating nothing at all, do the former.
Bottom Line: Restricting food physically and/or psychologically will always lead to deprivation. Deprivation usually leads to disordered eating. Unchecked disordered eating can transition into a full-blown eating disorder.
Honor your food preferences. Don’t fall into that trap.