Let's talk about food! Many people ask for guidance about what they "should" be eating, and my mantra is "Delay, Don't Deny," as you know. That being said, is there a "best" way for all of us to eat? That is the question that haunts many people.
If you ever want to have a HUGE argument, start talking to people about what we "should" all be eating. The Keto people have one view, and the vegans another. Should humans eat dairy? Grains? Are carbs, in fact, Satan? When did food become so complicated?
On the other side of the coin, I've also found that people can get really mad when we DON'T tell others how they should eat. Yes, it's true. Some people desperately want us to impose our food beliefs on others, whatever they are, and people have actually left my Facebook support groups because we don't make people eat "clean enough" for them, or some-such nonsense. (Note: my Facebook groups are not tied to any style of eating, and all types of eaters are welcome. But we aren't going to tell you how to eat, and we don't want you to tell US how to eat, either, thankyouverymuch.)
So? Does food quality matter, or doesn't it?
Well, OF COURSE QUALITY MATTERS. I want to add "DUH" after that, but it might be rude, so I won't. You're welcome.
So--if we agree that quality matters, why don't we tell everyone exactly how they should be eating from day one?
There really is a method to my madness. And here it is:
I believe it is empowering to make your own food choices.
I think it's a HUGE part of the process to learn how your body responds to food, in fact. We tell you: eat whatever YOU want. And we mean it.
That being said, It can be easy to misinterpret "you can eat whatever you want" and think it means that "food quality doesn't matter and you should eat junk food."
Newsflash: fast food is not going to be ideal for anyone, health-wise. But--don't we all know that, anyway?
The power of intermittent fasting is that over time, it guides us to make healthier choices...NATURALLY. I have seen it happen over and over. People realize they don't enjoy the foods they used to eat. They start craving healthier foods and low quality foods lose their appeal. We call it becoming a food snob. Now, if you tried to make me eat fast food for dinner, I would get mad at you. I don't want to waste my eating window on fast food! I didn't start out that way, and I ate a LOT of fast food as I lost weight, but now I just don't like it anymore. Nobody made me give up fast food. It happened naturally, over time.
Now think about this. If I told you what you should be eating, it would be just another diet, now wouldn't it? However, if you naturally learn what foods make YOU feel best, who is in charge?
YOU. You are in charge. Not me. Not some random stranger on the internet who doesn't know the first thing about you. YOU are the boss of yourself. #Powerful
How does this look for me? Over time, my body has let me know that I feel best when I eat high quality foods. Lots of veggies, plenty of carbs, high quality fat, whole grains, and not much meat. This is pretty much the exact opposite of how I used to eat when I was obese. Did someone tell me to eat this way? Am I doing it to be "good"? Nope. I like to feel good, so I eat what helps me feel good. It's not difficult to know how foods make me feel, since I'm fasting for the majority of the day. I can quickly tell if a food doesn't work well for my body.
Here's an example of that from my real life. Last week, we went to a restaurant that my son chose. I had a delicious patty melt and fries, and I enjoyed eating it...at the time. It wasn't technically fast food, but it was not the type of food I usually eat now. My stomach started to hurt soon after I ate. The next morning, my stomach was still upset. I got definite signals that my body didn't like that food, and in fact "rejected" that food completely, if you know what I mean. I'll remember that feeling. The next day, I ate a huge plate of veggies with my meal--not to atone for my patty melt sins, but because that's what I was craving.
Live your life. Eat food that is delicious and makes you feel good. Trust yourself to figure that out, over time. And most importantly: realize that your plate doesn't have to look like my plate, or anyone else's plate, for that matter. Sometimes you'll eat the patty melt, and one day you may realize you no longer want to eat it after all.
You are in charge.
Gin Stephens lives in Augusta, Georgia, where she has been following an intermittent fasting lifestyle since 2014. In addition to writing the book Delay, Don't Deny, Gin is co-host of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, along with fellow intermittent faster and author, Melanie Avalon. Check out www.ifpodcast.com or search for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast on iTunes.