Diet culture has conditioned you to think that food is just simply calories and calories are what make you fat or skinny.
Naturally, you are thinking if you limit and restrict your calories, your weight will be directly related to how much you eat.
But there is more to it than that!
Food is in fact fuel for your body.
Calories are a unit of measure for how much energy is in the food. But not all energy (aka all calories) is equal. The quality of calories and nutritional value (nutritional density) will vary based on different foods.
This is why it's so important to have a variety of food in your diet (different food = different energy sources of varying nutritional density).
Feeling overwhelmed? Don't be. Let's break this down into 3 simple reminders to help you adopt a food-is-fuel mindset.
1. Enjoy the foods that love you back.
Food should bring nourishment into your body. When we are filled with discomfort, stomach pains, gas and bloating, or extreme food comas, it might be time to evaluate what you are eating and whether it is serving you how you want it to.
Try asking What gives you energy? What leaves you feeling full and satisfied? Do you enjoy what you are eating?
We all want to feel happy and healthy in our bodies and the food that loves you back will help you get there!
Now does this mean you can never eat fast food/overly indulgent/or pleasurable foods? NO! You absolutely can! It just involves recognizing what works in your body and how you want to feel after eating it.
2. Add more in!
Adopting an addition mindset is my go-to health coaching tip because it gets you thinking from a place of abundance. Instead of thinking what do I need to cut out? What do I need to avoid or limit? Ask what else can I add in?
Adding in more color, more protein, more veggies, and more spices for flavor are all great ways to still enjoy what you are eating and feel like you are getting more out of your meal (instead of less).
3. Worry less about the calories, and focus more on the foods
Now if you have very specific macro counting goals, then this isn't for you. But if you are looking to improve your relationship with food and find freedom around what you eat then try this one on. Don't worry about the calories in the food. You'll find that the more whole foods you buy, the less you actually see any calories listed. Because those are nutrient-dense from the whole food option, those are always a great place to start.
Instead of obsessing over pre-packaged foods or meals out at a restaurant and how many calories they have, think about what food is in them and how it's being incorporated into your whole meal. Because remember, all calories aren't created equal!
For example, instead of grabbing a meal off the skinny section of the menu solely because it's under 500 calories, look at what comes in the meal. Is it enough food? & is it appetizing? Under the main entree section, you might find a baked chicken dish packed with veggies, rice, and avocado salsa. Chances are this is more calories than 500 calories and any of the skinny meals but you are excited to eat it and you are getting sources of protein fat and fiber which fuel the body (which are more nutrient-dense calories so give you more energy).
(**This is not me saying you shouldn't order off the skinny menus. I have found some great meals with enough protein, fat, and fiber off the skinny menus that I have really enjoyed. But they do have a connotation relating to diet culture insinuating that calories are related to being skinny. )