So there is this new thing on a lot of food labels now that shows you how long you would need to exercise for if you ate a serving of certain foods. Now at first you might think wow, that’s great, it makes me really think hard if what I am buying or eating is worth the effort. This is exactly what the companies are thinking as well, but I urge you to think again.
Since when is exercise a punishment? I see people of every shape and size on a daily basis and with that comes varying abilities in movement. Most people wish they could squat lower or live their day to day lives without pain. I know people who deal with injury or illness who would give anything to be able to hit the gym or run around and play with their kids or grandkids. So why has it become ok with us to think of movement as something we have to suffer through?
Our subconscious is a very powerful tool and we tend to live by the things we tell ourselves most often, so if we tell ourselves that exercise is a punishment how long before we dread the thought of getting off the couch at all? How much better do you think you would feel about your life if you woke up in the morning grateful to be able to stand up and move around, to be able to pick your kids up and play with them, or carry your groceries into the house in only one trip? Words and thoughts carry great consequence.
Worse than that, how do you think it affects your subconscious to feel the need to punish yourself based on the food choices you make? Wouldn’t it be better to fix the need to binge on junk food by treating the nutrient deficiencies that cause the cravings in the first place? When I work with clients we never remove foods in the beginning, instead we add foods that their diet is lacking in. After all isn’t it better to eat foods that make you feel better, perform better, and look better instead of omitting food because the make you tired, bloated and fat?
Our digestive system is incredibly smart; in fact it virtually has its own brain. That brain controls your gut microbes, which control cravings and how certain foods affect your body. This is why new foods can make people feel sick, gassy and bloated; your gut microbes are specific to the foods you eat on a daily basis. It takes time to change these microbes as you change over to a healthier diet but eventually your digestive system changes to meet these new requirements and you no longer want those “bad” foods because they won’t make you feel good anymore.
Lastly, we need to stop bullying people for choosing to eat foods that make them feel better, look better, and perform better. I cannot believe how often people tell me that they don’t feel comfortable ordering healthy food when they go out with friends because their friends mock them for it, or when a client trying to put on muscle gets bullied in the lunch room because their coworkers think they eat too much. To me this is the equivalent of telling an alcoholic that they shouldn’t omit alcohol all together but just drink less.
I do not have an eating disorder because I choose not to eat foods that make me feel bad and have no nutritional value to me and neither does that friend who chooses salad or chicken breast instead of pizza or fries at lunch.
So there’s my rant for the day. I urge you to take a hard look at your relationship with diet and exercise. If you find that you need to punish yourself with exercise for the food choices you make it might be time to rethink the way you talk to yourself. Pay attention to how what you eat makes you feel and feel privileged to be able to exercise, and please, instead of mocking someone for the way they eat use them as a tool for how to make better choices in your own life.