Queen of tidy Marie Kondo and her “tidying up” method has been an inspirational game-changer for so many people showing how you can create a world in which everything around you sparks joy.
But what if this was applied to food?
What if you chose what, when, and how much you ate based on feelings of joy instead of a diet, plan, or food rules and ‘should’s?’
Would foods like cookies, fries, and pizza spark joy? Or foods like salad, rice and veggies, and smoothies? Or a balance?
When we choose what, when, and how much we eat based on a diet, plan, food rules, or should’s, we miss the signals and cues our body is trying to give us for what it wants and needs to keep us at our best. We throw off our body’s natural balance over time.
Because of this, we eventually experience struggles with food like always being on track or off track, restricting and bingeing, constantly thinking about food, insatiable hunger, cravings and emotional eating.
When those things happen, it’s common to blame ourselves and the food, thinking that we just need to try harder to control it. But it doesn’t work because it’s not addressing the real root cause of what’s driving the actions we take around food to begin with.
Choosing what, when and how much to eat based on tuning in and listening to what our body is asking for, what would feel good and spark joy for us. Everything changes, becomes easier.
Think about your own eating habits, do they spark joy? Or do they spark stress?
A big reason people try to control their eating habits is that they think that’s how they will get a body that will make them happy. I used to think that too!
Diet culture teaches us, especially women, that weight loss = happiness. We’ve been taught a big way to lose weight is to restrict and deprive ourselves of foods that bring us joy – like sugary, carby, and fatty foods, and if we do eat them, that we’ve been bad, we’re failed, and should feel guilty.
This leaves so many women constantly finding themselves feeling super frustrated with results that never seem to stick.
Statistics show 95% of people that try to control their weight with restrictive eating habits gain the weight they lose back within 3 to 5 years, and usually even more weight over time the more they restrict and yo-yo.
Also, seeing a low number on the scale is not a precursor for a happy body image. When I was at my lowest weight, I was the most unhappy, and I know I’m not alone.
I wasted TONS of money on special programs, detoxes, and diet pills, foods, and books.
I wasted TONS of time measuring and calculating, feeling hungry, beating myself up for eating something wrong, eating my sad/unhappy feelings, and obsessing and over-thinking about food and my body.
And despite the low number I saw on the scale, I was still super self-conscious about my body, I still had low self-esteem/confidence, and I was still paranoid about gaining weight.
I missed out on doing fun, social activities to not be tempted by bad foods, and if I did go out, I didn’t enjoy myself or make happy memories due to my inner mean girl chat filling my mind.
My eating habits and relationship with food did NOT spark joy, they sparked misery, anxiety, frustration, and feelings of hopelessness. And my life reflected those feelings too.
My challenge to you:
How much joy and happiness are you sacrificing now as you work toward a body that you think will make you joyful and happy?
Is the sacrifice paying off? Or are you spending more time, energy, and stress on food than you’d like? Maybe you’re ok with how things are, but if you’re not, experiment!
If you hate it, you can always go back to what you’re doing now.
Challenge yourself for 7 days to only choose foods based on tuning into your body and seeing which foods spark joy for you.
Before you eat, ask yourself “what foods would taste good and make me happy?” For example, chicken and veggies would not taste good to me. So I might ask myself what I can do to the chicken and veggies to make them more joyful? Add rice and guacamole? YUM!
After you find something that would taste good, ask yourself “how will I feel after eating that?” For example, pizza might taste delicious but I usually don’t feel good after eating it because of my food sensitivities. So I’d ask myself “Is it worth it?” Sometimes yes! I just want pizza regardless. Sometimes no I’d rather eat something that I’d feel better after eating.
Aim for foods that taste good and feel good!
When you do eat – stay tuned in. Ask yourself after every bite or so if you’re still hungry and is it still bringing you joy. If not – stop eating or choose something else! Focus on getting pleasure and joy from the food you eat.
Go in with an open mind, knowing all foods are created equal, there are no good foods or bad foods, food is just food.
By doing this you’re also optimizing your day in/day out calorie burning capacity, releasing more ‘happy’ hormones, and enhancing your digestion too.
Ultimately this technique will help you find a natural balance between eating for health and joy without forcing it!