It’s just a handful of cashews, right?
In my final stint of emotional eating, I convinced myself that I could snack throughout the day “when I needed the energy,” as long as the foods were “healthy.” I would grab nuts, fruit, veggies, hummus, or whatever else I considered to be in the “allowed” category.
My justification: “Hey, I’m not eating sugar or gluten or dairy or processed foods like everyone else. I can totally eat this when I need a little boost.”
I am not saying that having a snack when you’re hungry is wrong. I am not saying that eating any of the above-mentioned foods is wrong. What I am saying is that I was lying to myself.
As someone who has struggled with food for my entire life, I was ignoring the real problem: I have a tendency to eat, even when I’m not hungry, to numb, avoid, or “get through” my feelings.
Emotional eating does not have to manifest as a junk food binge. “Healthy” snacking (even without going “overboard”) was serving the same purpose for me. It was “helping” me get through the day. It was preventing me from processing my emotions and moving on. It was keeping me stuck in a place where I felt uncomfortably attached to food.
Even after I fully understood that my issues weren’t so much about the food, I still continued to justify "healthy" snacking as a way to keep my energy up and avoid doing the real work, the work that would help me learn to not only handle my life, but thrive in it. Snacking kept me in denial of my fear to change.
On the flip side, I didn’t want to restrict myself. After years of “successful” dieting, and the mental and emotional shutdown that came along with it, I knew forcing myself to eat a certain way wasn’t the answer either. Even worse, I thought creating any kind of structure for myself was a complete failure in mindful and intuitive eating — the gateway to freedom!
I thought to myself, “I should know when to start and stop eating! I should be able to have a snack when I need it! What’s wrong with me?”
It’s quite a conundrum that so many of us face. I didn’t want to keep overeating because I knew it was holding me back, yet I didn’t want to force myself to eat less or in a certain way because that would be giving up
After what felt like lifetimes of exploring every possible way to achieve food freedom, I finally found my own gateway. I realized that snacking, with nearly zero structure to my eating, even when only consuming whole healthy foods and attempting to eat mindfully, was clouding my judgment.
I am not saying that I never have a snack when I'm hungry. But, I know myself. I accept myself. I continue to more deeply understand what works for me and what doesn't. And I know the freedom, clarity, and creativity that I feel within healthy self-boundaries.
Bonus: Cutting out snacking makes mindful eating way - and I mean way - easier! Now, I can enjoy (most of) my meals with gratitude and grace. I am able to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. I know when I'm hungry and when I'm full (most of the time). It almost feels like magic.
While my snacking revelation definitely helped me break through a big block, it's only one piece to my food freedom puzzle. And we each have our own obstacles to overcome. In order to build a sustainable, healthy, and loving relationship with food, you need to be willing to do the deeper work and find out what's true for you.
If you're ready to get crystal clear about what food freedom means to you and receive the necessary tools and support to create it in your life, I invite you to connect with me here.
Sending you so much love!