I have done numerous rounds of Whole 30, numerous mini resets, and it took until recently to actively practice and understand the mindfulness of Food Freedom. Recently, I went on vacation to Savannah with my family. It’s a tradition we have done every Easter and typically means a lot of indulgence; cocktails starting by 5, delicious food, lots of sweets, and a fancy Easter brunch. Cue out of control eating…
This year was different. I was in the process of reading Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig. The pre-Whole 30 me would have chosen a different book and gone all out at every moment I could. This time, I chose differently.
I actively chose to practice Food Freedom this time. A couple times I fell hard. The most memorable learning experience was when I fell face first into some mini Oreo snack packs. As I was eating them, my FF voice was saying, “Why are you doing this? You just at a delicious compliant lunch and these are so small you can’t even taste the frosting.” At 3 mini bags I stopped. I felt disgusting and incredibly disappointed with myself. I actually talked myself through the situation and analyzed what happened.
My take away was: I can’t have Oreos. They are a food without breaks for me and they just aren’t worth it. I was feeling really anxious and didn’t realize it. I ate the Oreos to make myself feel better and rationalized it because the packages were small. I decided I needed to sit and feel gross for a moment, so I could remember how it felt, and then when the opportunity came, I went on a run. After my run and some “kid free me time”, my anxiety was calmed, I felt better, and I reminded myself that this was a learning experience.
I definitely spent a lot of time that week practicing Food Freedom. After the Oreo incident, I felt more in control. I often made better food choices and indulged when it was truly worth it. This is not to say that I didn’t make poor choices, thinking something was worth it when it wasn’t or doing something by sheer habit, but my mindfulness was front and center. I certainly understand that this is a lifelong exercise of practice, analysis and reset if needed, but I also see the light that these choices will become more routine and not as challenging down the road.
During vacation, I ate compliant breakfasts and lunches. My dinners were generally not compliant, but I made them as compliant as possible. I minimized snacking, had some desserts, some but very moderate alcohol and some dairy. My body started aching again, I was sluggish, tired and I had this underlying nagging headache on and off along with bloating and congestion. When I came home, I did a mini-reset. By Day 3, my energy was back up, the body aches were much better although not yet subsided and the headaches are gone.
Often times I hear about a fear to experience Food Freedom and to dip your toe back in the non-compliant pool. Food Freedom is all about contemplating whether or not its worth it to dip your toe in the water, waiting for a bit to see if it is truly worth it, being mindful about what dipping your toe might trigger and then making a choice. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a learning thing. We are conditioned to be slaves to a diet and not actually to be free in our food choices. If your choice doesn’t go as planned, circle back around, reset and make a different choice next time. It’s going through this process time and again that truly will set us free.