Oh hey again, friends!
I know this is probably sooner than you thought you’d hear from me again given that I posted nothing for six months and now have shared TWO posts in TWO days (here’s yesterday’s post if you missed it!)
Huzzah x 2!
So why the sudden post-a-palooza?
Today is July Fourth, a.k.a. America’s Birthday, a national celebration of freedom, bravery, and independence so naturally those subjects have been on my mind this weekend.
Specifically food freedom has been on my mind.
We spent the holiday weekend first by celebrating my mom’s birthday on Sunday and then spent last night celebrating America’s birthday (a day early) at a big lakeside Fourth of July fireworks shindig and grill out.
Birthdays and grill outs – two events that would send me straight to Stress City in the past. Actually, in the past, I would just avoid going to Stress City altogether by coming up with an excuse as to why I had to skip a social invitation, especially one with food. My life was painfully small and lonely because of food fears, misdirected anxiety, overwhelming uncertainty, etc.
But things are very different these days.
For exampe, at last night’s grill out (and most social food outings these days), I happily ate what was served–regular ‘ol hot dogs and burgers on white buns with an assortment of potluck-style sides and appetizers.
I never could or would have done that last Fourth of July, or the one before it. And proooooooooobably not even the one prior to that one. (Turns out, you’re girlfriend here has had a gnarly eating disorder brewing for a longtime even though I truly thought I was just eating “healthy.”)
Last night, as I watched the fireworks, I enjoyed my plain ‘ol hot dog on a plain ‘ol white bun with all the fixings (#america). I didn’t worry about the food or make it a big deal. I focused on relating to others instead of worrying about what might happen to my body or health.
I’m not saying all my food outings and experiences around food are cowabunga, high five moments (please), but the trips to Stress City? Those are much less frequent.
Today, I couldn’t help but reflect on my triumphs with food and how much more free I feel and with that, how much fuller and less complicated my life is now.
I was also thinking about Independence Day and how much less dependent I am on my eating disorder to help me cope with uncertainty, distressing feelings, or to make me feel safe, OK, unique, or good enough.
PLUS this is America, land of the free and home of the brave, right? Well, allow me to toot my horn (TOOT TOOT) because I’d definitely say I’ve been cultivating bravery. It’s taken a lot of bravery to face my food fears, challenge my eating disorder thoughts, and really feel my feelings and emotions. #cryingiscool
So even though I wasn’t planning to blog or post today, I am. I mean, hello, July 4th is a holiday about celebrating freedom, independence, and bravery and one that is typically centered around sharing food with friends and family.
I know we aren’t aiming for perfection these days, but that feels like a pretty perfect reason for another post to me.
What’s food freedom mean to me? I’m glad you asked!
LET FOOD FREEDOM RING
Food freedom is saying yes when my friend asks me if I want to share their cookie after lunch.
Food freedom is going out to dinner with my husband and ordering whatever I want on the menu.
Food freedom is eating gelato after a walk in the park because it sounds good.
Food freedom is letting someone else choose the restaurant without worrying about whether there’s anything I can eat on it.
Food freedom is eating ALL foods without judgment or labeling them good or bad.
Food freedom is eating at In & Out Burger on my last night in California and sharing an order of fries with my husband.
Food freedom is spending my time engaged in meaningful activities with family and community and devoting energy to that instead of obsessing over macros, calories, or nutrition labels 24/7.
Food freedom is eating sandwiches and bread. Any bread.
Food freedom is traveling without a cooler full of “safe foods” or traveling at all…Something I didn’t go anywhere for more than a year because of my eating disorder and all of the rules I had to follow to feel OK, in control, and manage anxiety.
Food freedom is eating Skittles when your nephew offers you some.
Food freedom is letting other people cook without micromanaging the entire process.
Food freedom is trusting my body to use what I give it as fuel no matter what form that fuel is…Ice cream, kale, yogurt, granola, pizza, tuna salad, bagels, Pop Tarts, candy, brown rice, tacos…
Food freedom is eating nut butter without having to always measure it.
Food freedom is eating dinner earlier than usual or later than usual because movies, baseball games, and life don’t have to revolve around a meal time.
Food freedom is eating what’s available even if it’s not exactly what I’d prefer to eat.
Food freedom is understanding that food doesn’t have to be perfect or fancy or gourmet and that sometimes a meal might be disappointing, bland, or boring.
Food freedom is eating pizza at my favorite pizza joint in Chicago.
Food freedom is eating bread from the bread basket.
Food freedom is not using a food scale or My Fitness Pal to perfectly hit my macros.
Food freedom is eating in the car, on a plane, or with the television on and not stressing out about being 100% mindful or eating perfectly.
Food freedom is meeting my husband for tacos in the middle of the afternoon for a day date.
Food freedom is flexibility.
Food freedom is focusing on the bigger picture
Food freedom is being present.
Food freedom is going to a Fourth of July grill out and eating what everyone else is eating (bonus points for loving every bite).
Food freedom is eating a cupcake in the middle of the afternoon because it’s America’s birthday or just because that sounds good.
Food freedom is where it’s at.
Am I saying that I’m 100% free from eating disorder thoughts and unfounded food beliefs? Um, heck no! I still have work to do; there are still foods that trip me up and behaviors and beliefs that I’m trying to go. Hence, why I see a dietitian and therapist multiple times a week. Duh.
What I AM saying is that I’ve got to taste food freedom again for the first time in a long time and DANG y’all, it’s too good to give up.
Living without food rules and restrictions is FREEDOM.
It’s also way EASIER, more ENJOYABLE, and EXPANSIVE.
It’s like going from living in a constantly gloomy, dark, depressing, scary thunderstorm to the Maldives or something. Sunshine, rainbows, and maybe even glitter.
Anyway, some food for thought, right? 😉
I hope you get to celebrate America with friends and family and I invite you to live bravely, fighting your own and society’s beliefs about food, relax your rules, and try to find freedom from limiting food beliefs or negative body thoughts.
I know how I’m celebrating America’s bday…Chicken nuggets, fries, and a rainbow sprinkled cupcake for the win.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS >>>
What does food freedom mean to you? How have you challenged your own or society’s food rules and beliefs? Where do you wish you had more freedom regarding your own eating habits, preferences? How do you cope with gripping and resistance around social eating and food fears?