Specific eating plans can affect you mentally
You can feel deprived, obsessive and controlling about food perfection, or self-righteous about your way of eating, even if you have experienced tremendous improvements in your health.
This can even create disordered eating – such as obsessing on perfection, or binging. For example, there is an eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa, which means to have an obsession with healthy foods. We have to be careful that we don’t fall into negative mental traps about food and eating.
It’s not healthy or fun to be rigid about food
We humans have a long history of dining socially, because sharing food brings together families, friends, and communities. Food is meant to be comforting. It’s natural to get pleasure from eating. We are biologically wired to desire highly satisfying foods, such as rich fats, sweet carbohydrates, and savory umami (meaty taste) foods. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, it’s natural and healthy.
So how do you bridge the gap between your personal diet for health, having pleasure, and a social life that includes food as part of it?
I’m here to tell you that your healthy, anti-inflammatory diet does not have to be a rigid, self-deprecating, obsessive, strict way of life. Your life can contain food pleasure. It can include eating with family, friends, and community. It can contain treats and foods that feel decadent and highly satiating.
In fact, if you don’t find a way to bridge this gap, you are more likely to feel restricted and then want to binge. No one likes being in cycles like that. In this post I share 10 tips for eating healthily with pleasure. I hope that you will join in with suggestions in the comments, so that we all can learn from each other how to have pleasure and fun with food.
10 Tips for Eating Well with Pleasure
Stop thinking that you’re on a diet.
Think of your way of eating as exactly that: a way of eating. You are choosing foods that your body loves and thrives on. You are eating your best foods. Congratulate yourself that you’ve even figured out what these are! Most people don’t get that far.
Make sure that you’re eating enough calories.
Eating too few calories can turn your metabolism into a famine state, in which your body feels starved and therefore will hold on to every morsel of energy you consume. Your metabolism slows way down. It’s not a way to lose weight, if that’s your intention. It creates hunger, deprivation, cravings, and tendencies to binge. If you’re not sure how many calories you should eat as a minimum, you can use this calculator, or get help from a professional.
Include treats in your diet.
What tastes do you find satiating? Salty? Sweet? Savory? Make sure to eat foods with these tastes. An anti-inflammatory, ancestral, Paleo approach includes all of these tastes. Craving salty carbs? Have sweet potato fries with salt. Craving fats? Have something with full fat coconut milk, bacon or butter. Craving chocolate? Have a square of dark chocolate. Craving something bready? Make a Paleo dessert with almond meal or coconut flour, and honey for a sweetener. The treat recipes are expanding like wildfire on websites and Pinterest. Everyone loves treats.
Convert your family to your way of eating.
You’ll be surprised how often people actually love pasta made from spaghetti squash, chopped sweet potatoes roasted with currants and pecans, cauliflower fried rice, and more. Start seducing your family with delicious recipes so that you eat together. Encourage them to convert to your way of eating, even 80%, for two weeks, and evaluate how they feel. If you are the family cook, you can choose what to make.
Don’t keep crappy inflammatory food in your house.
If you have to make significant efforts to obtain this type of food, chances are much greater that you simply won’t eat it. Why keep tempting food in your house that will only serve to derail your healthy eating and sane frame of mind regarding food?
Turn your friends, coworkers and community on to good Paleo food.
Invite them over for a meal or snack. Bring some food to a work potluck for them to taste. Suggest that a social gathering be Paleo so that folks who don’t eat that way can try it out. Always bring food to social gatherings, to contribute to the spread. Bring things that you love so you can always have something that you love. There’s a difference between preaching and proselytizing about Paleo eating, and simply sharing it.
Figure out which restaurants work for you.
This can include ones that have menu items matching your anti-inflammatory approach, or those who are willing to prepare special orders. Suggest to meet your friends at those restaurants.
Plan in advance.
If you think you’re going to feel deprived at a social event, plan what yummy food you are going to bring, or order. Don’t bring your everyday food, bring something extra appealing on your plan. If there’s going to be something at a gathering that you know is inflammatory and just wrong for you, and you think you’ll feel deprived resisting it, then bring your own special treat that fulfills similar tastes, as a substitution.
Only choose foods and recipes that you like and make you happy.
Eat without doing something else at the same time, so you can be present and mindful. This allows you to enjoy and appreciate your food, to savor each bite.
Allow exceptions for special occasions.
Be conscious and intentional about your exceptions. Decide in advance that you’re going to have a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a gluten-free dessert. Make it special. Savor and enjoy.
I know that readers have dozens more tips on how to socialize and experience pleasure while staying true to their best foods.