Fall is in full swing for most of us, and there are so many seasonal foods, drinks, and traditions to enjoy throughout the next few months. I LOVE it!
However, years ago, despite my love for the seasons, the months would pass without me allowing myself to enjoy the full experience.
Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, mulled wine, hearty casseroles—they weren’t on my list of approved foods, and I hadn’t developed the skills of enjoying the things I wanted without going overboard.
So, I didn’t enjoy them at all.
I deemed them completely off limits, and once Spring rolled around, I would be filled with regret and sadness that I didn’t give myself permission to live in the moment (or season).
What a damn shame!
Looking back, I meet my former self with compassion and understanding.
After being told for years that so many delicious foods and beverages were poison that would lead to rapid weight gain and/or deteriorating health, it’s no great surprise I acted the way I did.
If this sounds familiar to you today—cut yourself some serious slack!
You’ve been told that everything in your midst is either “good” or “bad”, and you likely haven’t been given the tools to improve your mindset and behaviors around food—the essence of food freedom.
Today, so many of my clients come to me distraught, depleted, and disappointed by their inability to experience life while also keeping their goals and well-being in mind. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s entirely possible with a few strategies.
Pick and choose what you really enjoy
Eating everything you might have the slightest craving for will leave you feeling physically unwell, so focus on what is REALLY good to you. I.e. “Is it worth it?”
Ask yourself if you’re eating or drinking things simply because they’re in front of you (i.e. stale, run-of-the-mill pumpkin bread vs. a bomb-ass homemade variety).
Simply eating whatever is in front of us is typically a byproduct of feeling deprived. In reality, you can choose to eat these foods whenever you want, so you’ll want to raise the bar with your food standards. You deserve the best!
Note that this can take time after years of being disconnected with our bodies and preferences, so we’ll need to constantly reassess our experiences.
How do those foods make you feel?
In response to the first point, you might be asking yourself, “well what if everything in sight IS really delicious and amazing?” Fair question.
We have access to so many enticing things in today’s world, so we need to be mindful of how our choices are going to affect us physically, emotionally, and energetically.
I love pumpkin beer, but it gives me a serious headache, so I stay away from it. Pumpkin spice lattes and other seasonal beverages are delicious, but the sugar doesn’t make me feel great if I drink a whole one.
Sometimes it’s worth it to accept the trade-off of feeling subpar to enjoy something delicious, and that’s a completely valid choice. Just ensure you’re being mindful and aware enough to be the one deciding! Food isn’t in the driver’s seat—you are.
Adjust the Dose As Needed
This is one of the most important tools to be aware of: simple portion control. I understand that this concept seems simple enough, but it’s often difficult to execute for many (and it once seemed utterly impossible for me).
This is often due to the all-or-nothing mentality with food, so the thought of only having a couple bites or sips seems completely unrealistic. This takes PRACTICE.
Practice will lead to wins, where you witness yourself only have a few bites, enjoying yourself, and still feeling physically well.
Wins lead to self-trust, and you’ll develop the confidence to know you’re the one in the driver’s seat.
Put It All Together
Using self-awareness before making decisions regarding food and asking ourselves:
“Do I really want to eat this, or am I simply eating it because it’s in front of me?”
“Does this actually taste as good as I want it to?”
“If I eat this, how will I feel later?”
“If it won’t make me feel great, am I willing to accept the trade-off?”
“Will a few bites satisfy me?”
“How much can I eat/drink of this while still keeping my physical and emotional well-being in mind?” I.e. “What’s my balance point in this situation?”
Enjoying the seasons fully is a testament to how we’re enjoying our lives at large, and this doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing situation like restrictive ways of eating lead us to believe.
Choosing to dedicate ourselves to finding our own version of moderation when it comes to seasonal experiences takes just that: dedication. Especially in the beginning—but it gets MUCH easier over time.
We tend to be so afraid of freedom due to lack of self-trust, but the only way to build this is through practice and dedicated consistency.