It seems to be the general consensus in healthy circles that if you aspire to a healthier diet, "Consistency is the key". If you're not planning our your meals every week, or tracking your calorie intake, or eating the most nutrient-dense foods every day, or making it to the gym your planned 3 to 5 days a week, you are "off track". Puh-lease! Going "off track" or "falling off the wagon" seems to instil a misplaced sense of guilt into the people I know who are genuinely making a commitment to eat healthier. I'll be the first to say that I have weeks or months where I could really care less about meal planning for the week and settle myself down with some tasty-though-kind-of-nutrient-devoid processed Daiya Mac n' Cheese and veggie dogs. And guess what? I don't feel any remorse at tearing open those crafty little packages sometimes. Though, it wasn't always this way.
Throughout my middle school and high school years I dealt with body image concerns and a fixation on making up for unhealthy typical teenaged choices by tracking calories, restricting what I ate, feeling guilty about Christmas dinner before the Christmas season even arrived, and even thinking about all the ways I could burn extra calories even while sitting down. Sheesh. This on-again-off-again relationship with food eventually had me arrive at the conclusion that due to monthly hormonal shifts, special events, natural emotional attachments to foods, the traditional association of certain environments and events with some non-nutritious foods, and so on, we will always be given opportunities to make choices that nourish different parts of the human being. Normal eating is just that - being comfortable making choices toward either direction, with the full knowledge of what happens to the body with either choice. And thus, I refused to adapt the mindset every time something less-than healthy was in arm's reach that this would be the LAST unhealthy food I would have for a long while or ever. Instead I taught myself to run through one of these two game plans: A) "Alright, won't be the last time I get the opportunity to have this, so maybe next time, because today I want to give my body the nourishment it deserves", or B) "I know how absent of good nutrition this is and that is OK since it is more a food for my mental health than it is for my cellular health, and heck, it looks delicious so LET'S EAT!". Both of these scenarios can happen multiple times in a day or week, so let's chill out a bit!
Press on forward! Yesterday's guilt has no place in your mind today. It ain't worth it to dwell on the meal you had while out with family or the extra cupcake devoured at your friend's wedding. You're on the wagon now. You're ALIVE, breathing, and right where you're meant to be. Give your body the tools it needs to heal itself, or have the best chance of doing so. Choose plant-based foods as often as you can. And then, sometimes just give your body the foods it desires to enjoy the moment fully. Screw moderation - give me the most decadent thing on the menu. And other times, let me nourish my body because each cell totally deserves to be loved.
Words of wisdom that I have been telling my clients daily, and I quote myself:
Not doing the same thing every single day of your life is NOT an indication of failure.
Be adventurous! Be creative! And most of all, have hope for a beautiful future for yourself, your health, and your loved ones. One that is not plagued by disappointment, but instead draws energy and hope from the fact that every wilderness you encounter is simply there to produce an increase in faith, resolve, and inner strength.
Lotsa love, cause love is all you need.