We live in a culture where scientists are constantly bashing some foods then recommending others, and where the health gurus praising their miracle diets and body transformations are a dime a dozen. For years, we’ve been taught about the endless rules and about those ‘toxic’ foods that will destroy our metabolisms, but is it really all true? We’ve been made to think that one slip-up in any health plan will de-rail all of our hard work; It makes one taste of dessert feel like a failure, and one weekend getaway without the gym feel like you’re back to square one. But what they don’t tell us is how strong our bodies really are. They have been built to adapt, and they have been built to survive. One dip into a special food will not ruin your health plan, and it will certainly NOT kill you.
Let’s think about what the average human body goes through in a lifetime. Over the span of 80 years, the average woman will get around 200 colds[i], every 10 years she catches a flu[ii], at least twice in her life she will go through years of hormonal shifts (both as a teenager and through menopause), she will likely be pregnant for at least 9 months, and go through childbirth[iii]. One study predicts that if you live to the age of 80, you can even expect 483 cramps, 868 headaches, 2,898 bumps and bruises and 725 backaches (and so much more)[iv]. But somehow, we survive it all. Our bodies can learn, grow, protect and thrive in so many different states. We have the ability to adapt and we have the ability to overcome. Our bodies are not weak; they are more powerful than we believe.
So when it comes to food, our bodies work best with balance. Yes, we may gain weight when we continually overeat and over indulge, but our bodies never lose that strength and power. When you believe in the ability of your body, you arm yourself with flexibility. Instead of believing that you have to starve off all of those special treats you have learned to love, find a healthy balance with them. We don’t need to make eating a stressful thing. Instead, we need to accept that moderation is possible with ANYTHING! Even if you know your favorite treat isn’t great for your body, consider that it’s worse to deprive yourself of it completely. The more you tell yourself you can’t have it, the more you’ll crave it, so that when you finally eat it you’re more likely to over indulge. If you’re eating that sugary goody for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then your body may not be able to keep up. But if you are sitting down and truly enjoying that treat once in a while then it’s OKAY.
Changing your perspective to appreciate the power of our body is the first step in finding success on the journey to a healthier life. But it’s not just food that I’m talking about, its everything! When it comes to antibiotics, prescription drugs, alcohol or anything else you ingest, your body can probably handle it (in moderation). I distinctly remember one of my patients from the clinic who had recently undergone major back surgery. She was in terrible pain; She couldn’t sleep and she couldn’t move. Even though she was in such agony, she refused to take the pain medications prescribed by her doctor. She believed that the medication would be toxic to her body, and I had to reason with her that the pain was more toxic to her life.
We can’t think of our bodies as so delicate that they can’t withstand the occasional round of pain killers or antibiotics. What happens when we end up with a worsening condition because we didn’t take what our doctor recommended? If we refuse to believe that our bodies can handle the medication, we could harm our bodies even more. In order for our bodies to withstand sickness, we need to provide them with every opportunity to heal. Of course each and every person has drastically different health related needs, but I encourage you to view your body as it is; strong and powerful. Make sure your choices aim to protect your body, not shelter it.
This week, I challenge my Rebels to change their mindset. Don’t think that you’re so restricted. The next time you worry about what indulging in a treat will do to your body, remember how powerful your body truly is. Our bodies carry us, our bodies move us, and they empower our actions. The key to maintaining long term health, is balance, but you won’t be able to find a balance if you’re stuck believing that your body will crumble with one wrong bite. Moderation is possible with any of the things that we enjoy. Know that the “all or nothing” mentality is more toxic than any sweet treat will ever be. Don’t paint everything with the same brush, instead, break the rules, and find your own rhythm.
Until next time,
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.