Have you tried to live a more health-conscious lifestyle but found yourself failing miserably after starting a new diet? We’ve been there. You aren’t alone. Studies show that almost 65% of people, 2 out of 3 people, who start dieting eventually quit and become regressive eaters due to excessive control or hyper fixation over their food choices for an extended duration.
How to decide what to eat? How to make the right eating choices? How do you achieve your health goals without depriving yourself of your favorite foods? The answer to all these concerns is referred to as “food freedom.”
Read on to learn all about it as the simplest method to achieve your health goals!
What Does the Term Food Freedom Mean?
As the term suggests, food freedom is the “freedom” to eat anything and everything you desire—within reasonable constraints. When
people start to suppress their dietary urges, they develop uncomfortable or unhealthy long-term habits. This lingering guilt hovers over people’s heads like a cloud whenever they enter a fast food joint or take another sip of wine. It results in increasing mental anxiety and stress.
Thus, setting your mind free from feelings of guilt when you pick up that one extra slice of pizza is essential to longevity. Having said that, food freedom doesn’t mean that people should not take into consideration the nutritional quality of food, its importance, and its impact on bodily functions.
We need to understand that eating in the right proportions and making better eating choices is essential, but at the same time, managing a healthy and peaceful mental space is equally important.
How to Create Balance?
Creating balance starts with education. It is the core tenet behind achieving your health goals and leading a healthy life—knowledge is power, and you need to know what and how your body responds to and processes certain foods. Sometimes, it’s intuitive. You know yourself and your body better than anyone else ever could.
Learn the nutritional facts about what you’re ingesting and fueling your body with. Then, apply that knowledge to creating balanced meals—vegans can learn how to create plant-based protein-rich meals, while omnivores can learn how to reduce red meat intake and prioritize fish and veggies.
You can indulge in that second slice of pizza guilt-free but don’t make it a daily habit.
Create a habit of mindful eating. Mindful eating is being consciously aware of what you are doing. It includes the following four parameters:
- Paying attention to yourself—are you hungry or full? How energetic are you? Do you feel stressed?
- Avoid multitasking while eating—be physically and mentally present in the moment while eating. Avoid watching television or scrolling on your phone. Chew food slowly.
- Enjoy the food—take time to eat and feel its taste, smell, and texture. Digestion begins in the mouth.
- Do not judge yourself. Most importantly, do not guilt trip. If you decide to have something, do not worry about the past or the future implications of your dietary choice at that moment, work on making permanent, lasting changes long-term.
Fears Associated with “Dieting”
Dieting is a scary term to most people. This is because, for most people, it is associated with the idea of eating less and living on soups and salads to lose weight. Forget indulging in your favorite foods—dieting is about this idea of sacrifice.
However, this perception is entirely wrong.
There are hundreds of healthy food options. Living in a rich culture, with readily available plant foods means we now have the ability, more than ever before, to make better dietary choices without depriving ourselves. Telling yourself not to eat certain types of food to lose weight, for instance, does the opposite of its intended purpose.
When you think to “not” eat something, you are, in reality, constantly thinking about eating it and then restricting yourself, which leads to stress building and further increases the desire for the “forbidden” food.
The term “diet” includes everything you eat in the entire day. Hence, dieting doesn’t mean stopping altogether, but being more mindful of what you eat. What you need is a properly balanced diet to achieve your health goals and live a healthy life.
Until now, we have talked about the importance of food freedom and how indulging in your cravings is not a sin. However, we also need to understand that while you should give in to cravings occasionally, it is always crucial to be mindful of what you eat.
Importance of Food Freedom
Practicing food freedom is good for both physical and mental health.
First, it helps you to better understand the body in relation to what you eat. Secondly, practicing food freedom helps eliminate feelings of guilt and stress from following strict food rules, and obsessive dieting. You actually enjoy your favorite food rather than just eating and feeling guilty.
Tips to Incorporate Food Freedom into Your Dietary Habits
- Don’t restrict yourself from eating your favorite snack foods every once in a while—but note that it should only be every once in a while. Healthy eating should be the basis of your daily routine.
- Ensure that you consume enough protein according to your physique and muscle-building goals. (Minimum 1g protein per kg of body weight).
- Optimum water intake is the simplest thing you can do to live a healthy life.
(1 liter water every day for every 20 kgs body weight, up to 5 liters a day maximum).
- Consume freshly cooked meals and avoid ready-to-eat or prepackaged food. Shop produce.
- Consume your meals regularly throughout the day in smaller portions but at regular intervals.
- Eat when you feel physically hungry.
- Eat slowly! It takes the vagus nerve 20 minutes to transmit the signal of fullness to the brain.
Food freedom is the key to achieving health goals without compromising on favorite foods and stressing over every bite we take. It is the freedom to eat anything and everything while being mindful of portion sizes, nutritional requirements, and mindful eating habits.
Food freedom eliminates the guilt and stress associated with dieting, helps maintain mental peace and physical health, and can increase feelings of dietary confidence.
Education is the key to creating a balance between indulging in cravings and taking care of our health. Remember, food freedom is all about flexibility and accepting that every day cannot be the same. It allows variety and recognizes basic human traits like hunger, cravings, and fullness. So, go out there, and allow yourself some freedom!