How to Eat Pancakes Without the Side of Guilt
BUT HOW DO YOU JUST...GO EAT PANCAKES? 🥞
(I do see this is a cheeseburger.)
This recently came up with a client of mine, and I thought I'd share, as it comes up at quite predictable (for me) times of year: New Year Resolution season, and summertime.
I understand it's early in the week, and you have #goals to hit, and you're "supposed to be" eating nothing but your pre-prepped chicken boobs and vegetables. If you're recovering from diet culture, the prospect of a, "forget cooking; let's go get pancakes," brunch may seem terrifying. You might be thinking, "if I did that, I'd eat candy and mac and cheese for the rest of the day. I'd rather stick to the plan."
First and foremost, I think coaches who say, "it's just one day!" are giving lazy advice (similar to, "just love your body!"). Like, if that didn't send you into a spiral of anxiety and frustration in the first place, you'd be there already. NEXT.
Now, I present item two for your consideration: there is nothing wrong with eating pancakes, candy, and mac and cheese.
Certainly, many of us use food as a way to avoid uncomfortable emotions (been there; if you'd like to chat more about this, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email: I'm not one for small talk & heavy into the snags of life). But that is often more about our relationship with food than it is about the food itself.
No foods are, "bad," or, "good." Literally, none. If you feel comforted by a meal plan and would rather stick to that, by all means, you can choose to do so. If you wanna eat pancakes and mac and cheese all day long, however, go right ahead. Your worth is defined by far more than your food choices (your food choices don't enter into it at all, IMO).
It's not just us assigning moral value to food, but our culture deciding who is worthy of respect or not based on their outward appearance (what, you didn't realize that super-thin womxn eating stacks of pancakes is, "sexy," and for others, it's, "gross?").
If you can divorce yourself from the notion that your value is inextricably linked to a number on the scale, you'll begin to realize that there is so. much. more. to life than how many grams of carbs you're "allowed" to have (because, spoiler alert, YOU'RE ALLOWED TO HAVE THEM ALL.).
So, to answer the question, how do you just...go eat pancakes?
Give yourself permission to do it (or take mine, if you need it to start).
Relax (they're just pancakes. No one's life is on the line here, including and especially yours, and our feelings around food affect our digestion of it, so take a deep breath and chill; pancakes are great.).
Enjoy the pancakes, and know that this isn't the last time you're eating pancakes, if you don't want it to be. There can be more later, or tomorrow, or next Wednesday.
Evaluate how that made you feel (nervous? satisfied? free? Explore those feelings a bit, now or later; feeling, “out of control,” around food is often us not feeling…something else, or not recognizing some emotional patterns we have not just around food, but also in other places).
Eat something again in 3-4 hours (not eating at regular intervals is one of the highest predictors of binges).
**it’s also important to note that exactly NONE of these behaviors should be done with the explicit intention of, “eat less pancake.” Even the perception of future restriction can damage our relationship with food, and with ourselves, making us more likely to panic/binge/shame ourselves. You are, quite literally, taking in the entire experience of what it is to eat a pancake, perhaps for the first time without guilt tripping yourself for the entire meal. This can be scary! It is also great fun.
Diet culture has taught you that you can't trust yourself, particularly when it comes to your relationship with food.
Because if you eat whatever you want, you might not live up to a thin ideal, and then, if that happens, they can sell you a wrap or a cream or a diet or some "solution."
It's really that simple: it's not about your health (which you don't owe anyone anyway, but I digress). It's about $$$$.
Eat the pancakes. Or the salad. Or whatever you want! Take the pressure off and know: you can trust yourself.