It’s Okay to Eat

I recently had a conversation over lunch where I told someone it was ok to eat a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.

I’m not a Registered Dietitian. I have no credentials. I’m just a human being who realizes that our bodies need food in order to function properly and that, as a result, eating food is an ok thing to do.

To help ease the shock, I explained the rationale of why it was ok to eat a bagel for breakfast. I said things like “It’s the morning, your body needs some calories and nutrition to get itself going,” and “Plain bagels really don’t have many calories. Most are under 300.” and “It’s ok to use cream cheese because it helps nutritionally round out your breakfast by adding some fat and protein.”

The entire table looked SO RELIEVED that someone, anyone, was speaking up and saying that it’s perfectly ok to eat a bagel.

Then, I asked to see a dessert menu after everyone else at the table said “NO! No dessert menus!” Once I decided on a dessert, everyone else at the table ordered dessert too.

I think we don’t trust our bodies and minds to adequately feed us. Someone says bagel and we begin making excuses of how “bad” bagels are, as if they are a poisonous toxic chemical leaking into the atmosphere and threatening to wipe out humanity.

The “dessert menu” is mentioned and people moan and groan like someone is exorcising an actual demon from their bodies and souls.

This is food we are talking about. We are not talking about things that would warrant such a reaction, like death, disease, poverty, animal cruelty, war or crime. We’re talking about food.

Let’s put trust in our mind and bodies to feed us. Let’s turn off the food police in our minds and in society that tells us we can’t have bagels or look at dessert menus. Let’s instead focus on the goodness of food. Let’s be mindful in our eating. Let’s honor our hunger instead of skipping meals and pretending like we won’t be hungry later. Let’s respect our fullness when we start to realize we’ve had enough of our current meal and let’s pack it up so we can enjoy it later. Let’s listen to what our bodies want. Let’s listen to how our bodies feel. Food is a source of nourishment and fuel. Food is not a source of guilt, grief, shame or anxiety.

It’s ok to eat food. You are a human being and you deserve to eat. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Erase every shred of guilt that you associate with food and eating, and instead focus on nourishing yourself.

Once you clear all the noise, you’ll be surprised to hear the other messages your brain sends. Like, “Wow! This dessert is great, but you’re full now. Pack the rest up and have it next time!” or “Wow! This dessert is great and you are still hungry! Finish it!” or “Nope, dessert honestly doesn’t sound great right now, but that’s ok because you can have dessert whenever you want it.”

I eat dessert whenever I want it. When I first started doing this whole eating dessert, I ate dessert every single day. I overate. I panicked. But now, I usually only want dessert a few times a week because I’m so used to it.

So, when I got the dessert menu yesterday, I chose a brownie. The brownie was huge and beautifully presented, topped with whipped cream and a cherry, drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce. I enjoyed it, ate it slow, savored it, realized when I’d had enough and had it boxed up so I could take it home and eat it later. I didn’t even think to take a picture of the brownie because it’s not special. It’s not out of ordinary. Brownies are a normal occurrence in my life.

That was yesterday and I’m still working on finishing it. I had some with my lunch, and I still have another serving for whenever I want it later. There is no sense of urgency, because I can have brownies whenever I please, because I have told myself that it’s ok to eat food items when I want them.

I still get signals of my mind trying to regulate my food intake, like, “You cannot have dessert because you are overweight!” or “You cannot have dessert because you ate pancakes already today!”

I tell the voice to be quiet, and I get what I want, and I put the food police to shame.

One more time: It’s ok to eat food.

Eat what you love, love what you eat, love yourself – mind, body and spirit – and if you find yourself at Harry & Izzy’s do yourself and favor and get the brownie.

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