Everyone wanted to be natural — easygoing, spontaneous. Make love not war. Love the one you’re with. We wore no makeup (and no bras for that matter). We shunned nail polish, high heels and anything too feminine or frilly. Certainly, the concept of “naturalness” planted itself firmly in my consciousness as a virtue.
Recently, however, I realized that it was actually this “virtue” that was negatively affecting my ability to take control of my eating habits.
If my body changes, must my attitudes change too?
Despite a consistent regimen of walking and weight training, I recently began gaining weight. I suppose I could try to lose the extra pounds by walking harder, faster, longer, but I am happy with my health and the time I spend exercising. I don’t really want to devote more time to it. That means changing my diet is the only other thing to consider.
In many ways, I do eat very healthfully. I use skim milk, eat mostly chicken and fish, use no high-fat sauces or gravies. I love broccoli and green beans, strawberries and apples. But my eating habits are far from perfect. I love pizza and ice cream. Hormonal changes have certainly had their impact. So have lifestyle changes — such as moving to a house without stairs. And I do tend to give in to cravings because, well, it seems like the natural, and thus right, thing to do.
Changing eating habits
I have found that it takes a lot of effort to change my eating patterns, perhaps more than it does to take up an exercise program! And here’s where my ingrained feelings toward being natural come into play. When it comes to food, I just want to continue to eat as I always have — whenever and whatever I want. I want eating to be natural and spontaneous, not measured and disciplined.
It’s funny, though, because when I think about my actions in other areas of my life, I realize they’re far from “natural.” For instance, I am always eager to discipline myself; I think before I act; and I strive to become more aware and conscious of my decisions. I enjoy this kind of personal growth. But when I apply my definitions of natural and unnatural to these situations, I’m clearly in the unnatural department. And I’m OK with that.
So now I’m realizing that my efforts at healthy eating could be viewed in the same way. It’s not that I have to restrict myself from acting on every urge and craving entirely, but rather that I simply need to stop and think before I react to every emotional and physical stimulus to eat.
Seeing food choices in this way turned on a light for me. Maybe it can help you too.