How do you decide what to eat at each meal? I assume most people answer, “I have what I am craving.” Nope, NOT ME. I make decisions everyday in life and at work. Big decisions and I feel confident in them. Yet, you ask me what I want to eat and I’m a mess. An absolute mess.
For as long as I can remember, deciding what to eat was a huge decision.
Here is an example of a typical morning for me. I’m on the subway heading to work. I’m either reading, editing my scripts or listening to music and I get that first hunger pang of the day, which reminds me, I need to stop for breakfast. Then my mind begins to race, every option and consequence races through my head. My inner monologue sounds like this… I could stop at Starbucks and get oatmeal with my coffee, but wait, if I have oatmeal is that too many carbs? They have those yogurt muffins at the bodega by my office, but if I grab a muffin will my day go to shit. I mean a muffin is cake right? That’s what they told me in Weight Watchers once. You know what, I’ll just skip breakfast. I mean do I need breakfast? I can really save a couple hundred calories and just milk my coffee all morning. Crap, won’t my metabolism slow down because I’m in starvation mode? You know, I should just eat hard boiled eggs because I’m supposed to eat hard boiled eggs; protein, no carbs. But, Ugh, the thought of eating hard boiled eggs makes me feel a little sick. You know what, I’m having a bagel. I’m just gonna have a bagel. I don’t care, I’ll have the bagel. Shit….My stop is almost here. Whatever I’ll just get the muffin. The line at Starbucks is too long anyways and it’s made with yogurt so fine.” BUT, like clockwork, my muffin has an aftertaste of regret. I should have had the hard boiled eggs, I think.
Here’s another scenario I encounter daily
My husband: “What do you want to eat for dinner?”
Me: “I don’t care, you decide.”
My husband: “OK, I’ll pick up Chinese.”
Me: “No, I don’t really want that tonight.”
My husband: “Ok I’ll just grab our usual from the Mediterranean place.”
My husband: “Grilled chicken salad from the Italian place.”
Me: “Ehhh, no I don’t really feel like that tonight.”
My husband: “OK, then just tell me what you want.”
Me: “I honestly don’t care, you decide.”
This. is. every. single. night.
This sums it up nicely:
Why do we put so much pressure on choosing what to eat? Why does every meal feel like the biggest decision of our lives? Worse, why do we feel that if we make the wrong decision, our worlds are going to come crashing down? We eat breakfast every single day. We eat lunch every single day. We eat dinner every single day. So, I really shouldn’t feel such intense anxiety.
How do we remove the pressure associated with each meal? Each bite? Each calorie?
We need to remove the labels we have placed on food. For most of us, food fits into two categories: good and bad. If I eat a good food, I’m good. If I eat a bad food, I’m bad.
What if we removed the labels? What if picking our meal was just a choice. A choice that is just one of the millions we’ll make in our lifetime.
We need to remember that we will have “bad foods” every once in a while, but that doesn’t make us bad. And one bite, one meal, one “bad food” won’t change who we are. It won’t change our self worth and honestly won’t change the scale or our jean size. One “bad food” doesn’t have to mean one bad day, that turns into two bad days, that turns into, “I’ll start again on Monday.” Just let food be food.
And WOW when you silence the “what will I eat inner-monologue,” boy will you have a lot more free time. What will you do with all that free time?! The possibilities are endless.