I have spent a good chunk of my life thinking about food.
When I think about important dates or celebrations in my life, I can almost always tell you what I ate. I love to bake and have a deep and lasting love for pizza and potato chips.
Food and I can be the best of friends, but we also have another side to our relationship.
Food can also feel like my foe.
I have eaten according to numerous diet trends. I have done low carb, calorie counting, and was a vegetarian for almost two years. I have made rules about what foods are okay to eat and when to eat them. I have overeaten, and I have under eaten. Over the years, these food rules have been a constant voice in my head with varying levels of volume and control. I have cycled back and forth between enjoying the feelings of control I have over food and feeling the weight of worrying about all my meals.
With my track record of an unhealthy relationship with food, I was scared of pregnancy and motherhood. How would I handle food in these stages of life? To me, it often seemed like pregnant women fell in to two categories: those that would eat whatever, whenever because they were eating for two, or those who would only eat “healthy” food for fear of additional weight gain. I honestly could see myself falling in to either category, and the idea of that filled me with anxiety.
To my surprise and relief, food filled another category for me when I became pregnant: I finally was able to see food as purposeful.
Food simply became food. It was what sustained my baby girl and me. That didn’t mean food suddenly became boring or that I didn’t enjoy it. That season of life actually made me enjoy food more because I wasn’t obsessing over every little thing I ate. I tuned in to what my body wanted and needed more than I ever had before, and that was extremely freeing.
I later learned that this idea of trusting our bodies and being in sync with what they need is called intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is a way to make peace with food and our bodies. This doesn’t mean that we throw logic out the door, but we also don’t limit our food choices based on what we think we “should” eat. Rather, we access what sounds good, what would help our bodies function well, and what’s available.
I would be lying if I said that intuitive eating is always easy, especially after so many years of eating by my self-imposed rules. But as we mamas know, hard doesn’t mean not worthwhile. It will continue to take time and hard work to rewrite the rules I’ve written about food, but I will keep at it.
Becoming a mother only increased my desire for my daughter to live a life free (or as free as possible) from the worry of food.
I want her to know that what her body looks like isn’t nearly as important as what her body allows her to do. When we have perspective on what really matters, we are free to actually live our lives without the distraction of what our next meal will be.
So in my house, we eat cookies and green beans. We choose foods that taste great, but also provide the nutrients we need. It is a balancing act, and one that we are still learning together. I’ll admit that I wish I had figured out more of this before becoming a mother, but there’s something sweet and humbling about doing this alongside my daughter.
It’s never too late to wave your white flag against the war on food.
Because if motherhood has taught me anything, it is that what I do and how I do it isn’t simply about me anymore. It’s about her too. So, I choose peace—for myself and for my daughter.