For so many years I used to pressure myself about what I ate, and I still have a hard time with it. On top of that I also thought my meals should look a certain way. Without actually saying it out loud, I often felt like my lunch should be a wrap, a salad, a sandwich, left-overs of a perfectly cooked dinner, or even a bento-box. This wasn’t just for lunch, even when I was living alone I felt as though my dinners should LOOK like “DINNERS”. So many times I would try to be someone who “meal prepped” or “couponed” or at the very least someone who planned weekly meals. Beyond that, I also listened to every new food “solution” or “cure”, throwing everything out of my refrigerator and cabinet and reworking my entire lifestyle. Sometimes there might even only be a week in between these diverse diets/lifestyles. Honestly, I don’t know if I have had a set “normal” (as in a whole year of eating a certain way) since childhood, unless you count loving sugar, that’s been my only consistent. And I am not here to discuss yo-yo dieting or sugar addiction. What I am discussing is that I was stressing myself out with all of this and as someone who has suffered and continues to deal with mental/emotional burnout, anxiety, depression, and stomach issues… (not to mention a toxic relationship with food and fad dieting from a very young age) … I would overwhelm myself with how I felt my diet should look.
So it took a long time, and only to quite recently in fact, that I just decided to let myself “BE”. I am eating what I like, what agrees with me, and doing my best to add more healthy food. So, I plan to discuss more about the evils of the supposed “cure-alls” but right now, let’s focus on just being okay with food. It’s okay to eat cereal for lunch at work. (Or any food that agrees with you.) Personally, I know that rice Chex and Kix cereal with almond/coconut milk agrees with me. So I have been bringing that to work and not thinking about the rest. (It’s funny right after I decided to start doing so, I had another co-worker say, ‘Is that breakfast?’ I don’t know if they meant anything by it but it almost triggered me, instead, I just smiled and said, “No, when you eat food at this hour, it’s called lunch, but it is cereal if that is what you mean”.) Sometimes, if I remember I will also bring some nuts and fruit or some chips or veggies and dip to add some extra oomph to the nutrients I am getting. But it’s okay that my “meal” might not look like a meal to someone else or like someone else’s meal. It’s okay if my lunch looks like “breakfast”.
And I am not just talking about lunch or eating normally designated foods at different times. (For example when I have time and motivation I will even eat salmon, scallions, and cucumbers over freshly cooked rice for breakfast.) So yes that is part of it, but also knowing what works for my body, what nutrients I need, and how to provide for myself without stressing out over it or giving a damn what anyone else outside of my most trusted doctors say.
Another example of this is that, after a long day of dealing with people with exhausting personalities and some very negative vibes, it can feel overwhelming to have to cook, especially since most nights my husband works too late to join me for dinner, so busting out a lot of pots and pans just for me, seems extra draining. So I make sure I have some “healthy” microwave meals, some foods to put over rice (rice cooker is amazing), some simple fixings to make loaded nachos, canned soups, bread & peanut butter, etc.
Now, I am NOT saying that one should eat mindlessly or eat only chemical/sugar ridden junk food. But I am saying that it’s okay if some of your daily food intake may be considered junk. Mindful eating should NEVER be stressful eating. So I am saying it’s okay if your meals don’t look perfect or aren’t what you think your meals “should” look like. You got to listen to your body, your budget, and be aware of your emotional/physical state. Stressing out over a basic thing as giving the body fuel, creates a very unhealthy and confusing state for the body and mind.
Food is fuel, so do whatever works for you to get nutrients. Granted I am not a nutritionist (and honestly the authors of a lot of those books on so-called cure-all diets usually aren’t as well just a heads up)… But there are some fundamentals… Vegetables are important, protein is important, fiber is important… Sometimes you may need to take vitamins whilst other times you may need to add particular foods add the food items you body needs.
No matter what, You GOT this!