Understanding Food FreedomSep 06, 2023
The term food freedom has political roots, where it means freedom from industrial food production. The “Food Freedom Act” finalized in December 2018, recognizes the right of individuals to produce, procure, and consume homemade foods of their choice free from unnecessary and anticompetitive regulations; and to foster small businesses, innovation, and economic growth.
For this blog, however, I am not talking about the politics of food freedom, but rather about understanding food freedom as it pertains to us, as people caught up in the multi-billion dollar diet industry, with – at best – it’s rules and requirements, and with – at worst – it’s tendency to drive people into disordered eating and towards other emotional issues.
Here is Your Roadmap to this Blog on Food Freedom:
What Understanding Food Freedom Means For the Dieter
- Food Freedom has become a popular buzzword in the health industry and media. With food freedom you learn to be in control of your food choices, rather than letting them control you. It is learning to allow all foods in your diet without guilt, rules, or any other negative associations.
- Living with the spirit of Food Freedom goes hand-in-hand with my recent blog on gentle nutrition, and refers to rejecting dieting culture and restrictive diets and giving yourself permission to enjoy most foods in moderation. At its core, food freedom has very little to do with the nutritional components of the food, and much more to do with our mental and emotional state surrounding your food choices.
- However, if you are going to follow the path of successful food freedom, it is best that you understand that concept of gentle nutrition. You can eat in response to hunger by stopping at 12 cookies instead of 15, but that type of food freedom does us little good if it keeps our insulin high, keeps unwanted fat on our body, makes us feel unwell and hungry and tired all the time, and causes us to lose hope that we will never lose weight and feel better.
Food Freedom Is Not Another Diet
- Food freedom is not another diet with its own set of diet rules. There are, what I would call “tips” that can be construed as rules, but I prefer to look at them in a more kind way as they are gentle themselves. Some of these tips would be:
- Tip #1: Listen to your hunger and satiety cues. No news here – I have been talking about this since my first week of podcast episodes!
- Tip #2: Avoid labeling foods as good or bad – The way I put it is that there are foods that will get you to your goal or move you away from it. There will be times that your priority in that moment is not goal-oriented, and that’s okay.
- Tip #3: Enjoy your food. In my course I talk a lot about savoring your food.
- There are so many ways to accomplish this
- Eat your food with as many senses as you can,
- Slow down to eat and that includes chewing and swallowing
- Ground yourself with a few deep breaths before eating
- Have gratitude for the food in front of you.
- Tip #4: Learn to cope with your feelings.
- Feelings are only thoughts and cannot hurt you.
- Sit with them a bit.
- Don’t reach for food in response to a trigger – otherwise that food still will control you.
- Tip #5: Respect your body.
- This is not just in terms of the food you put in it to bring about health and feeling well.
- It also means not to have contempt for your body no matter what shape you are in.
- You can never lose weight by hating yourself. You can never hate yourself thin.
- Think of your body as a work in progress, the progress being that you are here right now listening to this podcast and learning how to move forward.
- Tip #6: Stop looking to the next diet as your solution.
- Instead learn about foods so that you can make your next-best decisions about what to eat.
- Learn the lessons I have been giving you in these blogs and my podcast –
- how to set up a safe homebase food environment;
- how to break goals into small manageable steps that actually make sense for you and your lifestyle;
- how to handle food pushers;
- your feelings about wasting food;
- how to do sensible grocery shopping.
- The answers for you are not in the next diet. They are in exploring your mindset, finding your whys, and learning to keep things simple.
- Tip #7: Take charge of your health.
- We lose weight by getting healthy. We don’t get healthy by losing weight.
- Learn about your hormones and how various foods affect them.
- Learn about your lipid numbers and what you can eat to bring them into health range.
- Find a healthcare provider who doesn’t just throw drugs at you and calls it a day.
- This can be a hard and difficult search.
- The best doctors and nutritionists for this are usually in the field of functional medicine and they are often not covered by insurance because insurance could never, in a million years, compensate them for what they do for their patients.
- Look into integrative medicine, which insurance will usually cover.
- These doctors are often more open-minded in the field of nutrition.
- There are so many ways to accomplish this
Components of Food Freedom
- Food freedom has many components
- These beliefs and components are that food freedom doesn’t mean ignoring health, it just means not being held to restrictive diet patterns or food rules as a means to get there.
- This is what I think is most difficult with finding success with intuitive eating.
- It is because after so many years of restriction, we really want to dive right in with the desserts, chips, and even cuisines and other foods that have been off limits, like Chinese food or pizza.
- They may have not been off limits, but we restricted ourselves because we find it so hard to eat those foods in moderation.
- That elusive moderation piece sometimes is because of the food, not necessarily any emotional ties we have to it.
- With food freedom, intuitive eating, and the like, eating without restriction, deprivation, guilt, shame or fear of judgment is so important.
- You need to give up the strive to eat “perfectly” by recognizing that there is no perfect way to nourish your body because each person is different and even you and your needs are different day to day.
- You also give up counting calories, macros, numbers on a scale, or strictly portioning food. Instead, your choices are made on internal cues:
- What you are really, really wanting.
- Whether or not it is what your body needs at the moment even if your mind is clamoring for it.
- Where you are sitting with your hunger and satiety cues.
- Every person has their own health goals and eating habits, and everyone deserves freedom and less anxiety with food along the way.
- And, although it is true that you can experience food freedom regardless of your current health situation, I do believe that it matters what food you eat regularly.
- I believe at any size you deserve to have a positive and judgment-free relationship with yourself and the foods you eat.
- I believe that you should never punish yourself after even a moment of unhealthy eating, let alone several meals or several days of doing so.
- I believe that you don’t have to spend all your time and energy worrying about what you are eating, what you look like, or what people think of you.
- I believe at any size you deserve to think kindly towards yourself and realize that you are worth any amount of effort and education to really achieve health.
- But remember what I have been saying:
- You need to be healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to be healthy.
- What this means is that you should strive to take care of your body and your body will take care of you.
- It will take self-care and experimentation to do this.
When the Food Itself Gets in the Way of Moderation
- Please remember the lessons on how sugar begets sugar cravings and how sugar does light up the pleasure center of your brain.
- Yes, there is nothing morally wrong with eating a cookie.
- What is wrong for you, if you have the least bit of insulin resistance, is that you will have an exaggerated insulin response, and cravings, or inability to feel you have had enough of certain foods.
- It is actually more important to know yourself rather than calorie counts and carbohydrate grams in a food.
- This is why moderation is such an elusive thing for some of us.
- A cookie leads to 10, a slice of cake leads to half the cake, a serving of chips leads to the bag, etc.
- Yes, part of it is absolutely behavior driven.
- But be aware that sometimes it is the food itself and this is where you might have to SELF-IMPOSE (not diet impose) some restrictions until you either get your insulin under control, or do enough self-discovery work so that you do not respond swiftly to urges and triggers.
- It does not make you a bad person or morally bankrupt.
- It just means that you have an insulin issue or have more work to do with your responses to triggers and urges.
- None of this needs to permanent, devastating, irreversible or catastrophic.
- It just means you have to step away from the food and figure out what is best for you at the moment.
- You need to be your own expert – which is really the basis of food freedom – not whether you eat all the things in all the quantities.
- What it means is that you need educate yourself about what foods have responses in your body other than filling your belly.
Become An Advocate for Yourself
- With your own physician or nurse practitioner, become a strong advocate for yourself.
- Don’t be bullied into being made to believe that all your problems stem from your weight.
- They do not, but usually we are too ashamed to speak up.
- And on the subject of health care providers, you might also want to look to find a D.O., which is a doctor of osteopathy.
- DOs are fully trained and licensed physicians who practice in all areas of medicine using a whole person approach to partner with their patients.
- The key words here are “whole person” and “partner”.
- They treat the entire person rather than just the symptoms, with a focus on preventive health care.
- They help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but help prevent it, too.
- They are trained to be doctors first, and specialists second.
- They will be covered by your insurance, unless they are part of a functional medical practice which might not take insurance.
ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE
- Eat within the bounds of what you can medically eat (in other words, if you are battling insulin resistance, try to stick to the Keto food list, or if you have a sensitivity or intolerance, stay away from that food),
- Give yourself permission to enjoy pleasurable foods regularly.
- Build at least two of these foods into your plans this week.
- And remember, there are Keto substitutions for almost any food out there. Craving a vanilla pound cake? Yep, there are Keto recipes for that!
- Do give equal airtime to health-promoting habits such as staying hydrated and engaging in fun physical activity. Remember, Health is not the number on the scale – it is your body’s condition.
- Tune in to your fullness and hunger when deciding when and how much to eat.
- Don’t pay that much attention to external cues such as eating because it’s a specific time of day or because you feel you must clean your plate.
- Eat slowly, without distractions, and savor your food. This is in Episode #29, Mindfulness Practices.
- Focus on how a food makes you feel, and choose more foods that make you feel good.
- Feeling Your Best is the last lesson in my course, Keto and Low Carb Success, because it sums up the entire point of eating what makes your body sing.
- Every bit of advice I have given you in these blogs and podcasts strives toward helping you with this one concept: Eat so you feel your best.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, Food Freedom, and I hope it will help you navigate your journey. Don't forget to subscribe to the mailing list (below) so that you don't miss the next one!
My course, Keto and Low Carb Success is built on nutritional wisdom and the most important elements of finding your normal through help with urges, feeling your best, setting smart goals, learning about your next best decisions, etc. There are so many more topics like these in this course. Please check the link below. I have very special gifts and pricing for the summer of 2023.
Now, let me remind you. If you’ve ever got a question you’d like to ask me or share a topic idea that you would like me to cover in a future blog, don’t be a stranger! I always look forward to hearing from readers like you. You are welcome to email me directly… [email protected].
Learn more about this with my book and course:
Book Conquer Cravings with Keto
Course Keto and Low Carb Success