What should you eat?
Scary question alert!
Do you feel so overwhelmed by this question, that some days you just say “screw it” and refuse to deal with it?
Or, is it something you want to ask, but don’t know where to begin?
Or would you love to have a concrete plan for your eating, but are afraid of all the labels, stigma, and misinformation?
Emotional eating and unwanted food cravings can definitely get in the way, but I’m here to tell you that knowing what to eat is not magic, rocket-science, or something that’s worked out by ‘experts’. You can do it, achieve your goals, and live a happy, tasty, life.
What should you eat?
This question has a crazy simple answer. Eat real meat/protein, healthy fats, more vegetables, less sugar.
But, I know you want more than that. You want a plan.
Download your free worksheets here and read on to make a plan for success.
The first question to ask is: What do I want to eat?
Not the cravings, or guilt, or whatever, but what does your body, heart, and soul want to eat? What foods feel truly nourishing to you? What foods make you feel
- filled up
Take notice of these. I can guarantee they will generally be low/no processed kinds of food.
These foods should make up the core of your eating.
Use them as the basis for creating your own eating plan.
Your second question is: What do I want my eating to do for me?
What are your goals with your eating? There are really four kinds of things you can do with your diet:
1) Maintain – You eat to maintain the health and weight that you have. You are happy where you are and want to remain at your current level of health, fitness, and stability.
2) Therapy – There is something you want to improve or work on. It could be weight, mood issues, fatigue, muscle gain, pain, emotional instability… anything. You want to eat in a way that promotes positive change.
3) Experiment – You want to try something and see what happens. How would you feel if you were eating a vegetable based diet? A low-carb diet? Dairy-free? Drank more water?
4) Optimize – You want to eat in a way that promotes excellent performance. This could be at the gym, mentally at work, for pregnancy. You already have a great base and want to go the extra mile to optimize one area.
So your job is to work out your goal, or what you’d like to do with your eating.
Now: research time – what ‘diets’ are other people with your same goal doing? What does the research suggest? Have a look and pick a plan that sounds good to you.
And then add the secret, magic, awesome-sauce: change the base plan.
You’re going to add in the foods you brainstormed in step 1 and remove anything that sounds like it won’t work for you.
For example, imagine you do some research and decide that a plant-based diet sounds wonderful. Lots of people are reporting results exactly like that you’re trying to achieve (step 2). But, you’ve found you love a good steak once a week and onions and garlic give you gas.
That’s perfect. You do not have to follow a vegetarian diet. You can eat your steak, skip the onions and garlic, and follow a plant-based plan the rest of the time.
Unless you’ve been given an eating plan by a doctor or nutritionist for medical reasons, the is no need to follow anyone’s diet plan perfectly. Your body, your food, your rules.
This is what I call ‘template eating’. You pick a protocol (paleo, vegan, Atkins, Weight Watchers, whatever) and then you tweak it by adding or removing foods, or adapting the ‘rules’ until you have what you want.
Why not just follow the ‘diet’?
A static diet can not possibly ever fit you for every moment of your life, as emotions, environment, hormones, beliefs, and biology change in and around you. You are the one who has to take responsibility and listen and adapt to this.
This is awesome! You can use established ‘diets’ as a guide or suggestion and use them to empower your eating, have fun, experiment, and ultimately find lasting success. You find out what foods work for you.
A word on labeling:
Many of the labeled diets become a bit like a religion. Sure, it’s great to be a part of a community and have support and belonging, but when we start judging others for their level of devoutness or refuse to accept that other ideas may be right (at least for that person), we’ve gone too far.
With template eating, you can join the community of the template you are following, but you don’t have to lock yourself in the box with that label.
As an emotional eater, you’ll likely find yourself using labels to either restrict yourself or rebel against. Neither one is helpful.
So that was the ‘why’ of template eating. Now, how can you actually do it?
How to do it:
- Brainstorm your nourishing foods
- Decide on a goal
- Research diets – find one that appeals
- Try it in its base form for 2-3 weeks
- Assess – what are you feeling? Craving? Missing? Improving? Developing?
- Modify – start to change the plan to include more of your nourishing foods and use the knowledge you’re gaining to make changes as you go.
What about ‘junk food’?
If you’re template eating and not following rigid rules, does that mean ANY food is ok to eat?
I say yes, with a few important qualifications. The first one is honesty. Honesty with yourself. If you can truly say that the junk food that you love makes you feel great and that you don’t have an unhealthy relationship or reliance on it, then I say ‘yes, eat it’.
I am like this with ice cream and popcorn.
I can remove both from my diet, add them back in, and the only thing I can observe is enjoyment (as long as I don’t over-do it). Cake, however, is a different story.
I love cake! I can easily remove cake from my diet, but when I add it back in I get bloating, headaches, and sometimes even dizziness. So, if I’m honest with myself, I know I shouldn’t eat cake much at all – so I don’t.
If your life is truly better with a food, keep it.
It’s not easy, but it works
Template eating isn’t easy. It’s an incredibly powerful approach, but it does demand that you make your health and body a priority and take responsibility for your own wellbeing.
You’re responsible for finding what works for you. This is empowering, but it is also scary – most people have the habit of leaving their health up to ‘experts’.
That hasn’t been working, so it’s time to get in there, work hard, and become the expert on you.
If you’re looking for more than just ‘what to eat’
If you feel like your eating is out of control and something you struggle with ALL the time, and like you’re using food to fill yourself up emotionally, you’ll need more than an eating plan.
You need a plan to help you fill yourself up in ways that aren’t food.
Check out the 7-day Emotional Eating Plan. You’ll get the tools, information, and resources you need to finally stop letting food control your life.
It’s highly actionable, totally empowering, and best of all – not about rigid diet rules or being ‘right’. It 100% works with the free worksheets in this blog post.
The 7-day plan is a 20+ page workbook (including actionable info) to help you plan a 7-day emotional eating intervention for yourself. You’ll learn why you overeat, how to stop, and what you can do instead.