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Tips for a Guilt-Free Summer

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Tips for a Guilt-Free Summer

Yesterday was a holiday, which means you probably enjoyed all the food and drink that often accompany a celebration. But, it’s summertime in Michigan and that tends to bring out the holiday-eating spirit (and habits) on most weekends. Or, during gatherings on days ending in “y,” for that matter. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of feelings of guilt surrounding eating during these times. That initial guilt often leads to doing more of the behaviors that brought on guilty feelings in the first place.  It can be a never-ending cycle.

The good news is that you can break the cycle!  Here are some tips for how you can put an end to guilt around your food choices - whether it's the 4th of July or a random Wednesday in the dead of winter:

1. Change how you talk about food.
We often hear or talk about food as being good or bad, but that language can be damaging without even realizing it. Are there foods that are more nutritionally beneficial and fuel your goals better than others? Absolutely. Are there some foods that might not have the same nutritional benefit, but make your soul happy? Definitely! We're lookin' at you, pizza!

Labeling any food group as "good" or "bad" has the unintended, but inherent, effect of subconsciously placing moral value on it. Meaning, when you eat "good" food, you subconsciously think YOU are good, and when you eat “bad” you feel like you’re being bad.

To combat this, embrace the idea that food is just food.  Decide that you’re simply eating according to your goals.  Whether the goal is 100% enjoying your vacation to the fullest, changing your body composition, enhancing your mental well-being, improving your physical health, trying out the best recipe for a seasonal cobbler.  You'll notice less feelings of stress, guilt, and anxiety around not only food, but the gatherings where food choices are varied.  And, this feeling of food freedom will last year-round.

2. Focus on how you want your life to FEEL over how it looks.
If there's one thing the last 27ish months have taught us, it's that you never know what tomorrow will bring. So, ask yourself how you want to feel. How you want your life to feel.

Energy flows where focus goes. Simply put, we create more of what we focus on. Focusing more on how you want to feel as you go throughout life, and making decisions that align with those feelings, will help create more of THAT.

At the end of the day, which would you prefer?  Making memories at a BBQ with family and friends while enjoying the best slice of key lime pie ever?  Or, obsessing over whether eating that slice of pie will throw off your wellness goals for the rest of the week? In the grand scheme of life, it’s most important to nourish your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.  And, sometimes that well-being means having a second slice of pie with your loved ones. 

3. Be intentional and plan ahead.
No matter your reason or motivation, maybe you feel better – physically, mentally, and emotionally - when you eat a certain way.  You don’t want to miss out on enjoying ice cream after a day of beaching Up North.  Or, bottomless mimosas at brunch.  Or, your friend’s must-have garlic bread torte that they bake for movie nights (Google it, it’s worth it!). 

Keep those occasions in mind and plan to enjoy it fully.  Planning ahead of time may seem silly, but when you want to eat certain foods, but struggle with feeling guilty about “indulging,” it can be helpful to know when you’ll have those foods.  In the meantime, you might choose more foods that empower your physical health goals and sprinkle in foods that make your soul smile.  Either way, the decision is yours and there are no “bad” or “good” labels attached to any of it.

Remember: You get one life, so when it comes to your health consider all parts of your humanness. Not just how much space you take up or what is (or isn’t) on your plate.

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