I’m back from a mini stay-cation that involved lots of home projects and cleaning. It wasn’t quite as good as a regular vacation, but our house does feel amazing! This week we’re digging into a big topic: healthified foods! These days, you can find “healthier” version of just about everything. From ice cream and tacos to smoothies and salads, there always seems to be some sort of hack being promoted! So when should you eat them? And when should you pass?
If you’re interested in chaining things up with your eating, you might love my free 7 Step Guide to Kick Dieting to the Curb!
Labels on Your Favorite Foods
My favorite snack bar has a lot of labels on it: paleo, grain free, natural sugar only, and all that sort of thing. Labels can be triggering! When you’re trying to leave a dieting mindset behind, they can bog you down and keep you tied to certain rules about “good” food and “bad” food.
On top of the labeling, we also have zucchini spirals for noodles, dates for dessert, cauliflower as pizza crust and potatoes — the list goes on and on! With all the substitutions and food transformation, it can get overwhelming.
As someone who does occasionally enjoy zoodles, cashew parmesan, and all sorts of other healthified foods, all while also practicing intuitive eating, I know how confusing the can seem. You might be dealing with all sorts of internal questions, like:
+ How is this different than dieting?
+ Isn’t this another form of restrictions?
+ How can I do it “right” and stop obsessing over labels?
And honestly, it all comes down to one thing: intention.
Why are you eating that?
I eat all sorts of date and nut snacks because I like them for what they are. They are date and nut snacks, and I enjoy them! They give me an energy boost, they have a bit of protein, and they taste great.
However, they aren’t an alternate for brownies and cookies.
Early on in my journey, I tried to eat them as a dessert replacement. I found myself eating a TON of them because I was trying to curb my dessert cravings. Ultimately, I’d end up eating way more date balls then I even wanted….and then caving in and eating brownies later anyways.
That didn’t work for me! If you love the taste of a certain type of food, then you can let yourself enjoy that food. I can eat date bars and ignore all the labels, simply because I love date bars and I’m eating them for me. Based on my work with intuitive eating, that’s an intention I can feel really good about.
Let’s Talk Healthified Pizza
Cauliflower as a crust replacement is really popular right now. Let’s talk about it! If you’re thinking about eating cauliflower crust pizza for lunch, there are a few questions you can ask to figure out if this is diet based thinking or intuitive eating based thinking.
- Why am I choosing cauliflower crust vs. regular crust pizza? An intuitive eater might notice that a heavier crust option on regular pizza makes them feel a bit bloated and sluggish, and that they won’t have much energy later in the day. If they have a big night out, this might not be a great idea. A cauliflower crust pizza might be perfect in this situation! If they’re able to stay in, enjoy a regular pizza, and do something relaxing that doesn’t require much energy or focus, it might be a great night for regular pizza. Alternately, a dieter might be noting calorie counts and nutrition facts in order to determine whether they “can” eat pizza, or if they should settle for the cauliflower crust instead.
- Will this truly satisfy me? If you answer this honestly, you might realize that eating the cauliflower crust pizza might make you crave regular pizza even more. If you eat a substitute, you won’t be satisfied, and will keep eating in order to fulfill that craving. However, it could be that a cauliflower crust pizza is honestly exactly what your body and taste buds need and want. Perfect! Enjoy your cauliflower crust!
- If a regular pizza felt 100% allowed and was 100% available to you right now, would you eat that instead? This question helps you understand if you’ve fully released restrictions. Sometimes we think we’re choosing something for the right reasons, but we’re really just making fear based decisions connected to old dieting ideas. If that’s the case, I encourage you to try some of these “fear” foods so you can get them off the pedestal they’ve been placed on.
You Won’t Decide Wrong
Whether you choose healthified foods or not, you can’t make the wrong decisions! Whatever choice you make, you can use the feedback to inform your food choices next time around.
A final tip? Don’t be afraid to rename foods!
Recently, I had a client trying out new breakfast foods. I suggested sweet potato toast with peanut butter and honey on top. I’ve had it before, and it’s pretty yummy! She replied, “That doesn’t sound like toast to me….”
In her case, she needs to rename that food in order to truly enjoy it. Otherwise, she’ll see it as a sad toast replacement, and she won’t be able to enjoy it in the same way.
A few years ago, I offered a pumpkin muffin to my brother. He quickly told me it was awful. On second thought, I explained it was really more of a baked oatmeal cup than an actual “muffin”. Once he heard that he took another bite…and he liked it! When he expected a muffin, a baked pumpkin oatmeal cup was not an acceptable replacement! But when he knew what it was and he ate it as that, he enjoyed it.
Rather than using healthified foods as replacements for the real deal, I’d encourage you to enjoy them for what they are, not for what they are “kind of like”.