I believe that eating a cookie IS part of a healthy diet. I'm explaining how I practice intuitive eating, the messages the media tells us about what is and isn't good for you, and how everything in moderation is the best thing you can do for your body.

Fact: it is nearly impossible to go a day without seeing some sort of messaging that categorizes the food we eat. Only real ingredients. Paleo friendly. Vegan. Gluten free. Dairy free. 

This messaging fills our Instagram feeds. Our Facebook feeds. It even permeates the way we eat out (“do you have any dietary restrictions I should be aware of?” “do you need a gluten-free menu?”).

Whether we realize it or not, the more we’re surrounded with this messaging, the more we send subconscious signals to ourself that if we aren’t eating in a way that fits into a neat and definable box, we’re doing something wrong.

Unfortunately for so many people- regardless of good intentions- categorizing our food intake can easily lead to an unhealthy fixation with food. And I’ll be the first to admit that I get it. Because I’ve been there.

In high school and college, I used to give so much weight to the type of food I put into my body. Cheese? Bad. Giant salad? Good. Low fat over full fat, always. Only thinly sliced bread. It went on and on.

I did this despite my mom teaching my sister and me how to eat instinctively. And intuitive eating worked when I was a kid. I loved sweet apple juice, so I drank it. I loved chips, so I ate them. Always in moderation, but also without apprehension.

Unfortunately as I grew into adulthood, I became overwhelmed with cultural messaging telling me to eat a certain way. To follow certain rules, to look like this and not that, to only eat foods that are “good for you,” and to not eat the bad ones.

So I started to become obsessive. 

I remember being in college and talking to my mom about my struggles with eating. “It’s like I can’t get this voice out of my head telling me to eat a certain way. It’s so loud. Is it going to be like this forever?” 

“No, it won’t,” she said.

She told me that she used to think this way, too. “But as you get older, you learn to listen more to your body and what it needs. It might not go away completely, but that voice will get softer, and you just won’t care as much.” 

I held on to that, hard.

When I heard that voice in my head counting out calories, I would literally distract myself with something else so I couldn’t count. I would challenge myself to eat the things I felt were bad. And the more I did the more I realized that these “bad” foods weren’t bad at all. They were just… food. 

It took a while, but the more I learned to eat intuitively the less I cared about the type of food I ate. As long as I don’t eat five of them a day, eating a cookie does nothing to change the way my body looks or feels. If anything, eating a cookie makes me feel happier. Eating a cookie gives me joy. And there is something really beautiful about that. 

One thing that I’ve learned in the last 5 years that has changed the way I think about food is this:

When it comes down to it, a healthy diet has less to do with the type of food you eat, and everything to do with your relationship to food.

Our bodies can be a lot stronger than our minds. Because our bodies do best when they are given what they need. They don’t fret over the choices we make. They just take in the food we feed them, and turn it into energy. So our bodies don’t give a shit when we eat gluten-free pasta over regular pasta. Or regular ice cream over vegan ice cream. They just want to be nourished.

If you feel like this post resonates with what you’re going through right now, I want to challenge you to try to cultivate a nurturing relationship between you and the food you eat. As stupid as this sounds, before each meal, thank the food you’re about to eat for nourishing you and giving you the energy you need. Before you eat foods you think of as “bad,” thank it for making your tastebuds happy. The more you can appreciate and be thankful for all foods, the less you will associate certain foods as negative. 

You can absolutely eat gluten-free and vegan if that’s what truly makes your body feel good. But you can also eat from every food group and be equally as healthy. 

It’s alright to eat full fat yogurt, and honestly you’ll probably be more full in 3 hours than if you ate the low-fat yogurt. It’s completely OK to eat too many fries, and if you do, don’t punish yourself for it later on. 

And eating a cookie is part of a healthy diet.

6 comments

Avatar
Marie Lamensch
Reply

You are so right. So so right. This is coming from someone with anorexia. When you restrict, you end up in a horrible cycle. Suddenly, you go go from 1200 calories a day to 500. Nothing is ever good enough. You should have had that cookie but by now you can’t even bring yourself to eat one crumb. So, before it is too late, eat that cookie. Your body will instinctively tell you that it is just fine with a couple of them.

Avatar
Anna
Reply

Hey! I’m pretty surprised to find no comments under this post. Is it because we’re too shy to speak about our eating behaviour, is it because we agree and can’t admit it, or is it because we’re so brain-washed from the (social) media around us that we actually believe we’re doing it ‘right’ when we eat gluten-free, vegan, paleo and what not?
I for my part, couldn’t agree more! Intuitive eating and actually listening to what my body needs is what makes me feel my best. And yes, that means a lot of different veggies and fruits, a fair amount of grains, and, yes, something sweet too. Whether that’s a cake I made myself, a luxurious chocolate croissant from the bakery or a simple date and some nuts on other days. Eating should make us feel happy, not weird, sad, or guilty.
Thank you Sarah for speaking your mind. And I hope that even though there are not comments agreeing to what you wrote, I still hope there are tons of women AND men out there nodding their heads while reading it.
Have a great day! And enjoy your cookie 😉

Avatar
Daniele
Reply

You know the feeling when you read something and in your head everything resonates so well. What I mean is that Im so happy for the article your wrote.
I’ve never had serious heath issues in the past, but since Im a kid my mother used to fed me and teach me to relate with food in this beautiful way and is one of the things that Im most grateful for.
Have a healthy relationship, being sensible and listen to our body is fantastic.
Thanks for sharing this Sarah, its so nice to meet like minded people.
I’ll share this with a lot more!
Have a wonderful day
Daniele

Avatar
Karen
Reply

Well said and very true! This is what I did and do and it is a lifetime eating plan and is very portable. Once I started doing this and stopped restricting what I ate or denying myself , my relationship with food became much more enjoyable. I wa in an unhealthy eating pattern bordering on anorexia and binging. I am mindful about my eating and it is important to understand the nutrition and portions of food you eat to be healthy, but it’s also important to enjoy all food without it being denied or forbidden. I actually have 3 vices I incorporate in my daily eating and they are potato chips, a regular beer and dessert of some sort because I enjoy baking. I call it my 80/20 eating plan. Thank you for this very wise way of sensible eating!

Avatar
Sarah Smith
Reply

It is very informative. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing.

Avatar
Kavita
Reply

This is a really interesting article. And I totally agree with your point that eating cookies is a part of a healthy diet. I have tried it myself. Thanks for the great post-Sarah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *