I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot lately. When choosing what to eat how do we decide what is “good for you”? This question seems to have lost it’s meaning for me.

I mean maybe there are some objective things that aren’t “good for you”, like trying to eat a spoonful of dry ground cinnamon, but I’ve started to realize that what is “good for you” depends on what outcome you have prioritized, what your specific body needs, and how it reacts to food.

Anecdotes:

My daughter’s friend is allergic to peanuts. It would be really bad for her to eat peanuts. My kid can eat peanuts no problem.

Ok, so maybe that one is too obvious.

My husband’s step-father is a little overweight, has diabetes, and had a heart attack a few years back. It would not be good for him to eat a ribeye steak and a slice of apple pie a la mode every week. For me, it wouldn’t be a problem to have the steak, my cholesterol is shockingly low and protein works well with my body. For my husband, it wouldn’t be a problem to have the apple pie, he has no issue with sweets, biological or psychological.

A friend of mine in high school became a vegetarian and within the matter of a school year gained 60 pounds and has struggled with his weight ever since.

A friend of mine from graduate school became a vegetarian and within a matter of a school year lost 60 pounds and hasn’t struggled with his weight since.

My mother-in-law’s diet is primarily grains, starchy and non-starchy vegetables, and fruit. She’s been a normal weight her whole life. If I ate like that I’d gain weight.

One thing this realization has taught me (thank goodness) is that I can no longer compare myself to anyone else or how they eat. Would I like to be able to eat whatever I want in moderation and not gain weight? Sure thing I would. In fact, of my “champagne problems” that’s the one I want most. But, my body doesn’t work that way. My mind doesn’t work that way. I don’t think either ever did.

As a child I was kind of a picky eater. I liked typical kid foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, scrambled eggs, protein wasn’t a turn off for me, but I loved pasta and bread and felt obsessively compelled to eat sweets. And while being legitimately “overweight” didn’t kick in until I was pre-pubescent I was always a big kid and I always felt fat and I started hoarding and hiding and sneaking food (specifically sweets) when I was so young I have no memory of not doing it.

That tells me that neither my body nor my mind ever worked with food the way they should have.

Last week my husband started doing this diet with me. He went on the “attack” phase and did it for five days. When I started this last spring I did “attack” for 7 days and lost 6.5 pounds. He did it for 5 days and lost 1 pound. His body doesn’t work like mine. Accepting this is making my emotional life easier. At least I know now what works for me.

No sugar, flour, or wheat (and no fruit for now) is transforming my life. I was ruminating on my weight and inches post from yesterday and wrote an email to my husband about it later. I wrote, “I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that this way of eating has brought me sanity. Any threat to the food plan is also a threat to my emotional stability and I feel pretty strongly that that has to be protected at all costs.”

His reply was, “I agree 100%. Sanity comes first (and maybe second as well)… The best thing about this diet is that you’ve actually been MORE sane while on it. That’s got to be a first. I say stick with it for that reason alone. Maybe don’t even call it a diet… It’s just the food plan that keeps Elizabeth happy and relatively anxiety-free.”

That’s what I mean about prioritization. If all I care about is my weight, and I’m skinny, and I stay skinny while eating junk food and sweets, I guess that would be ok, my priority would be on being skinny. But if all I care about is eating whole foods and I don’t care if I’m fat or thin then I’ll eat all the olives, avocados, beans, lentils, whole grains, honey, and maple syrup I want.

But for me, I care about the special place where emotional balance and normal weight can overlap.

For now this “diet” is bringing me the closest to that place I’ve ever been in my life. This is why it’s becoming “the food plan that keeps Elizabeth happy and relatively anxiety-free” and not just a diet.

As for the inches and the clothes? I don’t see myself having time to go shopping for myself in the next month or so because I’d like to dedicate some time to a real shopping trip, not just running into Target with 15 minutes to spare and grabbing a couple of things. I’d also like to save a bit more money first. The birthday gift cards are great, but they’re not going to go all that far.

But, before Christmas I promise myself a shopping trip to replace and replenish my wardrobe with clothes that fit who I am today. Because today, liking who I am is what’s good for me.

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