Balanced Lifestyle, Balanced Eating Styles
Now I am going to try to leave the whole labeling and diagnosis of eating disorders and disordered eating to the medical professionals, where it belongs. Instead I want to focus on the positive and proactive things we can each do to be healthier and happier – including how and what we eat.
I am going to try to explain all of this within a framework (disclaimer: which is certainly not done in a scientific, proven or perfect way at all!), so we can take all the stigma and shame out of eating and enjoy food in a healthy and happy way. I am going to talk about the concept of “eating styles” and how to work towards having realistic expectations and standards for ourselves in regards to food.
We all want to find the best balance in our life so we can live a long, happy and healthy life. What we talk about is having a “lifestyle” we enjoy — a balance between work, play, enjoyment and quality of life — one that is unique to us, our values and preferred activities.
“Eating style” is sort of the same. It’s about healthy eating in the real world, which fits in with our real and perfectly imperfect individual lives. A style that allows us to enjoy eating while we take in the necessities and energy to keep us happy and healthy right now, and chugging along into the future.
By identifying a couple of the most common styles, both helpful and unhelpful, we can understand our own eating triggers more readily. We can be a step closer to developing an eating style which gives our body, mind and soul everything they could possibly need.
I have come up with four eating styles and given them silly names (made from acronyms) so we can objectively talk about eating without stigma, shame or guilt. If you can come up with better names (or additional ones) contact me and let me know!
RISky – Restricting Intake Significantly
This includes strict diets, skipping meals, avoiding foods and/or whole food groups, counting calories or measuring portions. RISky eating takes up so much time and headspace. It can cause so much stress and can often make us obsess about food (and what we “can’t” have) even more. A RISky eating style may not give your body, mind or soul what it needs and certainly does not guarantee health nor happiness.
OOCky – Out Of Control
This refers to binge eating or even snacking when we know we aren’t hungry, and we know we are going to eat less or less healthy later to make up for it. This sort of eating can lead to compensatory behaviours and terribly negative emotions as well as eventually some unhealthy repercussions for our bodies, as well as our minds and souls.
BYNky – Balanced Yummy Nutritious
This is the closest we get to realistic healthy eating and a balance (think of the Goldilocks effect and the “just right” feeling) where we eat everything we need and just enough of the stuff we “want”. This one also recognises that the healthy food necessary for our bodies, minds and souls is yummy as well as nutritious. This is the style where we get to eat “elegant sufficiency”.
GORky – Grab On the Run
This one is almost a necessity in the busyness and chaos of our daily lives – such as school, sport, work, uni or social. While we can handle a little of this style, it isn’t sustainable day-in day-out. Keep in mind also, that GORky isn’t mutually exclusive – with a little bit of forethought (and healthy shopping) GORky can always be a bit BYNky as well.
So instead of going on a diet, or following a set plan, or adhering to unconventional and unhealthy food rules and rituals, or aiming for a number on a set of scales, try to think about having the goal to reduce how much RISky and OOCky eating you do and slowly increase BYNky eating so it becomes a habit, a way of life or simply your preferred eating style. Be realistic and allow for some GORky in your life as well when it is needed.
Try drawing two circles:
Divide the first into how much of each style you do now. Be honest with yourself, you don’t have to show it to anyone else.
Now in the second one, draw the proportions the way you would like your eating to be in one week's time. Make it a little bit of a challenge if you need to, but not so hard you will give up. Remember any change toward healthy eating is a huge step! Each week, adjust your goal circle just a tiny bit (if needed) as you see how much you have accomplished and changed (or continued) with healthy eating in the last week.
Love and light,
* Results from BAM may vary. Strict adherence to the program is required for best results.