On facing your fear foods: why we fear foods, some practical tips for overcoming those fears, and why I eat bananas every day. In this post, I linked to a post by Rachael Hartley of Avocado A Day Nutrition about ditching the last diet rules. One such last diet rule that I noticed in my life a while ago had to do with bananas. My last diet before I discovered intuitive eating did not look fondly upon bananas. Speaking of diets, that particular one claimed to not be a diet, buuuuuuuut actually was (you know how it is). Struggling under the weight of orthorexia, I went above and beyond and basically swore never to eat a banana again.
You’ll never guess what happened next (okay, you probably will). It’s a shocker (not). I craved them. All the time.
We’re all born intuitive eaters. For me, that looked like eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was full. Eating what I felt like and what my mom cooked and put on the table for us. Eating not just as a physical experience, but as a social one. Cupcakes to celebrate the end of the school year. Popsicles slurped in the company of cousins after an August day spent in the pool in my grandparent’s backyard.
I didn’t fear foods. Except maybe super spicy ones. And raw baby carrots. Hated those things. But those were more of dislikes. I didn’t have to deal with this whole “facing your fear foods” thing. I certainly didn’t fear bananas. I’d eat them all the time in cooked into pancakes, sliced on homemade bread slathered thick with peanut butter, blended into smoothies with blueberries and vanilla, in cream pie on my brother’s birthday.
But then came the insecurity. And the eating disorder. And the restriction. The fear. And ALL the food rules.
Like I wrote earlier, my last orthorexic rally included a diet disguised as a “lifestyle” change, which included restrictions on bananas (and a bajillion other things). Basically, it fueled the fire of my food fears.
Food fears might not seem like that big a deal. But they can hinder you fully living your life. You avoid social situations. Family dinners and road trips become points of tension. Being invited over for dinner is anxiety-producing.
So how do you overcome them? How do you go about facing your fear foods? Here are a few things I did to help me feel comfortable eating my fear foods.
Recognize what your fear foods are and trace those fears back to their source.
Let’s take my banana example and run with it. I was able to trace my fear back to old diet rules, diet rules only caused me grief and that I’m now fundamentally opposed to. I had this fear, but I wasn’t sure what I was afraid of exactly. That leads to step two.
Come up with possible reasons for why your fear foods cause you anxiety. What are the consequences you fear will occur after eating those foods?
I had a whole list of made-up reasons for why bananas would inevitably kill me. But when I actually thought about it? Hadn’t I eaten bananas before on a regular basis–and lived to tell the tale? (<—- that sounds so lame.)
Come up with a plan for introducing one fear food back into your diet (diet as in all the things you eat, NOT a hyped-up fad that will only make you miserable and unhealthy). Implement it!
It probably won’t be easy. The first time I had a banana of my own free will after a few years of avoiding them, I would have sworn that something terrible was happening to me. My heart felt like it was beating too fast after just a few bites of my banana baked oatmeal and I just “knew” I was having a sugar rush or something. Actually, it was anxiety. The next time? Nothing. After the first banana oatmeal experience, it took me a little while to work up the courage to actually come up with a plan and stick with it. I ended up deciding to eat a banana every morning at breakfast, so I couldn’t push it off until later in the day.
It was hard at first. Uncomfortable. Admittedly, I had those all-too-familiar, irrational “I’m going to turn into a balloon” thoughts. But it got easier. And eventually, it felt freeing. I could make banana bread if I wanted to! (And let’s be real, that’s just about the best way to eat bananas.)
It’s no longer a rule for me to eat a banana every day. Some days I don’t feel like it. But, most days I do. Bananas + oatmeal = a match made in heaven. After all.
So I know I’m using bananas as my example. Maybe your fear foods are more, well, fear-inducing. You know, doughnuts and ice cream and the like. It feels too hard to eat a doughnut every single day. That’s okay. Try once a week. Maybe get a person to go on a doughnut date for–for accountability and security. And because it’s just more fun to eat doughnuts with friends!
But back to bananas. What did eating one a day do for me? It slowly removed my fear. It made me realize if I could do it once, I could do it again, with another fear food. I stopped feeling quite so obsessed with food. The panic around my fear foods lessened. I became more of an intuitive eater. <—– good feelings!
I hope this has been an encouragement to start facing your fear foods! What are/have been your fear foods? What steps can you take/have you taken to start facing your fear foods?
Linking up for Thinking Out Loud!