Even though I love donuts and Doritos, I somehow have a reputation as a “healthy eater.” Mostly, I think, because I love vegetables, fruit, smoothies, vegan fare, and simple, whole ingredients.
I was recently reminded of my “healthy eater” status when one of my middle school students wondered aloud about whether I avoid processed foods.
“Yes,” I said, “I try. But I do like some processed food. Didn’t you see me eating that bag of Doritos earlier?”
“I did, but you’re always snacking on, like, bell peppers and healthy food.”
Another student chimed in, wondering why I don’t eat a steady diet of donuts and potato chips if I like them so much. “It’s not like you’d have to worry about getting fat.”
If this were a tv show, you would have heard that sound when the record screeches to a halt; I was a bit at a loss for words. I wondered how to diplomatically shift the conversation away from my physical appearance, or anyone’s physical appearance for that matter. I’ll admit that in my younger years, I may have let my desire to be the “perfect size” influence my eating habits. Thankfully, that’s not my story anymore. I’m much more concerned with how I feel when I eat.
I explained to my student that I don’t eat the foods I eat in order to stay a certain size or to avoid being a certain size — there are so many great reasons to eat healthy foods that have nothing to do with BMI. I eat the foods I eat because I feel better when I do. For me, the equation is pretty simple. More fruits, veggies, whole carbohydrates, and natural protein = more energy, fewer stomach issues, and clear skin. More donuts and Doritos = sluggishness, a grumpy belly, and painful cystic acne. That’s not a difficult equation for me. Donuts and their ilk taste delicious for the half a second it takes me to eat them. But they sure don’t leave me feeling all that great. If I have a choice, I will almost always spend my time chewing something more energy-inducing. When I do reach for the processed foods, it’s usually in small-enough amounts that won’t give me grief.
Really, it all boils down to listening to my body’s subtle cues — to eating what makes me feel vibrant and alive, and eschewing that which makes me feel miserable.
This is why I’m a “healthy eater” and also why I commit myself to practicing yoga. I like feeling good and I dislike feeling bad. Right now at least, that’s my best motivation.