I recently came back from an amazing 10-day trip in Israel. Israel is my other home, so there is a lot of sentimental value there in everything I do, but one thing that connects me to the country the most is the food.
The food is Israel is ridiculously delicious. It can also be a bit heavy (eating a pita filled with shawarma, hummus, and veggies is amazing but definitely sits in your stomach for a while) - which is why it was so important for me to find a sweet balance between enjoying my favorite foods and also focus on feeling optimal physically so that I wouldn’t have to go through my days feeling weighed down or lethargic from eating heavily. I wanted to be super present during my short 10 days there and I knew that feeling my physical best would make this so much easier.
I never could’ve known how to even begin navigating this balance if I hadn’t spent so much time in my life previously experimenting with what foods my body does and doesn’t like, how much feels good to her, and generally letting go of all of my food rules. I had a major list of what I was allowed to eat and not allowed to eat, when I was supposed to eat, how much during which meals, and when I was allowed to binge.
Being in a new environment, like while traveling, usually started off with my “food rules” being super strict … and then eventually led me to saying “fuck it” and throwing all my rules out the window and basically being on a full-blown sugar binge until I was back to restricting once I got back home.
Once I started to do the work of healing my relationship to food, I had to allow my “rules” to soften. I had to be humble and admit that maybe my body knew better than I did. Maybe I wanted to eat a bigger dinner portion than I was allowing myself. Maybe my body actually wanted meat. Maybe I wasn’t intolerant to dairy and I was actually just afraid of eating it, even though my body was craving it.
Letting go of restriction is always the first step in finding freedom with food.
SO… back to my magical foodie time in Israel.
I’ll give you a specific example of when I was really conscious food freedom: I was walking through the shuk (market) in Jerusalem with some friends when we passed by my favorite rugelach bakery. Rugelach is a pastry of wrapped dough and usually chocolate, and this spot in the Jerusalem shuk is famous for it’s seriously melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I definitely wanted to get some but also wanted to be conscious of how I was feeling and how eating all the sugar would make me feel. Because I’ve allowed myself to experiment with sugar in the past, I know that my body can handle sugar but not too much or else I’ll feel groggy and my digestion gets funky. So in that moment, standing in front of the bakery smelling the deliciousness of the pastries, I decided to get 2 small pieces of rugelach and savour them. I actually stood on the street corner with my friends and was practically moaning as I bit into my dessert. I was immediately flooded with happy memories of being in Jerusalem and eating these pastries countless times with other loved ones. I allowed this to be an emotional, delicious experience and not a shameful one where I had to shove the food in my mouth just to get rid of it. It was just me, loving on my food, and allowing it to love me back and provide me with comfort and happiness.
Because I savoured them so much, I felt satisfied with my 2 pieces of dessert and told my friend that she could eat the rest of what we had picked up. Telling someone, “I’m full - you have the rest” is something I NEVER would’ve done years ago. I would’ve thought to myself, “If I’m gonna eat this, I better eat it all. No sharing. That way, I can get my fix before starting over on my clean eating tomorrow”.
This time, things are so different. I know that I’m allowed to eat delicious sugary chocolatey goodies anytime I want, so I don’t need to binge eat them all in one sitting. I also have a renewed reverence for my body and my life experience. I want to be fully present and not hide behind the shield of a bloated tummy and self-hatred after a binge.
If you’re traveling and feeling nervous about how you’re “supposed” to eat while you’re away from the safety of your kitchen and routine of normal foods, just know that eating foreign foods should be FUN, not scary. Enjoy the process of it. And love yourself and your body through every part of your trip. Thank your body for digesting all of your food, even if you’re overeating or eating foods that don’t make your body feel so good.
Again, this new way of thinking that I’ve developed over the last couple years never could’ve happened had I not let go of my food rules. It’s taken patience and experimentation and willingness to do things differently. But the payoff has been beautiful; a totally new way of eating and living with food. Food is no longer scary, frustrating, or the center of my life. It’s nourishing, FUN, and a way to experience added joy to my day.
If you want in on this type of being with food, set up a quick chat with me here to see how we can make this possible for you.