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New Blog Series! Wellness Wednesday: the 5 Food Rules I Follow

A new blog series on Ambitious Kitchen: Wellness Wednesday! These 5 food rules to follow encourage you to snack smart, stay hydrated, and more.

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Rainbow salad in a cardboard container

I’ve wanted to start the Wellness Wednesday blog series for quite some time. Being that Ambitious Kitchen is a health-focused food blog, I think it’s important to not only provide you with mostly clean eating based recipes, but also chat about exercise, nutrition and tips for staying healthy in a very diet confusing society. Let’s face it, there’s nearly a new ‘diet’ or health food trend to try every month. It can be difficult to try and determine what’s best for you.

To be completely transparent with you, I’ll admit that I’ve tried nearly every diet out there. For nearly all of my life I’ve struggled with my weight and with food issues. Like I’ve said many times before, I am the girl who is completely in love with food. I think about it all the time. I dream about it. It is my passion, where I am the most creative and also a place that can consume me.

Thin slip of paper with a quote on it

I really wasn’t comfortable talking about my food issues until this past year. I felt ashamed and embarrassed and like no one would understand what it was like, but in reality there are many people out there who experience unhealthy relationships with food. My struggle is/was with body image issues; I didn’t know how to balance what is good nutritionally versus indulging. I would eat incredibly healthy and then go overboard in the foods that I wouldn’t let myself have (like cookies). This crazy food addition and cycle turned emotionally destructive.

After writing this blog for three years, I realize that I’m not experiencing this alone! Many of you have emailed me to share your food and body image struggles; know that I understand how difficult it can get sometimes and SO appreciate this online community where we can all support each other. I hope that this new blog series will inspire, uplift and comfort you. I hope that we can truly be open here, learn from one another and inspire each other by sharing stories.

Two pieces of toast on a plate with a banana

Now obviously we all have our bad eating days. You know, the days where you overindulge. Most of the time this happens because you either aren’t eating enough or you’re waiting too long between meals. It leads to our eyes becoming bigger than our stomachs and because we get so hungry, our bodies are screaming FEED ME ALL THING THINGS.

In general, it’s very difficult to strike a balanced eating approach. It takes dedication and work but I’m here to tell you that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. That has always been my mentality and it has helped me get through some of the biggest obstacles in life.

Just last year, I found it difficult to have a cookie without feeling like I ruined my ‘diet’ for the day. I would feel defeated and either exercise and not eat properly after, or keep overindulging in sweets because I felt as though everything was over for the day ‘diet wise’. For me, it was all or nothing. This type of thinking wasn’t healthy nor was it beneficial to my body or my happiness.

Monique holding a piece of toast with peanut butter

After some time, I started listening to my body and began to work on my anxiety and stress levels. I told myself that if I wanted a cookie, then I would eat a cookie. I also stopped making rules for myself for what I could or couldn’t have later in the day. I quit labeling things off limits. Over the course of 4 months, I was able to lose 15 pounds (we’ll chat more about how I did that in another post). I am happier, healthier and have a better attitude towards many things. Above all, I have confidence and feel more in control of my life.

My first step towards a balanced approach to eating was to create some food and lifestyle choices for myself. I want to share them with you because I truly believe that they have helped me to become a healthier person – both inside and out. I’m not afraid of judgment but rather I hope to continue to share my story with you in hopes that you’ll find some inspiration too.

A hand holding two bananas

Here are five rules I try to consistently live by when it comes to food. These have helped me during my weight loss ups and downs, but most of all they help me to stay balanced.

Don’t label foods off limits. It’s hard to believe but labeling a certain food off limits can actually sabotage your diet and put you at risk for disordered eating. Denying yourself the foods you love actually will cause you to crave more of them. I did this for a while with peanut butter because I thought I was eating too much of it. The next time I bought it, I ate half of the jar in two days because I didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying it for quite some time. If you love a certain food, then it’s okay to indulge in it every once in a while. Usually I eat small amount of peanut butter every night before bed. It’s a treat to myself and I feel satisfied knowing that I can have it. My advice is that if you LOVE a food, then enjoy it every once in a while. We all deserve a treat now and then, right?

Always, always eat breakfast. There are so many reasons to enjoy a good breakfast in the morning. It jump starts your metabolism and keeps it going all day long. Skipping breakfast can increase your chance of binging or eating more later in the day. Even if you aren’t hungry, eat something small like an apple with peanut butter or yogurt and fruit. I used to skip breakfast but every time I did I realized that I was more likely to reach for treats later in the day or eat really late at night. I also felt incredibly hungry the rest of the evening, like I could never get enough food. These days I usually enjoy eggs and toast or a protein shake made with banana, protein powder and almond milk. I also really love oatmeal and healthy muffins. I think it’s important to have a breakfast that you look forward to so make sure you are eating the things you love.

Eat every 2-3 hours and snack smart. Chances are if you’re eating a meal between 300-500 calories, you’re going to be hungry again in a few hours. It’s important to snack to keep your body energized and to prevent your blood sugar from dropping so that you’re not starving to the point where you want to eat everything in the fridge. If you do plan to snack every few hours (which you should), I suggest always including a fruit or a veggie and pairing it with some sort of protein. Try carrots + hummus, apples + peanut butter, trail mix or even a small sweet potato topped with a bit of yogurt. Trust me, you’ll start noticing the difference.

Drink water with every meal. I know this might seem silly, but trust me it works! You’d be surprised at how much water you need to drink during the day. I remember I only used to drink a glass in the morning then wait until the afternoon to have another one. No wonder I felt hungry all the time; I was actually dehydrated and didn’t know it. Drinking water also helps to flush your body of toxins and increases fluid movement. You’ll have more energy, clearer skin and feel more satisfied. If you don’t like drinking water then try doing it through a straw, this always helps me drink more!

Know that you can only do so much. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to lose weight or to exercise but we also need to know where to draw the line. We can’t always do it all; none of us are perfect. Know that it is okay to take a few days off of working out or that if you want to indulge at a restaurant every once in a while, that’s perfectly fine too. As humans, we are so much more than what we eat or what we look like on the outside. The pressure and anxiety of trying to be perfect can eat you alive, so tread carefully. Take it one day at a time. And stop putting a timeline on things like losing weight. The best you can do is to work towards your goals, eat healthy, and remember to live a little.

Monique outside with headphones in

I’m curious what has helped you eat or live balanced? Do you have any tips to share? If so, leave a comment! I’d really love to hear from you. Thank you for listening to my story!

I’ll be back next week with a new health-focused post for Wellness Wednesday. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your week! xoxo

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