One thing I’ve realized through working with clients of all ages who have a variety of eating habits is that we ALL have food rules that we follow.  Some people eschew meat and dairy. Some people avoid carbs. Some people are protein-fanatics. Some people only eat carbs. Some people go out of their way to eat ‘superfoods’…. you get the picture.  We all have some rules.

Back in the day, I had a LOT of rules and it made the act of eating a constant struggle. I *wanted* the amazing-looking pasta dish, but I was avoiding carbs! I *wanted* a slice of banana cream pie to share with my girlfriends, but I was avoiding sugar! Eating turned into a show of willpower and I always felt like I was struggling with what I should be eating, instead of what I wanted to eat.

It was only after months and months of learning how to create healthy, whole foods-based meals that I was able to move away from the should mentality. It was YEARS before I realized I could safely enjoy the foods I wanted to splurge on–without feeling any guilt. Today my rules are more positive and much less specific:  I try to have vegetables with every meal. I try not to eat gluten because I’m allergic, but I also realize that I’m bound to slip sometimes. I try to eat my dinner early in the evening, but sometimes my busy life doesn’t allow for that.

That’s it. More vegetables, less gluten, all eaten earlyish if possible.

Since figuring this out, eating has become an entirely different experience for me. I don’t stress nearly as often (though I do have my moments, as do we all), I focus more on being present during the meal, and I actually take pleasure in what I’m eating.

So: what are your food rules? What are the foods you consider to be ‘good’ and those that are ‘bad? I’d love to hear your thoughts.