What is Food Freedom?
According to YOU and ME
I use the words "Food Freedom" a lot - in this podcast, on my website, in my program etc. It occurred to me recently that a lot of people in the diet industry use this term as well, but we don't all mean the same thing and we don't all approach achieving this idea the same way.
Out of curiosity I put up a poll on my Instagram stories and in the NNW Community Group to get a take on what YOU guys think of when you hear the term Food Freedom. Thanks BTW to all of you who responded!!
While most of the answers followed a general theme, there were a few I hadn't really thought of, which was awesome!
In this episode I'm going to share the ideas that you all had about Food Freedom and I'll break down MY OWN definition. The way I use, and refer to, Food Freedom has three main pillars:
1. Eating Without Guilt - remove the morality from food, no more food rules about how much or what, getting to the place where you choose healthy food because you genuinely WANT it and not because you SHOULD or HAVE TO, choosing to indulge or pass on food without guilt, shame or FOMO.
2. Mindful Eating - no restriction or bingeing, consciously choosing foods, reconnecting with your bodies innate ability to tell you what it needs, listening to your bodies own cues like hunger and satisfaction, trusting yourself around food.
3. Dietary and Metabolic Flexibility - learning how to eat in a way that your body can function optimally so when you choose to indulge there is really no effect on you physically or mentally, food is enjoyable, satisfying, and there's room for all types of food in your life.
Now, we'll all be on the same page! If you want to know more about how I teach you to achieve Food Freedom for yourself, check out the Healthy Mind/Healthy Body Program. Doors are opening soon so get on the list!
Full transcription available at the bottom of this post
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Welcome back to the podcast. Today we're talking about food freedom. I use the words food freedom a lot in my website and my copy in my programs. And I recently realized that a lot of other people use that term food freedom as well. And some of those people are promoting diets and kind of programs that I definitely would not want to stand behind some things that I really would never recommend to you. So I got really curious about what food freedom means to you all. So I took a poll on Instagram stories, and also in the no nonsense wellness community group, to see what all of you guys thought food freedom meant and what it meant to you, and how you interpreted those words. So today, I'm going to share those insights. And then what I think the three pillars of food freedom are, what food freedom means to me and the way that I use it. Alright, it'll be interesting. Let's go.
Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life in the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I'm on a mission to help you take back control of your mind, health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health, find food freedom, and finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You, my friend, are powerful, and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward.
So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes, let's walk and talk. I loved all the feedback that I got when I asked you guys what food freedom
meant to you. There was definitely a theme to the answers. But a couple of the answers really opened my eyes to some ideas that I was totally missing, like things that I had not even thought of. There is such beauty in the idea that we all see things so differently, and that we all have just such our own perspectives based on our own experiences. I love that we all have different ideas. But when we're talking about something like food freedom, and I'm using that language, I want to make sure that we're all on the same page. So I'm going to talk about some of the different ideas that you guys said that food freedom meant to you. And then what I am meaning are the three pillars of food freedom that I'm talking about when I use those words. So here's some definitions that you guys came up with that I found really interesting. The first one is one that wasn't even on my radar. And that's the idea of food freedom being the ability to grow your own food and being self sufficient in terms of food. And also the idea of not relying on factory farmed food or processed food. Honestly, this was not even on my radar, which is so weird, because it totally makes sense. This definition really opened my eyes to the idea that my perspective is very much from the Western culture when in which I live, this abundance of food right there is always food available to me. But for a lot of people in the world food freedom is not about their relationship to food mentally, it's about literally their ability to get food, the ability to not have to rely on a grocery store or a government to provide food for you being able to provide for yourself. In our Western culture, you might also see this as freedom from industrial food. So free from processed food, a return to whole foods, foods that came from the earth, foods that came from your garden, a local farm, etc. So this idea of food freedom I find really fascinating. And it is actually an important part of the things that we talk about on this podcast with each other and in the community group and in the programs. This idea of being self sufficient in your food, being able to provide food if you had to. And the idea of eating locally and buying from local farms, that kind of thing.
The second idea that a lot of you brought up was food Freedom is the freedom to eat whatever you want and have no physical consequences. I hadn't totally thought of this either. This was not something completely on my radar because again, for me, this is a mindset problem, not a physical problem. Right It was brought up as I Want to eat whatever I want and have no physical consequences? Well, for me, this is not about changing your physiology, because you might not be able to. This is more about changing your mind. So of course, every one of us wants to just eat pizza and ice cream all day and feel amazing and never gain a pound and have tons of energy, and look super hot in a bikini. But like, can we just be honest, that's not real. That's not how your body works. That's not how life works. That's not how any of this works. So, again, I sort of feel like this one is not about like, Oh, don't get mad at your body, because it's not doing what you want it to do. You just keep feeding it pizza, and it just keeps putting on weight, what's wrong with your body? Now, nothing wrong with your body, we've got to fix the mindset that's going along with this.
So instead of wishing for something that will literally never happen, I think it's more important to change our mind about the food. Let me give you an example from my own life. So I've been dairy free for like 15 years, because I'm lactose intolerant. And when I was first discovered that I was lactose intolerant, I was really mad about it, like really mad. Like, I would get super frustrated. Why can't I just be like everyone else? Why can’t I eat cheese, why can't I just do these things that everyone else does. Like my body rejects me. If I eat dairy, my body is very unhappy. So I went through that, again, about 10 years ago, when I stopped eating gluten. Same situation, I was super pissed, because why can't I just eat gluten? Why can't my body just be normal? Why can't it just work like everybody else's? I was really, really mad at my body. Because it wasn't doing what I thought was a normal thing to do to digest gluten digest dairy, right? I was not in a position where I could say, oh, I wish I could just eat whatever I want. And there'll be no physical consequences. My reality is was and still is, there are physical consequences for certain things that I eat. I had to change my mind about what I was eating and how it was affecting my body. The only way that I could move forward from that mentality was to change my mind.
I had to train myself to understand what a privilege it was that I got to choose foods that were good for me and that kept my body from becoming sick. I had to completely reframe the whole thing. Instead of being mad about what I can't do, and I can't do and I can't do. I had to change that mindset to be excited about and thankful for, and blessed to understand how to feed and nourish my body in the healthiest way. And that is how I deal with that my husband still to this day is like oh my gosh, I might die if I couldn't eat cheese. I don't miss it. It's not a thing for me. It's honestly not even a thought that I have anymore. Because early on, not early enough on but earlier on. I figured out that the only way to move on from this was to accept it. I can't eat dairy. End of story. Can I move on with my life? Right? I can't sit in this spot anymore of just being mad about the fact that I can't eat this and can't eat that. Let's just accept it and move on. So for me again, this one is really a mindset problem, not a physical problem.
The other idea that people brought up about what they thought was food freedom, is the idea of not thinking about food so much. Now this is an idea that I am definitely on board with this is kind of where my mind goes to when I think about food freedom. Just the idea of no longer obsessing about food. It's not this constant thing that's weighing on you like should I eat this? Should I eat that? Should I not eat this? Should I not eat that? What's it going to do? How many calories is how many macros is it? What's the count? Does this fit in my macro thing? Like, right? It's like all the thoughts we have about food, what the goal would then be in food freedom is just the idea that if you feel hungry, you eat food, you stop eating food when you're full. You don't think about food again until you feel hungry again, then you decide if you're going to eat again. And you eat again. Stop when you're full. Only thinking about food when you're thinking about what do I want to eat? Okay, make that eat that now I'm done thinking about food. That's to me the ideal, that's how it should be, that's what we're working towards. Instead, most of us are constantly thinking about whether I should have eaten that I shouldn't have eaten that. Why did I eat that? Why am I eating this right now? Like we're all very much thinking about food all the time. What your ideal would be is like when you were a toddler when you were a toddler you got hungry you ate you were done. You didn't think about food again until you started eating a lot of sugar as a kid and then you were thinking about sugar and what the snacks and treats that you wanted like all the time right? So maybe sugar is something we should probably address. It is definitely something we should address for another day. So What we're talking about here is just food not taking up so much mental energy on a daily basis. That is, for me one of the ideas of food freedom for sure.
The other thing that you guys talked about, this was kind of a common theme as well as the last one is not feeling guilty when you eat, not eating a cookie and not feeling guilty about it. I'm totally on board with this idea to food should not have that kind of power over us food should not be able to elicit guilt or stress in us, we give food way too much power, we give it way too much of our energy, we give it way too much of our thought time, we put food in way too powerful of a position we give food, morality, good food, bad food. So this idea of not feeling guilty. When we eat something, definitely one of the pillars I think of as food freedom.
So let's talk about what those pillars of food freedom are. So again, this is just according to Tara, there is no definition, there's no accepted definition of food freedom. Lots of people use this term, lots of people in the kind of diet industry use this term. And again, I'm going to tell you that a lot of people will use this term, why I want to help you get food freedom, and then they will prescribe you this very regimented and restrictive diet. Those two things are 100% contradictory in my world, food freedom is not following a prescriptive diet. Period. That is not food freedom, any diet out there that is restricting how much you eat or what you eat, and not leaving it up to your own choice that you want to add this in or not add this in. That is not food freedom. Now I get a lot of pushback on this, especially because those who teach you how to count macros are going to say, Yeah, you totally have food freedom, of course, because you can eat whatever you want, as long as it fits in your macros. My point of contention is fitting in your macros, quote, unquote, is an artificial parameter that you are putting on the food that you eat. What I teach is how to live your life so that you don't need artificial parameters. To understand your body to understand how it works, understand your relationship with food to go dig in a lot deeper on all of this. Food freedom to me is not needing those artificial parameters. Does that make sense? Okay, let me step down from my soapbox here for a second. Again, if you love counting macros, if you love the Whole 30, whatever more power to you, if you want to do those things. Awesome. I'm not going to stop you from doing them if that's what you enjoy. But the key is, do you enjoy it? Do you feel like it offers you food freedom? That's the important question to be asking yourself. Okay, back to where I was going with this whole thing.
The three pillars of food freedom, according to the world of Tara. Okay, the first one is eating without guilt. So removing that morality from food, there is no such thing as good food, bad food, we don't have any more food rules. We don't do any more strict diets, there is no more all or nothing thinking like if I mess up, everything's done it completely have to start over. Not on board with that. When you're eating without guilt, when you have achieved this kind of idea of food freedom, you are able to indulge in things that you want intentionally and pass on things intentionally. We give you an example of what that sounds like. So when you have food freedom, you can say yes to date night, and you can drink that wine and you can eat that rich, delicious food. And you don't have one ounce of guilt about eating that amazing meal at that fancy restaurant that you got to go to with your spouse or whomever you can say yes to the birthday cake without feeling guilty. And without feeling bad and, and not worrying about if it fits in your diet or whatever. Conversely, you are also able to say no to things. I'm saying no to that doughnut in the break room, I am saying no to those cookies in the pantry not because I feel like I have to or because I feel like I should. But because I genuinely don't want it. I genuinely am making the conscious choice to say you know what, I don't really want to eat that it's not fitting in with what I'm trying to do right now. And I don't need it. That to me, is food freedom. I really want that to sink in for you for a second. The ability to choose to indulge or the ability to choose to pass on something not because either one of those things are what you feel like you should be doing or have to be doing or how to fit it into a diet. But because that's genuinely what you want. It's genuinely what makes you mentally and physically feel good. Does that make sense? It's a way different way to look at this.
And so I really I know sometimes it's hard to wrap your head around like terror is that even possible yes, of course it's possible. The other aspect of this is living in a positive and judgment free relationship with food, you don't need some arbitrary standard of what quote unquote perfect eating is, you are not a good or bad person because of what you ate. Again, food does not have morality and your morality is not based on food. You can eat what you want, don't eat what you want. And it does not make you a good or bad person. It's just a choice that you make. Let me give you an example for my kids. For my kids growing up, one thing that really always bothered me, is when I would hear parents say things like, You're naughty, you're a bad kid. And I always really wanted to make sure that my kids understood that they are absolutely good. They are absolutely good kids, maybe they just made a really bad choice. I separate the morality of who they are from the choice that they made. And I do that consciously and purposely, and I've done it their whole life. And the reason I do that is because I want them to grow up into adults who can do that as well. Yes, I am a good person. I love myself, I love other people, I made a crappy choice, I can separate that choice from who I am as a person. Does that make sense? I can separate the idea that oh my gosh, I totally just binge ate stress, ate the whole bag of cookies in the pantry, I did it again, I can separate that action. From who I see myself as Does that make sense? That is food freedom, being able to separate those two, that does not come easily. That comes with a lot of work and a lot of help coaching, training, there's a lot of tools and skills that kind of can help you move in that direction. And those are all the things that I like to focus on. But it's absolutely possible. So I want to just put it out there for you to think about, like, what would it feel like to actually have that to actually achieve that to actually go eat that cookie and still love yourself? Amazing, right?
Okay, so the second pillar of Tara's definition of food freedom is mindful eating. So mindful eating is this idea of again, making conscious choices about food. So I'm not restricting food. I'm not bingeing on food. Again, there's no things that are off limits. There's just things that I choose and not choose. I am cultivating self trust around food, I am learning the ability to trust myself around food. Now a lot of us are in a position where we don't trust ourselves around food, we feel like if I put that piece of cake on my plate, then I will have more and then I'll have more and then I'll have more. We don't trust that we can stop. We don't trust our choices of food. Oh, is this? Is this what I'm supposed to be eating? What am I supposed to be eating? Oh my gosh, I just ruined my diet. Did I just break this thing like we don't trust that we can stop. We don't trust that what we're doing is right. And so to me, this mindful eating idea within food freedom is being able to cultivate that self trust around food, creating healthy conscious choices and habits about food, being able to honor your hunger and your fullness. You don't have to track and count stuff or have, like I said, these artificial boundaries or parameters around food. If you can learn how to listen to and tune into your body, and what it needs and what it's asking for. And having an understanding of that, then you can mindfully make conscious choices about what you're giving it. Does that make sense?
Like I don't need to tell you and if you join my programs, that's one of the things I get asked a lot. And it's a no for me every time do I get meal plans? Do I get this kind of plan or that kind of plan? No, I am not going to tell you what to eat every day. In fact, you are going to tell you what to eat every day. That is literally the point. If I tell you if I give you a meal plan, if I tell you eat this for breakfast, eat this for lunch, eat this for dinner, here's your recipe. What have you learned, you haven't learned to listen to your body, you've only learned to stick to this plan that I gave you well what happens when the plan is over? Mindful eating and food freedom is teaching you how to create your own plan, how to listen to your own body, how to make your own conscious choices based on what your body needs, based on your emotional state, your physical state and how to decipher the difference between those two. Like these are skills that hardly any of us have. But we all need to learn. So again, food freedom to me is the goal not sticking to this plan, not sticking to these numbers, but understanding my own body and what it needs and how to give it what it needs. And then slowly over time making these choices that are leading to me leading me to my health goals, my weight loss goals, whatever it is that you're working on.
The third area of my definition of food freedom is the area of dietary and metabolic flexibility. And this is kind of an area, I think it's overlooked a lot. A lot of times when we're talking about food freedom, we're talking about the idea of what's happening in your brain. And this has a lot to do with what's happening in your body, also your brain, but a lot more with your body as well. So this is again, an element of food freedom, I think it's overlooked a lot. It's the idea that you can eat food that is enjoyable and satisfying, the idea that you can eat things that you like, that there's room for all types of food in your life. And in moderation, you can have really whatever. And food freedom then would sort of be this idea that moderation actually feels good, moderation feels right, you don't ever feel restricted, because when we feel restricted, then we move to binge behavior. And again, that's where a lot of us have been for a really long time, it's not healthy for us mentally and not healthy for us physically. So the idea of dietary and metabolic flexibility as again, not that you can just eat like, I can't just because oh, I want to eat things that make me feel good, let's eat some cheese. Nope, I cannot do that. Like I physically cannot eat the cheese. So part of it is overcoming those ideas like I was talking about before, but then the other part of it is, you can train your body to function more properly, that can happen. And that is, to me, an element of food freedom. If your body is functioning properly, it can handle all types of food, and it won't affect your weight negatively, and it won't affect your health negatively.
Let me give you an example. If in general, I'm eating food that I enjoy, it's satisfying to me, but it's also providing me health, it's what my body needs, I'm getting good nutrients, and I'm getting good protein and carbohydrates, and fats, and all the micronutrients that I need, right I'm I can add in, I can eat the cake, that doesn't, it's not gonna affect me at all, my body can process it, it's no big deal totally fine. You know, I can go out to a fancy dinner and eat all the rich food and drink all the wine and it's not gonna affect me, I might not feel super great the next day. But in the long run, my body can handle it, and it's totally fine. So food freedom is also getting your body to a point where it's functioning well, so that when you do choose to indulge in things, you can do that. And there is just like literally no effect on how your body is functioning, your body is always able to come back to that balance and moderation point, this idea of diet and metabolic flexibility is eating generally in a way that serves your body so that when you intentionally choose the donut, or the cake, or the rich dinner, your body handles it and it's no big deal. And so that comes from really understanding your body and how it works and why it's not working the way it should be.
So you've probably noticed that all of these things are things that we talk about on this program. This is like the focus really right of what we always talk about this mind and body connection, like that's my gym, that's where I'm at. And so food freedom is the same for me, it's this mind body connection, getting them both working optimally. And again, I feel like I need to reiterate, there is no real diet program. Like when I say diet, I mean like that prescribed program like eat this not that eat this, much of this, and this much of that those kinds of diets are not really geared toward helping you achieve those three pillars that we just talked about. That's not their point, right? Their diets are generally good at getting you the result that they say you're going to get right, lose 10 pounds in 90 days following this exact meal plan, it probably works, you probably will lose that weight in 90 days. But you have not achieved this idea of food freedom because of that, does that make sense? Food freedom is a process. It is a commitment. It doesn't mean it has to take a super long time. But let's be honest, if it took you 20 plus years to develop all these unhelpful ideas about food, and these unhelpful habit patterns and thought patterns and behavior patterns about food, it's gonna take you a while to undo them. Like we have to be willing to go through the process. And that's a process that kind of evolves over time. And that process needs to involve your mind, understanding your mind, understanding your thoughts, understanding your relationship with food, the history of your dieting, understanding your body, how it works, how foods affect it, how your mind and body work together. Like we got to look at the total package. You're looking at the relationships in your life and how they're affecting your health. You got to look at the stress levels in your life and how that's affecting your health, your water, your sleep, like all the things you can't just piecemeal this and like we talked about in the last episode, expect that if Oh, I'm just only changing the food I'm eating And then everything else will change to that's not how this works. So food freedom is just this idea.
Again, to recap, according to the world of Tara, the three pillars of food freedom are eating without guilt, mindful eating, and dietary and metabolic flexibility. If that sounds good to you, keep on listening, because that's what we talked about here, hop in the hop in the group, I want to be able to help you move in this direction. That's literally like what I'm here for. I really want you to achieve this idea of food freedom and do it in a way that's lasting that fits in your life that works for you that you can do forever. So if any of that sounds good to you, scroll through the show notes. You can check out the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program, helping the community group and be a part of that. Or just DM me and reach out to me and ask me some questions. Okay, my friend
until we talk again, be well
Hey, friends, thanks so much for being here. If you found value in today's episode, will you do me a favor and head over to iTunes? Find the no nonsense wellness podcast and subscribe and leave me a review. It would mean the world to me and it helps other people find the show. And I'd love to connect with you more. So find me on Instagram I'm @tarafaulmann. Take a screenshot of this episode and share it in your stories and tag me. I'll see you over there.