Creating Healthy Boundaries with Food
“No" is a complete sentence.” -Anne Lamott
While completing a form at a doctor’s office recently, I noticed a curious question pop up – “Do you have any dietary restrictions?” In my earlier life, I wouldn’t have thought twice about saying no. But now as a nutritionist, living an acne-free life free from any inflammatory skin conditions, I saw this question in a totally new light.
Since eight out of the 10 leading causes of death in the US1 are linked to dietary choices2, I would be highly concerned as a doctor if someone left this field blank. In our world where one can eat literally anything left to our wildest imagination, living without boundaries is highly likely to lead to health issues - and the skin is one of the first ways these issues show up.
Words have energy. And the words “dietary restriction” to me has an authoritarian energy of being confined and told what to do. No wonder many people don’t want to have "restrictions" - I don’t either! So I don’t. But what I do have is boundaries, which have been foundational to my health and wellbeing.
As Iyanla Vanzant says, “when we don’t create boundaries, the people in our life run amuck!” We need boundaries in our relationships, in our work, and in this society we also need it in our diet. In order to be socially responsible human beings, we need to decide what we are willing to say no to or the greater good of our health, our society, and for the planet. We need to examine and create our own personal set of boundaries if we wish to live a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy life.
In my earlier life, I lived without any real boundaries. I ate crossaints and frappuccinos for breakfast, french fries for lunch, fast food for dinner. I felt like absolute garbage. I hated being in my body, I was depressed, my skin looked like s#%$ - on the daily. For me, this was no way to live. A life without boundaries allowed everything to run amuk in my life and I was deeply unhappy inside and out because of that.
Chances are, you have already unknowingly created some food boundaries in your life. Like choosing not to eat french toast every day for breakfast, knowing that ice cream is not dinner, or not to have a whole bottle of wine to yourself. This is just going a step further to say, what do I want my health to be, what are my personal food boundaries, and how can I make that work in this society.
In learning to live a healthy, clear skin life, I’ve found it important to go deeper than just skipping Haagen-Daas for supper. I observe my daily eating habits and take control of what goes into my body. My goals everyday are to have clear skin, eat healthy + delicious food, and feel great after my meals. I have chosen to be plant-based and eat locally grown produce. I do not eat any cow’s milk products. I do not eat land animals or fish (mostly because of the farming practices in the US). I limit my added sugar to a little simple syrup in my almond milk latte and dark chocolate. Each of my meals are abundant with fresh vegetables.
Here are some questions to think about regarding your personal food boundaries:
• do you feel great in your body everyday? how do you want to feel?
• what are your health goals?
• what in your life is not serving or supporting you in your ultimate happiness and wellbeing?
• what food group primary fills your plate? (i.e., plants, vegetables, fruit, local produce, organic, grass-fed, carbs + meat, whatever is convenient, etc.)
• where can you make space to spend time and conscious energy on eating well?
• do you consider your health when eating out or do you mostly eat for pleasure?
• what food groups do you consciously choose not to eat in support of your health? (i.e. fast food, processed foods, dairy, cows milk, added sugar, desserts, animal products, factory farmed meat, alcohol). If the answer is none, in my opinion this is worth exploring.
• what boundaries are you willing to create today to support your health and wellbeing?
Food boundaries are about focusing on your long-term health goals (healthy skin, toned body, health and longevity) and creating daily practice that supports that. While you are creating this for yourself, it may be wise not to share your process with other people. Some will understand, but many others will not. It is prudent to keep your work on the inside, otherwise you become open to scrutiny and feeling self-conscious around a part of your life that is learning and blossoming.
You don’t have to ever again feel “restricted” by food. Instead live on your own conscious credo of health. I hope this is a beginning or a continuation of the creation of your personal boundaries with food and your in life.
Elise May, CN + LE, is the owner and practitioner behind SKINutritious. She has helped over 1,200 clients clear acne with detoxing treatments, holistic coaching, and botanical skincare.
Work with Elise. Book online here.