This is a magnet I have on my refrigerator – always makes me laugh. My daughter bought it for me after I mentioned how much I loved it. It just brings to mind how people can appear to have everything under control, while in reality they are on high alert, constantly readjusting to keep from losing balance. When a good friend recently mentioned her constant inner turmoil, I noted, “Hmm, I’m so surprised! You always seem so calm.”
She laughed and clarified, “Yeah, I’m always trying to keep it together, but I’m really like a duck floating peacefully along the water, while under the surface my little legs are paddling wildly.” I imagine that’s something like what the dog in the picture would be feeling – if it were not the highly photoshopped image it has to be.
Balance is tricky. On a bike, in the work-life arena, and certainly with food choices. In deciding what to eat – mindfully or by habit – we are always trying to balance our desire to be healthy with the the drive to meet other needs. Failing to acknowledge the importance of pleasure, emotional management, and the reality of everyday life demands can cause any eating plan to spin out of control, no matter how nutritionally sound it may be.
So what is the point I’m making? Whether we know it or not, we are always trying to balance more than nutrients when we choose our food. Just as a person can eat too few calories to satisfy hunger, it is also possible to go below your personal pleasure level by eating so “clean” that eating becomes dull and boring (A plain grilled chicken breast, steamed broccoli, and a salad with a splash of lemon juice is not easy to eat time after time after time . . . ).
While managing emotions with food is never the best solution, all of us will eat for emotional reasons sometimes. Balancing emotions in general, therefore, becomes a part of the overall balancing act; we need options other than food to manage difficult emotions. Then, and only then, will the minimum amount of emotional eating – your balancing point – be possible.
The last point of balance I want to mention is real life – yours! You have schedule demands, your own level of cooking skill, your current level of commitment to health, other family members and friends you eat with, etc. These will all affect how much time you spend shopping and preparing food, as well as what you will eat. If it isn’t realistic, you simply won’t do it, not for very long any way. Accept this and do the best you can while balancing with other factors.
Putting It All Together – Keeping the Dog Upright!
The point where all of these factors come together will be individual as well as situational. You are unique, and each moment presents unique challenges and opportunities. Accept your current hunger level, desire for certain flavors, emotional state, and life situation. Your healthiest choice will come from a mindful, kind look at all of these. Do the best you can without overthinking, and then move on. There will always be opportunities to readjust if balance starts to waver. This is the best way to avoid a total wipe-out!