With it’s big frothy head and it’s rich caramel colors, beer is just delicious! For years I tried to tell myself otherwise. Beer was ranked high on my “no-no” list of things I allowed myself to eat or drink.
Too many carbs!
Too much bloating!
It will give me a beer belly!
It takes too many to even get a good buzz from!
Too many wasted calories!
Always on a diet, I made sure anything I drank with alcohol had the least amount of carbs, sugar and calories as humanly possible. That is, until my body got fed up with never having anything other than vegetables and chicken in it. Then, all hell would break lose. The cravings would start. Sometimes it was from predictable things like getting my period, other times it was something totally random. The smell of BBQ coming from a neighbor’s grill. The hot summer sun warming my shoulders as I sat outside watching my boys play in the backyard. My belly would tell my mind, “It is a good day for a beer.”
Mmmm. I would think for a brief moment. Then the diet/health “logic” would come in. The rigidness of my restricted eating would bellow loudly “Forget it, girl. We don’t do beer.”
I remember driving myself crazy for months with the craving for a giant bacon cheese burger, bistro fries and a tall pint of I.P.A. I found strength in my ability to resist that craving. I gathered pride from my major accomplishment of will power.
I will never surrender, you obnoxious craving. Be gone, you satanic ghoul from hell! You come only to tempt me and destroy me. I will not be so foolish as to hand over my control to you. I will not be controlled by food. I will sustain my will power.
Boy, did I have it all wrong.
Resisting our cravings, refusing to eat or drink things we like for fear of weight gain, avoiding with all our strength temptation; none of these are examples of being in control of food. On the contrary, they are examples of food being in control of us. They showcase not an ability to handle food wisely, but a fear so strong of our over indulging in food that we must banish any that we have decided may cause this.
That is exactly what I was doing. I avoided because I feared it. I worried what one stupid beer would do to my number on the scale the next day. I worried that if I indulged in the beer and the burger, I would lose all other control of my choices and end up binging for a week straight. I was nervous that giving in to the temptation was a sign of weakness on my part. That I was less than what I had been working so hard to build myself up to be; a person with utter and total control over what she eats. An example of fitness and good health. My worth rode almost entirely on that ideal.
The absurdity of this is that I was building myself into what I actually feared!
Food restriction did not make me powerful, it made me weak. It did not make me a smarter eater, it made me a more fearful one. Though I thought I was so empowered by always going for the “healthy” choices, I was really enslaved by them. Shame and guilt held a noose around my neck. Any “wrong” choice and I was hung out to dry, my foundation for perfection and achievement in all things health and body kicked out from under me.
You get the foundation kicked out from you enough times and eventually you realize you might need a stronger one to stand on. When I finally let go and put trust back into myself by refusing to follow what diet culture had told me and instead, loving myself and listening to my bodies needs, that is when the most powerful transformation began to occur in me. I let go of food rules. I stopped believing the absurd lie that I was either “eating well” or “eating bad” and began to embrace the fact that I just ate. Once I made choices based off what were kind, loving and nourishing for me instead of what were going to get me to hit my macros, remain under a certain amount of carbs or make me lose ten pounds in two weeks, food began to lose it’s power over me. The kind thing was not to deprive, it was to encourage enjoyment of all foods with zero judgement on myself.
Today, I am back to drinking beer. Bringing something I had once enjoyed but for so long avoided back in to my life was huge! It felt like I had given myself a super amazing gift. The gift of love and grace. It feels soooo good! Much better than it ever did when I restricted myself from it. When I finally began to stop punishing myself for not living up to my absurd food and body standards (which I help myself to do everyday through prayer, self-compassion and abundant grace) I started to open my fridge and cabinets up to many more of my “no-no” foods. I practiced eating them. I made notes of how I felt before I ate them and after. I tuned in to what prompted me to want them in the first place. I refused to let shame or guilt have any role in how I felt about my body or what I put in my mouth.
The first few nights of beer back in my house, I drank a six pack each night! Totally not surprised by that one. Binges are bound to happen when we start allowing ourselves what we have told ourselves we do not deserve to have. The good news…if we hang in and keep working through our beautiful mess, the balance comes.
By day four, I didn’t even feel like having a single beer. Now, I drink beer whenever I feel like it. I drink the number that I have discovered makes me feel happy and satisfied without waking up all gross and bloated. Best of all, I drink it in total freedom! My mirror or my scale are no longer a form of self-brutality in order to give penance for my “bad” choice.
This is hard work. No doubt about it. A relationship with out guilt and shame, fear and self-doubt with food and my body still scares the heck out of me at times. I still struggle with my balance and my peace. That struggle however, is one I would chose a million times over the one that used to rule my life. The one that told me I was fat. I was unworthy. I needed to eat better. I should exercise more. I can’t be trusted to eat yummy, tempting things. I was a failure for giving in to temptation. I had no will power for allowing myself to eat outside my meal plan. My body is something to be ashamed of and not to be trusted.
A healthy change in your eating patterns, your body and your mind is totally attainable. You can live a life where beer is a part of it. You can enjoy a summer filled with ice cream and full-sugared lemonade. You can bring cake into your house and not think twice about even eating it! You can see healthy changes in your body without depriving it. You can fully trust yourself around food. You can do all that because you darn well deserve that in your life. So, go get it girl!