Diet culture is so prevalent in our society that we often feel guilty for nourishing our bodies, especially when we “indulge” in our favorite foods. However, dieting to obtain a “perfect body” should not be our be-all, end-all. In the spirit of repelling diet culture, here are eight body-positive food rules that will let you guiltlessly savor all of your favorite foods.
1. Choose whatever snacks you want…
Because snickerdoodles are delicious, hummus is heavenly, and flavor-blasted Goldfish? They taste like those good old moments between college studying (and crying) sessions.
2. …Even if everyone else you know is eating “healthier” than you.
You may ask yourself if you really want to fuel your body with cookies when your friends are munching on carrots and apples. But hey, you’re practicing self-love by choosing exactly what you want… and you’re probably having more fun, too.
3. If you finish your meal before everyone else, engage in conversation.
That moment when you’ve cleaned your plate and your friends are still chowing down is just as awkward as when everyone’s singing “Happy Birthday” to you… but with no cake in sight. What the heck should you do? Join in on the conversation! Amuse everyone with a funny story, insert your unpopular movie opinions, chime in with your most embarrassing moment — you name it, it’s fair game!
4. Try new food combinations.
Do you eat your cereal dry every morning because you think adding milk makes it too soggy to be edible? Get brave, and try it out again (but maybe with a little less milk this time). Add new ingredients to your go-to sauces, dip your fries in your milkshake, try fruits you never would have thought would taste good together… the possibilities are endless! Who knows? You might even find a winning combo!
5. Don’t cut back on the carbs.
It’s practically a scientific fact: Carbohydrates make up the tastiest tier of the food pyramid. So even if you’re feeling guilty for eating that heaping plate of food the other day, don’t say goodbye to those mashed potatoes! You may believe that carbs are evil incarnate, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, but they’re a necessary source of energy for your body. So don’t ditch your garlic bread to dive into those veggies just yet — give your body the nutrients it deserves.
6. Eat food of all textures.
Even if you’ve avoided almonds for years because they make you gag when you chew them or refuse to eat raspberries because they’re slightly fuzzy, give those texturous foods another try. Each type of food, regardless of texture, serves a purpose: supplying your body with vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients. So get brave, ignore that “fruit fuzz,” and kiss those fears goodbye! Your body will thank you.
7. Ice cream is always a good idea.
Ice cream is that magical dessert that should defy all “diet rules” because it’s just that delicious. Celebrating a new job? Eat ice cream! Boyfriend break up with you? Turn up that Adele and grab a big ol’ bowl of ice cream! No matter how you feel, ice cream is always there for you and is a top-notch choice, too (hello, dairy and calcium!) Plus, there are tons of non-dairy options if you need them. Treat yo’self!
8. No matter what you eat, don’t sweat it off.
Just polish off a giant helping of pasta? Feel your stomach hugging your clothes? Don’t lace up those Nikes and work it all off! You should exercise because you love it, not out of an obligation to burn calories. Instead of frantically sprinting around your neighborhood, trying to shrink your waistline, play a board game, listen to music, read a book, pet a cat… you won’t regret it!
Whether you’ve struggled to resist the temptations of diet culture or simply want to enjoy your favorite foods without a “guilt hangover” later, these eight rules will ensure you a nourished body and a healthy mindset. So dig in, because you deserve it!
Previously published on Thought Catalog.