It’s Monday and you feel like you ate a little too much food at that BBQ on the weekend. You feel guilty, but you tell yourself you will “make-up” for it over the next couple of days. You may decide to eat a little less or exercise extra hard to “burn it off”…
We are here to tell you that you DO NOT need to “burn off” your food, or restrict yourself for that matter, in any situation. In fact, this type of thinking often leads to restrictive behaviours during the week and overeating on the weekends. This is an uncomfortable cycle that does not support food freedom. Instead, we urge you to change your mindset and stop focusing on the calories.
Here’s why you don’t need to “burn off” your food:
Of course, we need to eat to survive. Food provides our bodies with energy to perform important body functions and to fuel our daily tasks. It also contains important vitamins and minerals that support our health in a variety of ways. However, it is also so much more.
Think about it, food is often the focus whenever we gather with family and friends. Whether it be a birthday celebration, a holiday, or just a catch-up with those we love. Not to mention, it is also often a way that we show our love. Have you ever baked cookies for a friend going through a hard time? Or, maybe you surprised your partner with their favourite snack.
Food can also be strongly tied to our culture as we enjoy passed down family recipes. Or, we may eat dishes that stem from our heritage and practice certain meal traditions. All in all, food can be a source of enjoyment as it joins these elements together and holds important memories.
Thus, food is so much more than fuel. Food is connection, love, enjoyment, culture, tradition, nostalgia and so much more. It is NOT just about calories. Learn more about how to stop calorie counting HERE.
Our bodies are designed to take the food we provide it with and use it efficiently. There is so much going on behind the scenes that we can’t see. Our bodies need food to give us energy, repair cells, and fuel body functions. This even includes blinking, breathing and keeping out heart beating!
Our bodies do not get overwhelmed by a little extra energy here and there. Our bodies will put that “extra” fuel to good use. Also, if we attempt to “burn off” the food we eat, our body will be left without this important energy to keep these functions running.
Constantly trying to “burn off” your food can create a dangerous cycle both physically and mentally. As a result, you may stop trusting your body and your body may stop trusting you. Remember, your body is so much smarter than you may think!
Exercise is not meant to be a punishment. Movement should make you feel energised, happy, excited, and physically good. When we are focused on burning calories, exercise can start to feel stressful and like a chore. Not only is this unenjoyable, but it can be unmotivating and may impact our desire to be consistent with exercise.
It is time to stop viewing exercise as a way to “burn off” food or change your body. Instead, exercise because it makes you feel good and benefits your health in other, more important ways. For example, movement can help increase mobility, flexibility, strength, and can help you live a longer, healthier life.
A great way to start changing the narrative is by practicing joyful movement and intuitive exercise. Choose forms of movement that you love and move your body when, and in the amount that truly feels good for you.
You should not be worrying about “burning off” your food. Enjoy food and everything it means to you as it brings you connection and enjoyment. Remember that your body knows how to use the energy you provide it with and that it needs that energy to function. Finally, focus on joyful movement rather than how many calories you can burn in a session. Overall, you may begin to find freedom with food and exercise when you change your mindset.
If you are looking for guidance on your food freedom journey, see what our non-diet, dietitians have to offer HERE.