The Importance of Food

I apologize in advance if this post is a little unorganized. I’ve got a lot on my mind and I just want to cover all the bases. I also want to preface this post with stating that I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or anything along those lines. The thoughts expressed here are just my opinions; I have experienced and learned a lot about food, weightloss, weightgain, and more. I feel the need to share my personal experiences so similar mistakes aren’t made, and the successes can hopefully be spread onto others.

I’ve noticed a lot of posts around Instagram and online recently that caught my eye and concerned me. I’m not referring to anyone in particular, but it’s something very common that I’ve noticed. Some examples include chicken with a low carb tortilla, calling it “high carb”. A “cheat meal” is a quest bar or a low carb waffle recipe. My 220 calorie, 22g carb healthy poptart recipe is made as a “treat” for “high carb day.” A 120 mugcake is “too filling”. 1400 calories a day is “a lot.” People claiming to be recovering from an eating disorder and getting better, yet  an entire meal is a smoothie made from 1/2 scoop protein powder, almond milk, and 2-3 cups of ice to bulk it up. People eating 200 calories of chicken for dinner and that’s it. Ladies at my gym eliminating carbs entirely because that’s what someone told them to do. People eating 800 calories a day because that’s all they think they need. People eating 2 cups of raw zucchini as an entire meal.

I understand that everyone is different, has different goals, etc, but there is realistically no reason anyone should be eating 1200 calories a day or less than 100g carbs to lose weight or especially to maintain. Less is not always more. You cannot sustain your body this way. Unless you are temporarily prepping for a competition, but that’s another subject… People need more food than this, even if you’re trying to lose some weight!

Story time. When I was losing weight but transitioning to maintenance, I had a hard time grasping this concept. I thought 1500 calories a day was such a huge leap to eat every day, from the 1300-1350 I was eating. I thought “surely I don’t deserve this much food. I don’t workout that hard… I don’t even have abs yet. I’m fine.” But I wasn’t. I wasn’t physically hungry, but my body was missing food. My hair was dry and falling out. I’ve spoken about this before, but I need to reiterate this. My body began to literally break down. I remember vividly walking to class one day, nearly puking and passing out simultaneously. It hurt to walk. I felt forever thirsty with a headache. So cold. My ankles were always sore (they go weak first when I’m not well fed or rested). It was bad. It took THIS much for me to accept that I needed more food. Another thing that helped was this site. You can’t argue with science. This told me I needed ~1350 calories TO LAY IN BED ALL DAY. THEN you factor in your activity levels!  That makes it even higher. This was extremely eye opening to me. Once I increased my calories, I actually began to LOSE weight and look more physically defined. It was amazing and comforting that increasing calories shouldn’t be feared.

A lot of people are familiar with the phrase “calories in vs calories out” to lose weight. Yes, this is true. But to an extent… Yes you do want to limit the amount of calories you take in so that you can lose weight, but that doesn’t mean eliminate them ENTIRELY. There’s a give and take system. You need to be able to perform well and not hinder your daily functions.

I was listening to some ladies in the sauna at my gym. A lady was saying that she was put on a meal plan that totally eliminated carbs and lowered calories. But then she was saying how she had such a huge headache and she was tired all week during workouts. I don’t genereally like to harp in on conversations in the sauna, but I felt I needed to… I told her there’s no reason to eliminate carbs and decided to tell her how I had lost weight. I never once considered macros, carbs, blah blahhhh. I viewed things as just calories. Calories in vs calories out. She asked me 5-6 times “wait so you ate carbs?” and every time I told her yes… She seemed in disbelief. Carbs have gotten such a bad connotation, but they really are what fuels our bodies. They are metabolized to give us energy; it doesn’t take my biochemistry degree to know that. The reason they have a bad reputation is because of the foods like french fries, cake, cookies, burgers, and similar foods that are widely overeaten by the public. Processed carbs. But carb sources like brown rice, sweet potato, and oats should be, by all means, consumed without fear!

I also want to apologize if any of my posts help perpetuate the habits I am referring to. Yes, I do occassionally post macros. Yes, I do post low carb recipes. This is because I understand many people compete and must temporarily follow strict macros. I know many also follow the IIFYM approach to training. So having low carb options is ideal in certain circumstances. But by no means do I wish people eat low carb everything all the time. Wanna know a secret? I bet you 95% of the time I post a meal, especially if it’s low carb, I’ve eaten about 200 calories worth of squash and peanut butter while I make it. :D I eat about 2400-2600 calories a day and 300-350 g carbs. Posts to my site or Instagram can be deceiving since you only get a glimpse of my day. This holds true for anybody you see on Instagram. Never follow one person’s posts as “the way” or view them as completely true. It can be deceiving; you are not there with them every hour to see what they actually eat day in and day out. They could be binging behind Instagram, therefore making what they do post seem small. Or they could post a larger meal, but not actually finish it. You just never know. The main purpose of my recipes is to provide a healthy alternative of sugary treats as well as inspire new and creative meal ideas. This way people can maintain a healthy lifestyle without “falling off” from healthy eating. It should be a sustainable and realistic lifestyle. Realistic is not a 1300 calorie a day diet including working out 5x a week. Realistic is not a 60g carb diet. Realistic is not saying a carb-less, 100 mugcake is a “cheat.”

I think it is way too easy to get in a “fitness bubble” where you think everything is a lot more crucial than it really is. There is a point of TOO much influence, and you begin to think that everyone else is better, skinnier, more fit, eats healthier, etc. So you get more strict with your diet to the point of lacking proper nutrition and energy because you think that’s how everyone else does it… Like I said, everything can be deceiving. A good example for me was last week. I am currently training for a half marathon in April. I have not run longer than 2 miles in about 9-10 months. I went for my first run to gauge my starting point. I lifted for an hour first, then went for a run. I had a goal of 3-6 miles. I had to stop after 3.5 miles and felt disappointed. Then I was speaking with my coworkers (we’re running the race together) and they were shocked and amazed at my distance and pace because they’ve been training for a while and still run 2 miles in 25 minutes. I just stopped and realized… I’m in a fitness bubble. I’ve surrounded myself with other fit individuals and assume that they are the standard and I am not good enough. But that’s not the case.

Point is, don’t compare yourself to others because you just end up cutting yourself short. Treat your body right. Give it the energy it needs. It breaks my heart to see people, unknowingly, restricting themselves of the food they deserve. Ease up a bit. I’m not saying go crazy and eat a ton of candy, but I am saying that something like healthy french toast shouldn’t make you feel so guilty. It’s okay.

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  1. BrittanyNo Gravatar says:

    I connected to this so much. I’m 19 years old and I’ve lost 105 pounds since I was 16. I went through a similar struggle as you did when it came to transitioning to maintenance calories. I thought I didn’t deserve that much food, and if I ate that much I felt like I would gain back a ton of weight. I thought I knew more than the nutritionists who told me to eat more. I started falling apart as well, having no energy and an assortment of other issues. I’m still slowly learning how important it is to fuel your body properly, as I’m becoming so much happier and becoming myself again. Thank you so much for writing this.

  2. MaggieNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you, Kim. I just stumbled on your IG, found your site, and want to break down over this. I have fallen into the trap of “carbs” are bad, and I am trying to push myself to eat more than 1450-1500 calories because working out 6-7 days a week for 1-2 hours/day on this few calories is not sustainable. And frankly, my body isn’t changing. Your post is an eye-opener, and just what I needed to see. Thanks again. Good luck in your race!

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      I am glad it struck a chord with you! I really hope you will experience what I did; that is, after I had the courage to up my calories, THEN my body changed! I believe this holds true for you when you get that courage :) And thank you!!

  3. EmilyNo Gravatar says:

    You are such an inspiration to me. I just posted on your IG but you’re my favorite account by far. I love your recipes, I just got your e-book, and I just feel a real connection with you. I feel like we’d be best friends if we knew each other, haha. Anyway. Last year I went through a period of disordered eating and disordered thinking. I never knew how to classify it, because I always thought eating disorders were just anorexia and bulimia, but people really need to know that there is more to it than these. I stumbled across an article about orthorexia and thought, “Wow, this really sounds like me.” I researched it online but I think there is such a lack of literature about it and about disordered eating. Instagram has SO much more in that area (recovery from disordered eating) than the regular internet. So I’m so glad I’ve found accounts like yours. I wish more people knew about them.

    I was 19/20 years old and went through weeks when I’d only eat fruits and vegetables for every meal, I went on the South Beach Diet for months and took it to extremes. I ate stupid things like shirataki noodles and felt so so guilty if I had a “treat,” but then binged when no one was looking. I kept this all secret from everyone, which made it even harder. I’m sure you’ve heard this all before from hundreds of people but it’s my first time saying this, or typing this.

    It permanently screwed up my brain and my way of thinking. There will always be foods that I still feel sort of traumatized by, but I’m slowly trying to get myself used to them. I still haven’t been able to make a plate of pasta for dinner, for example. But I’m working on it. My ultimate goal is to return to the blissful oblivion of pre-body image. Before I even thought about how much I should be eating, and when I was able to just naturally moderate based on when I was hungry. Side note–I really think my obsession with Pinterest was what gave me my negative body image and got me started with “healthy” eating in the first place.

    Anyway, I reached a point when I was just like, “No, this can’t be healthy.” I remember sitting in the corner of my dorm room, hysterically sobbing on the phone with my parents, asking them for help with my relationship with food. It was embarrassing, painful, and relieving all at once. I can’t pinpoint the time when I started making my way back up to health again, but I know that IG accounts like yours helped so much. They inspired me to get into the fitness world and now I lift and run and I love the way I look. I’ve learned to see food as fuel, and in my opinion that’s the biggest step for people toward recovery. Food cannot be looked at as evil.

    There are still triggers, and I get really anxious when I see calorie counts. It’s a long road, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get to that oblivion again, but I’ve learned so much along the way that it may be worth it to be where I am now. Thank you for this post. I was nodding along the whole time because I can really relate.

    I also feel like I’m in this fitness bubble, and I hold myself to such high standards that it’s easy to lose track of reality and just relax once in a while. I love what you said about not knowing what people do behind their Instagram accounts, and how you eat squash and peanut butter while you make your recipes. You’re so real. And that’s how eating should be! We’re only here for a little while, might as well enjoy the food as we eat it.

    The world needs more people like you. I see so many of my friends creeping into the just-over-the-line-of-healthy-eating territory and venturing into disordered eating. I see it all over IG, like you said in your examples, and I just want to share your story/my story/similar stories with them so they can start respecting their body and giving it what it needs.

    Sorry for the long post, but I just really wanted to thank you for being such an inspiration for me and being a huge help in my road to recovery.

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      Oh wow I love your message so much! First of all, I am glad that you were able to speak up and ask for some help. Orthorexia is so much more common than people think because, you’re right, there’s not much literature on it! Even to this day, there are foods I don’t even REALIZE I still avoid from back then. For example, last week I realized I still avoid popcorn for some reason? But I wanted popcorn… So I bought it and yeah, that was that. One more step; it’s always a process but it’s a step towards recovery nonetheless :) So good for you for that! Just have to take a step back sometimes and realize how bizarre/disordered some thoughts/actions may be.

      And thank you so much for all of the kind words. I feel like you really understood me and what I was trying to say, so that makes me hapy :)

  4. AprilNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Kim,

    Thanks for this post. This is something I both see in my coaching (adult runners for 5k-marathons) and still struggle with years into ED recovery. I personally struggle with accepting that I must eat to fuel my 40-50mi training weeks and find myself avoiding “bad” foods I’ve struggled with for years–I might be the only marathoner who avoids pasta and bagels! I’ve come a long way even if I still need to reassure myself and be reassured by objective others (my spouse and fellow coaches are great for this) that food = fuel = necessary.

    More troubling are the athletes I coach who are terrified of gaining an ounce and do things like avoid recovery meals or eat very low cal during training cycles thinking it will keep them skinny. I’ve even seen this devolve into what I call competitive non-eating where one will try to undereat more than the others to the point that even I begin to feel guilty for my post-run snack or meal. I understand wanting to stay fit but it feels like we’ve become so obsessed with thin or skinny that we’ve lost the meaning of health and fitness. A negative relationship with food is not healthy and so often results in a loss of fitness and leads to overtraining and injury, but this message is difficult to give and even more difficult for many to accept. I think it’s only by having people like you who have struggled yourself out there saying, “hey you don’t have to starve and live in fear of food, there is another way” that the message will stick.

    So thanks for making a difference and not passively allowing these conversations to happen. Keep speaking up! Strong and healthy for the win!

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you for your response<3 I love it and hope that you are able to push past the tendencies to limit. The food is definitely necessary :)

      I sure will try! Thanks

  5. DelaneyNo Gravatar says:

    I love this post so much. I got a gym membership over summer, developed a restrictive eating disorder which lowered my weigh to less than 100 pounds, and now I’m trying to lean bulk, but having a hard time getting past 1700-1800 calories a day. I love your instagram, all your recipes and food look amazing, and you seem like such a beautiful person inside and out! thank you so much for this xx

  6. Leigha @ MinougirlNo Gravatar says:

    This is such an amazing post. I notice that I just feel so much better when I eat enough for my body! I just wish there wasn’t so much pressure to be skinny. Society is terrible – they say it’s okay to be yourself, yet everything you see is “how to get your dream body” and “lost the fat”. I hate the double standard!

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      Isn’t it so awful!? I really hate that as well… I agree though completely; feeling energized and powerful is such a great feeling over feeling drained from not eating enough.

  7. MorganNo Gravatar says:

    I have contacted you multiple times because you seem like such a caring individual and you are! You always had something to inform me with and help me out when I felt stressed. Reaching out to people about my eating disorder is extremely difficult but you just want to help others and that is surely what you did for me. This post is beyond amazing, totally inspiring and I just can’t thank you enough! you are a true inspiration to me and make me reassure myself that how much I am eating now is ok. I won’t die, and I will be fine. I go through a struggle everyday and for you to realize it and actually take time out of your day to help others is outstanding! Thank you for what you do, your blog and everything! keep it up

  8. mollyNo Gravatar says:

    your message and your positivity really resignates so highly with me. youve helped me over come so many struggles through out the time ive been following you on instagram. you are such an inspiration, and i know that on behalf of almost everyone that follows you, thankyou, thankyou so much.

  9. FrankNo Gravatar says:

    I follow you on Instragram (you’re one of my favorite pages) and I know a lot of girls go through what you mentioned above, but people forget that guys go through it too. I was one of those guys who eliminated carbs and restricted my calories to very dangerous levels. I had a good healthy metabolism before I decided to get “shredded”. I’ll be honest and say that it as Instagram that sparked my desired in getting super lean. All these competitors showing of their hard work and yes, it’s very admirable, but also not maintainable. I failed to take that into account and I lost so much weight and my hair got brittle and dry and I looked sick and I started having sleeping problems and I was always tired. It got to a point where I was miserable and depressed. I did it for almost a year and It took a toll on my metabolism, my sex drive and my health. I am on the road to recovery now. I don’t track a single macro and I eat when I’m hungry in moderation. I wanted to share my story in case anybody cares :p You’re awesome and keep inspiring!

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      That’s so awesome to hear you’re eating when you feel <3 You're so right; people forget it happens to guys as well. Instagram can be motivating both in a good way but also in a bad way... I'd say that's where my extreme habits came from as well :/ Thank you so much for the kind words and for your story.

  10. Eunice @ daintymoiselle.wordpress.comNo Gravatar says:

    I found your post via Instagram a few weeks ago and I believe this was the catalyst that made me reevaluate my eating and exercise habits. Thank you so, so much for sharing your story and empowering me to tell mine. You have NO IDEA how much strength and solace I found in identifying with your journey! Thank you for giving me hope for a brighter, healthier future!

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