A friend on Facebook reminded me of the septic relationship most people have with food. She is apparently in the midst of a 10-day detox, and is already referring to things as ‘forbidden fruit’, and being offered ‘advice’ by well-meaning friends. Such ‘advice’ being things like denying oneself for 5-6 days, then permitting it for 1-2. I’m sorry, but any eating plan/diet that suggests such a binge and purge approach is bad. Thinking of anything as forbidden fruit is bad. These are not healthy approaches to eating, or to loving oneself.
Now me, I’m not a dietitian. I’m not a food expert, but I do know one thing – I know that you can have a healthy diet and include the things that are supposedly bad. I know that taking this approach means that the good-for-you things start tasting darn good after a time, and the not-so-good things start tasting not so good. I used to live off of takeaways myself; I couldn’t be assed to cook more than once in a blue moon. Granted, I had other health issues at the time that sapped me of energy, but I’m sure that all that delicious junk didn’t help either. But I always have had the advantage of also liking good things, like vegetables aplenty. I definitely had a palatal advantage over my husband, but as we both learned – you can pull it even further to ‘right’ without too much effort.
So what am I trying to say? Don’t deny yourself junky things; have it in moderation. The example this particular friend mentioned, and I commiserate with, was Taco Bell. Well… get yourself -a- chicken soft taco and a burrito once a week or something, but otherwise, try to limit it. Don’t treat it like a ‘forbidden fruit’ or give yourself a pass day, ’cause both of these will end up with binge eating habits. The desire to eat those additive-laden goodies will never go away, I might add, but the more healthy things you eat, the more your palate adjusts to liking the nice things, the less nice the Taco Bells and the McDonalds will taste. I know, sounds crazy, but I’m living it – I still want to go to town on some double cheeseburgers, but I know when I do, it’ll taste really stale and flavourless now. I used to live on the junk, now I can say no thanks, ’cause it just doesn’t taste good any more.
Having said that, getting your palate to change isn’t an immediate thing. That’s why denying oneself things is bad, or jumping into a full new eating regime is also bad. Do have the junk, but balance it out with good things, like steamed vegetables (which take no time with a microwave steamer). Don’t like vegetables? Smother them in cheese or butter or gravy for a while. Reduce the sauce over time, and you might be surprised to realize that you actually like the taste of fresh veg. Or frozen even; there’s no reason to have vegetables rotting in your fridge or on your counters if you’re not going to be bothered to cut them up and shove them in a steamer (gasp, costing precious minutes of slacking!).
Another big area of consideration is, of course, snacks. Let’s face it – a carrot isn’t going to do you if you want chocolate. So have a few squares of chocolate then; just don’t eat the entire bar. Eating slowly is one of those tricks that helps too – you get less in your piehole if you take your time about it. But do try to get hooked on healthy options too – buy two oranges and two bananas a week, or something small like that. It might cost a bit more buying them individually, but that means you’ll have less rotting and stinking up the place if you don’t actually get around to them. Have things like baked chips, hummus and pitas (you can get so many awesome flavoured hummuses these days), peanut butter, popcorn… there are tons of tasty options that aren’t too creepy healthy, and are much better than cramming down a bag of Doritos and a couple of Snickers. ;D
Anyways, the long and the short of it – it’s gonna take time. Don’t rush yourself, don’t make yourself miserable thinking in terms of healthy and detox and weight loss. If you want to change your diet, it is in your power, yo.
And otherwise, have a great Monday!
Short response: Yes!
Longer response: I agree completely with this on multiple levels. I never understood the detox diets people do and I never understood completely denying a food you love in the name of “diet”. And people wonder why, as soon as they stop the diet, they gain all the weight back? (and this is coming from someone who has had her share of eating issues, as you know) I grew up on fast food and microwaveable meals. My mom never cooked. But, once I finally learned some better eating habits, fast food indeed started tasting gross. I still have a long way to go before I am where I would like to be, as far as eating healthy, but as long as I’m moving in the right direction, I am happy.
Completely unrelated comment: I am currently typing this on my phone while curled up in the fetal position because I have been sick all night. Pretty sure I got a moderate case of food poisoning when at a friend’s house last night. I don’t think I’m such a lightweight that the three drinks I had would make me throw up all night 😉
I don’t know if we have the same friend, but havi g recently dispensed “cheat day” advice I wanted to clarify. I don’t think of cheat day as a binge day, but a way to keep track of eating treats. I have a reaction to food of “if I don’t eat this now I’ll never be able to have it” which often means saying yes to treats that I don’t even particularly want. Likewise, the idea of being on a diet where things are never allowed doesn’t even make sense, if you eat something junky once you have to start all over again (seems to e the mentality). For me, cheat day is shorthand for “day where I eat some of the things I enjoy but don’t want to have every day). That said, I’m not really a cheat-day-er. On weekends I have one meal per day that I didn’t prepare and they’re probably higher sodium, fat and carb, I might have dessert, etc. I don’t treat it as a reward or special treat, just a way of having something I wouldn’t make at home.
Sara, that’s pretty much the same experience as me. So obviously, I empathise. Feel better!
Yveva – I actually do get the gist of what you mean. My concern with the free day suggestion is as I outlined – while it might be well intentioned, with the wrong mindset? You do end up with a binge day. So while it could be a very useful tool ONCE someone has acclimated to healthier food thinking, I cannot see it as a good idea until one stops thinking in terms of ‘forbidden fruit’. As I was saying to a friend on G+ – we here went from ordering in junk once a week to -maybe- once a month. But we weaned ourself off over the course of a couple months to where we could do that without getting stressed out about having denied oneself. 🙂 I hope that clarifies intent of statement!
Oh yes, and I’ll add – it probably totally is the same friend, but I didn’t take note of who said what. I just saw the bits said and tried to unjumble it from ‘Hulk smaash!’* into something politer. <__< * - Actually, this is almost never the case anymore, even with this. Hooray for actually being medicated as needed! 😀
I totally agree that you shouldn’t deny yourself only to allow yourself a binge later. Moderation is definitely key! I allow myself something naughty every single day (most of it’s low fat, but it’s still yummy naughty!).