Remember when I challenged myself to an “Eat What I Want Weekend?” Well, it went ok. I had some positives and negatives, and after doing a little thinking, and self-analyzing with the help of the handy dandy Intuitive Eating book, I think I have figured out where I messed up, and how I can correct it…and also where I did well, and how I might be able to help you.
Going into the challenge I had a whole bunch of anxiety and fear, as well as conflicting thoughts, about some pretty common ED things. There were three elements in particular that seemed to be my biggest barriers.
- I will not ever be able to stop eating
- I will only want junk food all the time forever
Twisted thinking that could potentially have failed me or disrupted my success:
- You can only do this for a weekend! Once Monday comes its back to following a strict plan!
As far as the fears go, I have had both these dilemmas/excuses for as long as I can remember. I always thought I couldn’t even taste a “bad” food because I would inevitably overeat it., but eliminating the stigma that things are BAD will eventually take away their luster, and ultimately the massive cravings.
The caveat of EVENTUALLY….
I say this because I want you to understand (and I need to reiterate for myself) that once you “make peace” with a particular food or product, it may initially be so exciting that you do eat more of it than say, a normal person would, BUT this will go away quickly if you can let go of the negative label, and make it on an even playing field of lettuce, or something you consider “good.”
When your thinking becomes more balanced your body will let you know if you over indulge…and even if you do eat a bit too much, you might just be so sick of that old fear food you wont want it again anytime in the near future.
Another thing that may happen is the realization that the forbidden food really doesn’t taste as good as you had imagined when it was on a pedestal as something you could not have. Isn’t that a saying, “we always want what we cant have…” Well that rings true for food, and many other things!
I can definitely attest to this because growing up I always thought I was a chocolate girl. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were like the devil to me because I live near the factory and I swear they are everywhere. I absolutely love peanut-butter and remember enjoying a nice refrigerated PBC when I came in from a hot day, because the chocolate layer would be crunchy while the inside would still have a mushy, comforting texture.
When I started making foods taboo, you can imagine candy was not on the list of things that was safe to eat, so every time I would walk past the sweets aisle in the super market, or see Ryan have his favorite candy bars, I would literally be salivating because it looked so appealing.
Well a few weeks ago, when I first started to have a MAJOR challenge food a week, Ryan asked what I would like to try first. For some reason the Reese’s popped in my mind immediately, and he said it would be perfect because a normal pack contained two pieces, one for me and one for him.
Don’t get me wrong. The Peanut Butter Cup was delicious, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined because I was completely satisfied with the one. In fact, I don’t really need another milk chocolate peanut butter cup again. I would much rather try one coated in white or dark chocolate, because although I always used to think regular chocolate was so enticing, I am finding I prefer other flavors much more!
Another place I have found this to be true is when we go for fro-yo. If I would ever permit myself to taste a lick of ice cream it HAD to be chocolate or I wouldn’t even touch it! You can ask my nutritionist from Focus, because she took me to try my very first Dairy Queen blizzard (I have an immense fear of these because my grandfather told me to cut out the DQ because it was making me fat…) and I told her it was a sign from God that I should not be consuming such a thing because they did not have chocolate soft-serve that day. Now, after I am being a little more permissive with my diet, having frozen yogurt pretty much anytime I feel like it, I barely ever choose the plain chocolate because there are way more interesting things to experiment with!
You may just find once you try something you thought was going to be “so amazing you wouldn’t be able to stop eating,” it really is just mediocre or, a nice occasional treat.
Similarly, on Friday when I set up this little challenge, I immediately started to panic that all I would eat was junk! Did I eat a little differently than normal? Yeah, I did, but not in a completely horrific, I am going to die because I stuffed my body with all these toxic foods, kind of way. In fact by Saturday afternoon I was ready for a nice refreshing salad, some seriously spicy hummus, a honey-crisp apple, some yogurt, etc. I wasn’t gorging myself on chips and cake, but I did actually bake something that I ate and it wasn’t the lowest calorie recipe I could find.
I feel like if you can let go just a little bit, your body balances what it wants. I know Ryan always tells me when doctors will order pizza at work, or they have a party to celebrate something, he will eat the lunch I pack him PLUS pizza, cake, cookies, chips, whatever is there that he thinks looks good. But then the next day when he comes home and I ask what he wants for breakfast, he usually says he needs a few hours for his stomach to digest, or he just wants some fruit salad and cereal. People without food issues don’t really think about it, but their bodies naturally crave a balance. I’m hoping I get to that point someday too.
Taking the half-ass approach or as the authors of Intuitive Eating describe, “pseudo-permission” to eat anything they want, was definitely my biggest downfall.
You may physically try a food that once was forbidden but what are you saying to yourself as its being consumed? Or if you are a chocolate lover and you really want to taste chocolate do you buy a Fiber One 90 calorie brownie, or are you going to try a Ghirardelli square.
I am so guilty of these two things.
My meal plan is essentially 4 meals and 1 smaller snack. That may sound weird but that’s how my body gets hungry, and for my later night meal, I sometimes am hungrier than I would like. This weekend I allowed myself to honor that but had serious consideration before I made my selections…“what will make me the most full on the least amount of calories…if I have extra now I can take away some at breakfast…eat this cookie today because after this weekend its back to a strict meal plan!…”
If you are berating yourself mentally the second something labeled “bad” goes into your mouth, or you eat more than “normal” and call it a binge, then it really doesn’t count as being true to the experiment.
You (AND ME) are not really freeing yourself, or giving permission to enjoy the food your body wants, and should have occasionally! In fact, with each negative comment you are essentially keeping a restrictive, diet-happy, mindset. News flash, that does not take away the categorization of foods, hunger, or the luster of its prohibition.
I mean, if you “give into” your chocolate craving by substituting a diet brownie, you are still making REAL chocolate illicit, right? If at first you have to try buying individually wrapped pieces, or single servings of a fear (as I described in my earlier post about confronting carbs!) to make it a little easier, that is perfectly ok! It might also help to read the nutritional information for one square of chocolate, where you will find that a moderate portion of the real deal is pretty equal to the diet dessert. It is also likely you will consume less because the taste is more authentic and satisfying, and ultimately the calories will be the same, or less because of these two facts. Plus, take a peak at the label on those “good” brownies…how many of the ingredients can you actually pronounces, or read for that matter? My guess is very few.
So between my fears of uncontrollable eating, making ONLY unhealthy choices, and the mentality that this was the only weekend I would ever permit myself such freedom, I feel like it kind of clouded the results. I didn’t really FREE MYSELF, but on the positive, I obviously learned what I need to change for next time, how to perhaps reframe my thoughts, and I did try some new stuff that made me proud of myself…
- A REAL EGG (not Egg Beaters or an egg white…an honest to goodness egg from the farmers market!!)
- Melissa inspired mini-muffies
- Granola on top of French toast
- BUTTER (I told you all my major fear of this, and I am sad to report, this was one of those things I considered SOOOOO bad, and when I tried it, I didn’t even care for the taste!)
Do you have fear foods or categorize specific items as good or bad?