I’m sure you could all list 4398583 bad habits I have told you about in the last few months, but I have never really discussed, in detail, my relationship with diet food. When I say diet food, I’m referring to anything fat-free, sugar-free, specifically marketed to lose weight, etc. Typically these things are lower calorie, have a mile high list of ingredients, half of which I can’t pronounce, and many of them have been staples in my household since I was a little girl. My philosophy has always been why would you ever waste the calories on something full-fat when there is a light version out there?!
Anyway, I was reading about clean eating the other day, maybe on Whole Foods or Health Magazine’s website? I don’t really remember, which exactly, but there are a ton of articles out there, and I was seeing for the millionth time how these diet products can actually cause you to gain weight because you feel like you can eat more of them, and that artificial sweeteners used increases your desire for sugar, all those things that are pretty much common knowledge in the “health” world.
I’m not concerned with the weight gain aspect, because that is pretty much my ultimate goal, but I was interested in some other facets of what the author had to say about digestion, how a body will respond to whole food vs. the lab-created versions, and essentially that the more processed food is, the more toxic it is to our bodies. Obviously not to the point where you will die instantaneously, but a body functions a lot better without adding a ton of manufactured stuff, specifically artificial diet ingredients.
So this morning, as I came down to get breakfast, starving as usual in the morning, I was thinking about what I wanted. This is never hard because I have a pretty small list of things I rotate through and lately it has been all about carbs, sunflower butter, strawberries, pancake syrup, and plain greek yogurt. I say these selections in very generic terms, but that is not the case at all.
So what do I mean specifically? I don’t just go to the store, see a loaf of wheat bread and pick it off the shelf for purchase. I try to find the lowest calorie bread possible, and I will certainly not be getting regular whole-grain English muffins that are 120-140 calories each depending on the brand, when there are perfectly delicious Thomas’ Light or Fiber One 100 Calorie choices!
In my mind it doesn’t register (I should say it doesn’t care) that they pump these choices with unreal ingredients as fillers in order to take the natural energy away from the grain. All I see is numbers, and to me that determines “good,” “bad,” “buy,” or “don’t buy.”
Sugar-free products are probably the worst. I haven’t ever purchased myself a normal container or maple syrup, that actually comes from nature, or jam that spreads without wiggling and jiggling because its full of fake, but when I look at the labels its disturbing how long some of the words are on the ingredient list, not to mention the fact that I have never heard the words, ever.
So despite my knowledge that these low-calorie options are not the best choices for my body, I still buy them, and have a hard time imagining ever doing something different. When I first got the intro packet the day before I was entering Hershey’s Partial Hospitalization Program, and saw that you had to drink a caloric beverage, and the milk could not be skim, I told Ryan I wasn’t going. Who drinks 2% milk?! What a waste of calories. It was the same with yogurt, pudding, chips, breads, salad dressings and pretty much any other choice I would be making on my menus. Everything I have ever eaten that has a light version, which was the only version permitted in my kitchen, was going to be replaced with the real deal!
Ryan loved these changes, and was hoping they would transfer to our home as well. He grew up drinking whole milk and thinks skim tastes like water, and crinkles his face every time I pour unsweetened Almond Breeze or Coconut Milk in a little measuring cup, because to him, our bodies have needs and would prefer to meet them through REAL FOOD. He was so excited that I might actually eat yogurt that wasn’t Danon Light and Fit or 0% Chobani and Oikos, but was quickly disappointed when he noticed nothing in our pantry was changing. I may have had to eat these things while under the watchful eye of professionals but that certainly did not mean these items were making it to our home.
Why couldn’t I practice the skills I was learning at program, and move them into our own lives. That’s simple. Because I wasn’t learning anything. I was eating the stuff to appease everyone, while still considering all these non-light products taboo. I didn’t want them, and I still to this day, can’t even determine if they taste better because I am too busy repeating in my mind how I can’t believe I would let Oil and Vinegar, rather than just vinegar, touch my salad bowl.
I’m currently reading the chapter in Intuitive Eating about Challenging the Food Police, and in the next few days, when I explore the section a little more thoroughly I intend on assessing and analyzing my thoughts a little farther, but today, I am wondering if any of you have had similar issues with breaking free from diet choices?
When I was making my breakfast selection this morning, I had serious craving for something doughy and delicious. When I opened my freezer and noticed I still had a few slices of Great Harvest Honey Wheat Bread left, from when they sent me a few samples, my mind couldn’t think of anything else. The downside was it wasn’t the low-carb variety I typically buy when I go there, meaning 30-40 calories more per slice, and I sliced this myself so I was already worried that the portions were off, and I was going to over eat.
What I have discovered was that if I don’t eat what my mind/body wants, it usually isn’t satisfied, so in an effort to make peace with the cravings, and ultimately form a better relationship with food and my body, I decided to have some bread even though I knew it could be difficult to deal with afterwards.
Since breakfast is typically my largest meal, in one sitting, I had more bread than I (well, ok, my ED) wanted me to have. I had three VERY thick slices…which probably equaled about 6-8 ounces of actual grains, in addition to my yogurt, fruit, and sunflower butter. Although calorically it wasn’t too off from my normal morning feast, it still felt so wrong because it was not something my brain could register as a “safe” choice.
So then, as I was sitting there finishing my tea and agonizing over the “ridiculous” consumption of bread I had, I remembered my conversation between Deb, the Great Harvest of Wayne owner, and myself just a few months ago. The company is awesome because they very rarely use any more than 5 ingredients in their products. It’s completely natural, totally healthy, whole food, that I, and you, should feel fabulous about eating to fuel our bodies.
I don’t want this to sound like a reframe was easy, because in all honesty, I’m still cursing myself for eating what I keep thinking of as a whole loaf of bread, which occurred nearly 8 hours ago. But at the same time, I wasn’t full to the point where my pants were coming undone, it really did taste amazing, and I didn’t die because of a few extra calories. So although I’m still beating myself up a bit mentally, the discomfort will hopefully subside as the day progresses, and next time it may just be a bit easier. Plus Zumba is tomorrow and I definitely plan on going, which means new, increased meal plan, is a must meet!
I don’t think I’m ready to purchase full-fat Chobani, or drink whole milk, consume a pie, or anything like that, but if you have any suggestions on making peace with the food police, and transitioning from a meal plan of all low-calorie, diet conscious food, I am seeking the help.
What are some of your favorite whole foods?
How do you reframe your thoughts if you have guilt after a meal or snack?
What are some ways you change negative self-talk to a positive mentality?