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Friday, January 17, 2014

Finding Peace

Have you ever eaten something that "you shouldn't have eaten," and then felt GUILTY afterward?  I have. Then, I started wonder WHY I was feeling guilty.  WHO said that that food was "bad" in the first place? Was it me?  Was it based off of some article that I read? Did my doctor tell me that it was bad?  Most of the time, the answer was ME.  I was the one setting limits.  I was the one defining the good from the bad.

The crazy thing about all of this was that I really didn't have GOOD reasons as to what made particular food good or bad.  It was all based off of what "they" say.  Have you met "they?"  "THEY" say that it's going to rain today. "THEY" say that too much fat is bad. "THEY" say that not enough fat is bad. "THEY" say that a protein based diet is the best. "THEY" say that a protein based diet is horrible.  "THEY" say that we should all be vegetarian.  "THEY" say that becoming a vegetarian doesn't give us enough protein.  Get the picture? WHO are THEY, and WHY do I let them tell me what is best for ME?

I'm not saying that all of the information that we learn about our bodies and health should be tossed aside, but I AM saying that ultimately, we need to base our health based upon what WE feel and know to be true about US.  For example, I don't eat creamy soups.  I used to think that it was because I didn't like them (which I don't.)  But the REASON that I don't like them is because they make me feel sick every time that I eat them. It has taken me a long time to make this connection.  So, I avoid creamy soup... and other things with a lot of cream in them for that matter.  I also have friends that don't eat gluten.  Why?  Because it hurts their stomach when they DO eat it.  Their bodies don't react well with it (which has also served as a clue to deeper issues with their bodies as well.) However, in general, we don't need a doctor to tell us that we have a disease or some other life threatening problem to change the way that we eat. We just need to listen to our bodies. I think that it should be US making changes.

MAKE PEACE WITH FOOD

How do we do that?  We find peace with food.  Accept the fact that there unless the food contains harmful or addictive substances, or makes you feel like poop after eating it, it's probably OK to eat! Yes, this includes chocolate, meat, dairy, grain, and every other FOOD out there.

For years, health professionals have agreed that there shouldn't be any "forbidden" foods. Yet, they continue to tell us about certain foods that are "better" than others. To make peace with your food, you need to accept that ALL FOOD IS CREATED EQUAL!  Or, at least, all food should become EMOTIONALLY EQUAL.  This means that chocolate should receive the same emotional response within YOU as a peach does. Once you ALLOW these foods to come into your diet, you will find that the urgency to eat them in large quantities will dissipate.

HABITUATION

Research shows that people will tire of eating the same kind of food- it's called HABITUATION. Habituation studies have shown that the MORE a person is exposed to particular food, the less appealing it becomes.  Habituation explains why we quickly adapt to a repeated experience- and subsequently experience less pleasure each time.  It applies to many situations. The Christmas Morning gift is the perfect example.  A lot of children anxiously await Christmas morning to get the ONE gift that they have wanted for months (or weeks....days  if its' MY kids.) In any event, they unwrap that wonderful, awe-inspiring gift and squeal with joy at the sight of it!  They play with it all day long. This excitement starts to dwindle until one day, that toy is just thrown into the toy box with the other toys from Christmas mornings past. See what I mean? Habituation is the reason that LEFTOVERS are less appealing...especially on days two or three.  My mom SWEARS that movie popcorn gets STALE the SECOND she leaves the movie theater.  We actually have a bucket of popcorn sitting on the counter that has been there since the New Year.... don't judge me.  I just can't bring myself to throw it away...and yet, no one is eating it. It has lost it's appeal. Part of the purpose of having unconditional permission to eat ANYTHING is not so that you will get sick FROM it, or get sick OF it.  It's simply to experience habituation, in which the novelty of eating a particular food just...wanes.

I'll admit. When I first tried this concept, I fell victim to the "I finally have this in my grasp, I MUST eat this NOW" state of mind.  I ate EVERYTHING that I wanted in the first hour!!!  After that, I still had the food in my kitchen.  I just left it there.  I would have a little more later on in the day. Then, the next day, I would remember that the wonderful "treats" were there and I would get all excited to eat it! Can you believe it?!?  I was EXCITED to eat the food!  Why?  Because I considered it "special." It was a TREAT.  Something that was FORBIDDEN!  As time passed, and I grew to accept ALL food as being OK to eat, I find that I can buy the same foods, and they actually get OLD!  There is ice cream in my freezer that has been there since before Christmas, and it's only HALF gone!  There are UNOPENED cookies (Keebler stripes, my favorite) in the pantry.  They have been there for days and I STILL haven't opened them.  See, I just don't FEEL like eating them.  Now that I CAN have them, I really don't WANT them ..... as much as I did anyway.

5 STEPS TO HABITUATION

To really find peace with your food, I suggest doing the following steps.  These steps were taken from the "Intuitive Eating" book and will help you avoid the "I can eat whatever I want, as much as I want, whenever I want" trap that I fell into.  Trust me... you will feel better about doing it this way. You can learn more about Intuitive Eating HERE. 

1. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES THAT THEY MAY BECOME YOUR STRENGTHS! Pay attention to the foods that are appealing and make a list of them.
2. Put a check mark next to the foods that you consider "forbidden."
3. Choose ONE food from the list and give yourself "permission" to eat it.  Go buy it from the store.
4. Test the food. Does it taste as good as you imagined it does?  (The Keebler cookies didn't.) If you really like it, keep it in your house!
5. Make sure that you ALWAYS have some of this food on hand.  It's there whenever you want it.  I know that this seems scary, but I think that you will find that KNOWING that the food is there and available makes it less desirable.
 

*It's completely natural to eat a lot of the food at first.  It's ok.  But my suggestion would be to avoid eating the food all by itself.  Eat it with other foods to help curb the appetite. 

Once the food isn't a "big deal" anymore, move on to another item on your list.

But CINDY!!  I'm addicted to certain foods! If I start, I won't be able to STOP! Well.... I'm not so sure that there IS such a thing.  I'll explain more in my NEXT POST.

Until then.  Eat, Drink, and be Merry for tomorrow..... wait..... no. Just stop being so hard on yourself ok?  EAT what you want. Eat WHEN you want.  Just don't eat AS MUCH as you want.  ;)  And don't forget to ONLY eat when you are hungry.  THAT IS THE KEY!!!

TLDR: Find peace with forbidden foods so that you can create habituation and therefore decrease your cravings for these foods. 


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