What about health?
Does eating what you want - what your body desires at the current moment, - put aside the health quotient?
After my mom died of cancer, I became obsessed with health. Why had she gotten sick? How could I and everyone I loved learn from this and keep from getting it?
So I did some research. They (you know, the ubiquitous “they”) said:
· Sugar causes cancer; avoid it at all costs. I went sugar-free (well, except on the ‘off’ days).
· Sugar-free products, such as aspartame, cause cancer. I stopped the sugar-free gum, “no sugar added” pudding, chocolates, ice cream (man, the sugar alcohols contained in these were killer on the stomach!)
· Meat causes cancer. I went vegetarian.
· All animal products cause cancer. I went vegan.
· Foods cooked at high temperatures, and cooked foods in general, are not good for you. I went raw.
· Absence of whole grains and fiber in your diet is bad for your intestinal tract and colon. I went back to rice.
· Fish eaters in Japan get less cancer. I put fish back in.
· Mediterranean people don’t get cancer. I ate Greek yogourt.
· Excess weight is the ultimate culprit. Do whatever you can to eat less – maybe try high protein, low carbohydrate. Back in goes the meat, out goes the rice. Also, it’s all about calories in, calories out. I went to Weight Watchers.
· Man didn’t die of cancer a million years ago. I went primal.
· Gluten causes lots of problems, maybe even cancer. Bring on the potato flour.
· Juicing can cure a host of diseases, including cancer. I bought a juicer. Oh, and make sure the juice is consumed immediately, before it oxidizes, and the produce should not only be organic and grown locally, but also in your own garden, in compost soil.
Is anyone else as exhausted as I am???
Signe Darpinian, a marriage and family therapist with a certificate in eating disorders, runs a clinic in San Francisco counseling people in mindful and intuitive eating. She wrote “Knock Out Dieting”, a useful workbook for shutting out the noise and putting the teachings of people like Geneen Roth into practice. She says that you should eat for the health of your “future self”. She believes that if you present yourself with a smorgasbord of choices, you will ultimately gravitate toward healthy foods. But she says to start out by considering every food to be equal on the nutritional playing field, as in broccoli = cake. She actually advocates keeping a stack of chocolate bars on hand at all time, and purposely bringing your “off limits” food into the house. The thinking is that once you know they are there, that you can have them if you want them, they lose their power. Interesting. I did start buying my favourite cookies again, and take great pleasure in having a few every day.( I can’t see me keeping carrot cake on the counter, though.)
Here’s the difference I have found. I now go past the BK drive-thru and say to myself – you can go there if you want, if you are hungry and desire this food. The other day I had my usual (chicken sandwich and cheesy-fries), but I only had about half, because I was full, and because I know that I can go back tomorrow if I really want to. A few months ago I would have driven by, fiercely berating myself as I remembered my past offenses.
I once had a trainer (I've had a lot of trainers) who told me the following about the two foods with which I've been having a love affair for years – cheese and peanut butter: Do not let cheese or peanut butter pass your lips. Do not let them into your shopping cart. Do not even go to the aisles that contain them at the grocery store. If you see cheese or peanut butter, run immediately in the other direction. If I hear that you've been eating cheese or peanut butter, you're in trouble.
I was living with my sister at the time. No, I did not keep any cheese or peanut butter of my own. But I sure did bust into hers every chance I got. Like, way too much. She used to get quite angry. She wanted me to just buy some of my own, but I knew that I “couldn't be trusted”.
I like this one: Signe also says that no food is ‘bad’, unless you hit someone over the head with it. Mindful and intuitive eating means eating to nourish your body. We all know what nourishes our bodies - fruits and vegetables, whole grains, proteins, healthy fats. A mindful eating practice lends itself to better nutrition on the whole, as we pay attention and act upon how foods make us feel.