I was grocery shopping and when I passed the amazing thumbprint cookies in the bakery at the Co-op and I decided I wanted a treat. It was delicious and, for the most part, worth every bite. I felt a little sluggish for the rest of the day, a typical reaction for me if I eat too much sugar. I did manage to stick to my gluten-free rule, mostly because wheat really upsets my stomach. Here is what I didn’t do: Beat myself up about falling off some proverbial wagon. Binge for the rest of the day. Run more, workout more or do anything extra to “make up for the calories.” I didn’t decide it was all over and give up on other healthy choices just because I “cheated”.
I hate that term, especially when applied to food. Cheat. Merriam-Webster defines it as follows:
: to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something
: to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule
None of these definitions even sound good, I almost feel guilty just reading them. Guilt really just means that you innately know that whatever you are doing is wrong. In the context of food: food is fuel for our body, food should bring us energy and life, it should make us feel good after we eat it! And when the opportunity for a treat presents itself, you should be able to indulge if you want, then move on. Make the conscious decision to just enjoy a treat, versus thinking of it as a cheat.
It really does kind of come down to a perspective shift. I have personally set some of my own rules. Most of the time, when I do have a treat, I prefer it to be made from real, whole-food ingredients; and often try to make it myself. These rules are the reason that a sheet cake from, say Wal-Mart, does not even appeal to me. (On the flip side, if I am at a wedding and grandma made the cake from her secret double chocolate recipe…well then I may decide I need some cake!)
I recently read Jason Seib’s book, The Paleo Coach. He makes a lot of good points in there and there were a couple on this topic that stood out to me. The first went something along these lines (with my own two-sense thrown in):
You take a bath every day, you eat every day. What you eat every day is simply called your diet. Now say you don’t shower for a day. Are you “cheating”? Do you decide that since you didn’t shower today that you are just not going to shower at all anymore? That maybe since you missed your shower on Wednesday then to heck with it this week, “I’ll just start over again on Monday.”
The second thing he talked about was that how out of all 5 senses, taste was the only one that we (often knowingly) sacrifice our health for. If someone told you that you could never see, smell or touch a rose again because it would encourage the growth of cancer cells…I bet you would not have a hard time steering clear of the offending flower.
When you start to think about certain foods from this different perspective, it puts a whole new spin on “everything in moderation.” (Another cliche I am not fond of…) It hopefully also make you think about the addictive properties of certain foods. Think about what you would call a comfort food…I had a hell of a time letting go of macaroni and cheese, and it horrified me to think I may never eat cheesecake again. But I bet you would have a hard time finding someone who called steak or brussels sprouts their comfort food…
We all have to honor where we are at in our own journey. For many of us, this is what moving towards health is – a journey. Hopefully one that is leading you towards a more fulfilled life worth with living, versus a life you are just surviving. All I can do is offer my opinions and thoughts, and share with you the tricks I have learned along my own journey. So here, I will offer you my personal rules/tips for treats or indulgences!
- First, set rules for yourself, then honor them! It helps, and will help you say “no” to the crap-filled donuts in the office.
- Find a plan that works for you. I like to let treats come to me. I used to try to plan for a Sunday Funday, but would often find myself going for that extra drink on Friday night or making some paleo pancakes on Saturday morning. It became easier to just kind of work with how I felt.
- Get the treats out of your regular routine! You don’t “deserve a treat” at the end of every day because you were “really good all day.” You deserve the healthiest body possible and that means filling up with the healthy stuff!
- Change your reward system. Don’t “reward” yourself or your children with junk food that ultimately damages your health and their growing bodies. I plan to have little toys for Charlie and hopefully she will enjoy a good pedicure as much as I do!
- Make it yourself or make sure it is made from REAL FOOD! Red dye #40, carageenan, maltodextrin, MSG, partially hydrogenated ANYTHING, canola oil and much much more are all things that have no place in the human body. Read your labels! (Here is a handy link for some GMO Free brands!)
I really hope that this helps even just one person! Please note that the things I have marked off in “parenthesis” are all things I have said to myself at one point or another and are things I have had to work really hard to stop saying/thinking. They are not good, they can be downright destructive and create a perspective set for failure. It now helps me to think of them in an extremely sarcastic tone, so those of you who know me should re-read this with my voice in your head… 🙂
~Stay Healthy! Lindsay