Food. Where do I even start?!? It’s essential for survival. Once upon a time, humans ate that way – for survival. But as time progresses, so does the food. It is no longer about survival, it’s about the food. The taste is the obvious draw. I don’t know of many people who purposely eat food they don’t like the taste of. Then there’s sight – you may hear quite often (especially when watching Food Network Channel), “You eat with your eyes first!”. So food shifts from being what is needed to help us sustain to what we enjoy.
I saw a quote at the gym that says, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat!” How appropriate. Yet how many of us follow this simple rule? Is food fueling your drive – or is it driving you? It’s something to consider for sure. Everyone’s story is different. Here’s mine:
I have lived most of my life letting food drive me. I have eaten for taste alone. You know those moments when you’re not hungry but it tastes SOOOO good you give in and eat it anyway? Or when you’re already so full, but you just have to have one more bite (and one more, and one more…)? GUILTY! How about when you’re stressed, depressed, bored, celebrating – do those moments bring food into your life and into your mouth? GUILTY! Or how about social eating? You’re not really hungry but others around you are eating. So you do as well. GUILTY!
Honesty time. I have let food control me. I’ve had moments I grabbed something for lunch and ate in my car because I was too embarrassed to take it in the office and eat in front of everyone. I didn’t want them to see what or how much I was eating. I’ve had moments at home when I go to the kitchen to get a snack – but I first had to “sneak” a portion or two in the kitchen before returning to the living room. That way others didn’t know how much I was really eating. I’ve had moments where I stood in the pantry eating things I shouldn’t – pigging out – so others didn’t know. I’ve spent my life eating and not even noticing the taste. I just keep shoveling it in mindlessly. Those are just a few examples.
Recently, I’ve tried to eat better. I’ve cut most sugar. I’ve cut back on carbs. I’ve tried to eat less. I’ve traded soda for water and unsweet tea. I’ve started eating more fruits and vegetables. I’ve made a real effort. Have I made the wrong decisions? Yes. Have I failed at times? Yes. Will I fail again? Most likely. But along the way I’m learning. And that’s what is most important.
These past few days, I have “fallen off the wagon” so to speak. I could make excuses but that helps no one. I will be completely honest – I got lazy with it. I’ve had a long rough week and I just didn’t want to put in the effort. I wanted comfort food. I wanted to let my taste buds rule my decision. I’ve had sodas. I’ve had a lot of carbs. I’ve had fast food. I’ve eaten more than I should. I have even been sneaking food. But in these few days of eating horrible, I’ve noticed a change. I’ve noticed a difference. And even though I may have “messed up” I am proud of myself. Because I am becoming a different person. I am making strides. I am learning. My body is changing.
If you would have told me a couple of months ago if I would put forth the effort to eat better my body would adapt I would think you were crazy! But it’s true. So for those of you who are were I was before I started this journey, there are a few things I want you to know:
- You CAN do it. It will be very difficult. I’m not going to lie and make you think it’s a walk in the park because it’s not. You have to be conscious of every food decision you make. So much of it is habit. You have to push habit aside and plan and make everything that goes into your mouth a conscious decision.
- Support from others is very helpful. If you have someone who will make the changes with you, or support you, or hold you accountable, take them up on it. Trying to do it alone with enablers around you will be next to impossible. You will have to fight for it and you need a support team to help you through it.
- Your taste buds will change. So will what your body craves. Will the bad cravings go away? Not at first. Maybe not ever. Remember – you’ve lived how many years with these bad cravings? They won’t go away overnight. But your body will adapt and transition and you will begin to realize what you need rather than what you want. For example – after drinking soda for a couple of days, my body told me today it needed water. Even though soda is what I wanted, water is what I needed. I had to make that choice. But I heard my body instead of my taste buds. Another example – after cutting way back on sugar, when having a sugar-loaded dessert, it was so much sweeter than I remember. I couldn’t handle it like I used to.
- The amount you can eat will shrink. It takes less food to get to that “I ate too much” feeling than it used to.
- You will notice changes in your body reacting to what and how much you eat. Now if I overeat, I really hate that feeling. Instead of satisfaction I feel heavy, I feel blah, I feel tired, I have less energy. I hate how I feel if I eat too much. I’ve also noticed with eating a lot of sugar and a lot of carbs over the past few days my body aches more. My joints ache. This used to be a normal feeling for me and I just overlooked it. I notice it now and if I can prevent it, I want to.
- Your cravings will change. I may still crave the bad stuff, but I am also beginning to crave the good stuff. It’s all about choices. Blueberries are a new favorite for me. During the day I prefer to snack on fruits and vegetables instead of chips, cookies, candy, etc. Even today for Easter dinner the original menu was: ham, rolls, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, and corn (mixed with cream cheese and butter – yum!). While fixing dinner I found myself adding in brussel sprouts (believe me – they can actually be made to be good!) and oven-roasted cauliflower. While I filled my plate with everything – what I enjoyed most was the protein and vegetables. In fact I didn’t even finish the macaroni and cheese. It just didn’t satisfy me like the rest.
I realize some of you in my shoes are probably reading this saying to yourself, “Yeah right – that may be the case for her, but it will never be true for me!” I ask you to just give it a chance. Make a change for a month (they say new habits form in 28 days) and see. It may take longer. I’m still a work in progress. I still have to make those tough decisions. It doesn’t always come easily or naturally for me even after a couple of months. But I have noticed a difference. And that’s what will keep me going. I truly and sincerely hope you make that effort as well if you are where I was a few months ago. Trust me when I say – it is so worth it!