Are there any foods or food groups that you have a blanket rule against eating? I used to be this person – I would never eat pasta, bread or sugar. If one of these foods touched my lips, I would feel so guilty about it and would make it my mission to get straight back on the ‘clean eating’ bandwagon.
These days, while I still follow a very clean way of eating, I am nowhere near as militant as I used to be. Yes, I avoid dairy, sugar and gluten the majority of time however there will be occasions where I will enjoy a pizza (with both gluten and cheese!) or have treat days where I will eat gelati, frozen yoghurt with toppings or chocolate. On these occasions, I make sure I really enjoy this indulgence. I recognise that these foods aren’t things that are meant to be eaten every day so the times I do eat them, I slow down and savour the texture and flavour.
Having blanket rules around eating certain foods is dangerous. Restrict yourself from something long enough and you will eventually fold – and the result will be an enormous binge from which you struggle to recover from days after. Binge eating is destructive. It will throw your appetite out of whack (generally making you hungrier than normal in the days following the binge) and also accelerates cravings. Try going for weeks and weeks on end without sugar before binging on lollies and chocolate and see how much you crave it a week later.
A much smarter approach to food is to indulge, but only sometimes. If you are out at a nice restaurant that offers a specialty dessert, you don’t have to restrict yourself on the basis that you are not eating a certain food group. Eat a little, experience the flavour, then stop. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, eat the whole thing – but stop there. Return to your healthy eating habits the next day and for the rest of the week and nothing will be lost.
Know the foods you love and use those as your special occasion dishes. Don’t make your treat meal something you don’t particularly enjoy. This will just leave you unsatisfied, after consuming wasted calories, and still reaching for the one thing that you really crave.
Do me a favour and please never restrict yourself from any foods. You can enjoy what you like, just in moderation and at the right occasion.