I’ve spent the majority of my adult life failing at diets. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think I ever lasted more than 2 weeks on a diet. The counting and measuring was too laborious and the restriction was suffocating. Plus, I couldn’t stop drinking. When I entered therapy for my eating last year I already knew that diets didn’t work, so I was relieved to swear them off forever.
Today I confuse myself because I follow a paleo diet probably 95% of the time. When I first decided to go paleo, I was really conflicted because of my pledge. Later I did a Whole30 and further baffled and questioned myself. Was I dieting? Was I restricting? Was it going to lead to a backlash binge? So far (it’s been about 6 months) I haven’t had any retaliation eating. Sometimes an urge might come up, but I’m usually able to identify an emotional cause and work through it. I want to roll my own eyes at myself when I justify my nutrition plan with, “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle,” but I think that is the truth.
Although I choose to not eat grains, legumes, soy, refined sugars and I limit dairy, the reality is that I give myself permission to have whatever I want at any given time. The caveat is that I have to be aware of the consequences of what I put in my body. “This will make you fat,” is not a consequence. It’s shaming, mean and puts me into an immediate state of longing. Today I was driving home from the gym, knew I needed some protein but didn’t want to cook. I passed by Zankou Chicken, thought about stopping in and thought, “That will give you garlic breath.” Now there is a concrete consequence. I have shit to do tomorrow, I can’t be blowing dragon breath on people. Because of Whole30 I know that gluten gives me tiny, itchy bumps on my cheeks, peanuts give me heartburn, soy cause huge zits, vegetable oil upsets my stomach, etc. Suddenly these foods have very real consequences. So when I crave something, I have to weigh whether the taste pleasure is worth the suffering that will come later. When I pause, I’m usually able to make the kind choice for myself.
Then there is sugar. I think that beast deserves its own post.
If you’re not from LA and, therefore, haven’t ever gotten down with some Zankou Chicken, it even gets a mention in one of my favorite songs of all time.