Have you ever tried a “guilt-free” alternative to one of your favorite foods?
The idea goes that if Food A (the one allegedly deserving of guilt) has 666 calories, but Food B (the one not branded with the mark indicating its guilt) has 500 calories, then Food B MUST be the better choice.
Sure, in theory, you’re saving a significant number of calories. But what REALLY happens?
If you’re like most people, you’ve found that it isn’t necessarily an “either/or” situation.
You have the “guilt-free” food, and THEN you have the “guilt-rich” food.
Instead of 666 calories of the evil, rotten, no-good food…it’s 1,166 from both.
Now, you might be thinking “that means I am even more guilty”…
1) Calories have no moral value. I am a nutrition and weight loss coach, not a professor of theology or a priest.
2) The lesson here isn’t one of your unworthiness… it’s a lesson of what happens when you try to deprive yourself of vitamin P.
Vitamin P, as described in “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole, is pleasure.
Pleasure is an essential part of the experience of eating. If you want to be romantic about it, you could say that vitamin p feeds your soul whereas other nutrients feed your body.
When you deny yourself vitamin P, you set the stage for short-term overeating and long term weight challenges.
1) You waste calories on a thing you don’t want in addition to having the thing you want. This is the scenario I described above where you consumed “guilt free” calories that failed to hit the spot.
2) You eat more food than you would otherwise, in an attempt to get the necessary level of satisfaction. Satisfaction is a physical experience as well as an emotional experience. You’re going to feel more satisfied from an 800 calorie 1.25 lb burrito with your favorite ingredients than you will from an 800 calorie 1.25 lb burrito with ingredients that you don’t like (I’m looking at you, barbacoa).
3) You make it easier to “fall off the wagon” and harder to “get back on track” with your diet. If you have a list of foods that you love that constitute not being on your nutrition plan, you’re going to constantly feel a tug to get off that plan. It’s like being at a party where on half of the room, you have broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower mingling with each other (side note: cauliflower is hilarious). And in the other half of the room, chocolate, cookies, and candies are hanging out together. You have to make a choice of who you spend your time with. And then you can’t just quickly switch from giving chocolate your attention to giving spinach your attention, you have to make the journey from hanging out with the “off plan” crowd to moving on to the “on plan” crowd. And considering how needy chocolate can be, it feels like a big dramatic action.
1) Let go of the idea of “on plan” foods and “off plan” foods. Some foods you eat more of and some foods you eat less of. And when food is just food, it’s easier to create the balance you need
2) Eat mindfully and “savor the flavor”. Wallowing in shame and guilt while eating a meal that is high in vitamin P is like deep frying your broccoli. Your broccoli had the potential to be a great source of vitamin C, but now it’s been dramatically reduced. Don’t let shame and guilt fry the pleasure out of your meal. Give yourself permission to fully experience every flavor and texture. When you do this, you won’t need as much to feel satisfied from the meal.
3) Work on making your high-nutrient foods more pleasurable. If the choice is plain chicken breast and broccoli or a bag of cookies, you have yourself a dilemma. But if you have a delicious meal that incorporates chicken breast and broccoli (among other ingredients), you’re already getting some vitamin p from the meal. “Treat foods” shouldn’t be your only source for pleasure.
If this all sounds well and good, but the idea of allowing treat foods to fit into your life in a balanced way just seems too out of reach, I can help you identify the factors that are making moderation more difficult than it has to be and create a plan to get you moving towards your goals and trusting your food choices. Go here >> 90-Day Weight Loss Habit Success Program.
Here’s what one member of this program found. Note: at no point have we outlawed any foods or created any other restrictive diet rules.
Here’s the link again >>90-Day Weight Loss Habit Success Program <<