The best way to put me off eating a something is for me to read the ingredients. It works every time. Hydrogenated this, modified that, soy, canola, high fructose corn syrup, there's no shortage of nasties hiding in our food. I know why I avoid these ingredients so when I see them my desire for that food vanishes. At first glance, this seems like a positive but perfectionism can lead me down a rabbit hole of anxiety.
Anxiety over food being cooked in GMO soybean oil when eating, going to someone else’s house to eat and being served a big bowl of pasta. Being unprepared on the road and having to choose the lesser of multiple bad options. Knowing what we know about chronic stress and anxiety and the havoc it can wreak on our health I’ve been trying to address these thoughts. More and more I’m trying to moderate and balance instead of being unfailingly strict.
This doesn't mean that every time I see a candy bar I eat it. Most of the time when an urge to buy one hits me I assess if the item is what I want or if I’m hungry, thirsty, bored, emotional. Maybe I’d be satisfied with grapes, some almond butter or some other healthier alternative that I might still consider a “treat”. Maybe I just need to read a book or go for a walk or talk to someone.
But sometimes despite eating something else we still wind up back at square one and buying the food in question. Or by denying ourselves the food we labelled bad we go completely overboard on something else and overeat. Or we overeat and then still go and get that candy bar to squash the craving. All of these scenarios can leave us with negative feelings, we failed, it’s hopeless, anxiety and stress hit. Obsessing over how we have sabotaged our health goals.
Can I allow myself some grace when dealing with these situations? Can I be more gentle and accepting of the person I am most hard on, myself? What if we ate the damned thing, and just moved on with our lives. Stopped obsessing, stopped counting, stopped worrying, just went on with our day. The emotional freedom technique comes to mind where we just tell ourselves that we are doing the best that we can.
I’ve come to a place now when I can eat an occasional bag of pretzel M&M’s or a Snickers bar or some other totally conventional treat and not read the ingredients. Just make an intentional decision to eat it and be happy in the moment. Then return to your regular every day eating. I remind myself that mindset, attitude and being happy is more important than a treat. Especially when I consistently eat healthily and I am not dealing with any chronic health conditions. Like Salvador Dali said, “have no fear of perfection - you shall never achieve it”.