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 out, going to someone else’s house to eat and being served a big bowl of something I’ve decided not to eat that week. Being unprepared on the road and having to choose the lesser of multiple bad options at a service station. 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.
Eat the candy - sometimes
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 more nutritious 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.
Progress over perfection
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. Can I just look at myself in the mirror and say “I’m doing the best that I 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 my regularly scheduled programming. I remind myself that mindset, attitude and being happy is more important than a treat. Especially when I consistently eat nutrient dense food and I am not dealing with any chronic health conditions.