I don’t know about you, but I look forward to eating. Every meal is 15-30 minutes of pure heaven where I’m clocked out from life and all that matters is me and my fork. With that in mind, I only prepare food that I can be excited about eating! After my struggles with consistent and sustainable dieting in the past, I live by the concept of “eat more good stuff and less bad stuff”. Dieting is a balancing act inside your head. I don’t believe you can eat 100% good stuff and be truely satisfied, and I know from experience that eating 100% bad stuff will leave you bloated, sick, and unhappy. I had my work cut out for me when I started my diet, because growing up “vegetables” meant either canned green beans or buttered corn. As a child, I had never been exposed to healthy foods except for the few times when my Uncle David came to town and gave me grammar lessons at the dinner table over a steaming plate of asparagus and artichokes (which I still hate, sorry Uncle David).
When I started my diet, I knew I needed to prepare nutritious meals that would not only fill me up, but also discourage my long-standing affair with drive-through restaurants. With visions of Pinterest meals dancing in my head, I drove to Starbucks with a notepad, a pen, and a 100% charge on my iPhone. I got to work, Frappuccino in hand, scrolling through various sights writing down ONLY the things that actually looked appetizing to me. When I got done, I looked at my list and was shocked. It was foods I already liked eating, but prepared in a healthy way! I made my way to HEB late that night to ensure I would be one of the only people in the store and could take my sweet time looking at the labels on the food I was considering. It took me several hours, but I made what I thought were healthy selections and went home to prepare the meals for my first week on my diet.
Starting out, I prepared a lot of steamed vegetables and granola bars. Not joking. That’s what I saw heathy people eating, so that’s what I prepped. However, I realized that as the week went on and I grew tired of the bland meals in my lunch box, I was more vulnerable to cheating and ultimately falling off the diet wagon for good. I noticed my body craving carbs, sugar, and meat on a daily basis, even when my belly was full from a recent meal. I know that when pregnant women crave weird things, it’s because their body is lacking a mineral found in that food. So with that concept in mind, I altered my very strict diet to include food I’m eating today, like whole wheat tortillas, high fiber blueberry muffins and sourdough pretzels.
Imagine a smoker whose been smoking for years. They are without a doubt addicted to the nicotine in their cigarettes. Now imagine that person stopping cold turkey. The nicotine cravings would be horrible (which is why most people start smoking and never stop). New studies support the idea that a body can become addicted to refined sugars and caffeine just like it can become addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. My body was taking in between 3000 and 5000 calories a day, most of that being carbs and sugars. To try to stop that intake cold turkey and go to fruits and vegetables wasn’t healthy for my body and it was downright destructive to my mindset. Looking back, I realized I could not have made a better executive decision. For me, the choice was easy. It was a choice between eating vegetables and granola bars and inevitably cheating several times a week, or making meals I enjoyed with a healthy serving of carbs and lean meats.
This won’t be my diet forever. I’m slowly adjusting my carb and sugar intake, such as a smoker might adjust their cigarette consumption when trying to quit. My mother always taught me to listen to my body – and that principle has truly shaped the way I diet today. My body tells me it needs carbs, I give it carbs. My body tells me it needs caffeine, I give it caffeine. And since I have started allowing my body small, healthy portions of carbs and caffeine, my cravings for fast food and processed drinks have decreased almost to the point where I don’t have any at all (maybe one a week).
Allowing my body to have healthy amounts of carbs has played a monumental role in my weight loss. I truly cannot hype this enough. I no longer cheat during the week and when I go out to restaurants on the weekends, it’s second nature for me to choose a healthy option whereas before I might have overindulged and ordered the worst thing on the menu without a second thought. Dieting does not have to be a death sentence to you happiness. I guess sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it, too.
I already know what happens when I give up. I want to see what will happen if I don't.