Eating what you Love, Loving what you Eat
Recently, I was chatting with some of the Italian ladies I work out with, and they wanted to know a bit about my “diet.” Most Italians are skeptical of diets that are “fai da te” (DIY) and will see a doctor/nutritionist if they’re serious about going on one. Those who I have known on Italian diets have strict and explicit instructions, down to the gram/ounce, of foods that can be eaten and those which should be avoided.
But since I wanted to make a lifestyle change, I knew that any changes I made had to not feel as if I was following some sort of regiment because once it’s broken, it feels like a failure of sorts. I wanted to have some flexibility, some room to experiment, to make mistakes, and still be “on plan.”
One of the things that was important for me, other than knowing when I am hungry (which my food journaling helped me realize), is recognizing what I enjoy eating.
Sounds like it’s not even a concept, right? “Of course you know what you enjoy eating!” you think. But in reality, I think I was eating a lot of things because they were there. I was hungry, or it was just there, or someone had a birthday, or was giving out a sample, or offered to buy one for me, etc.
When I started to look at what I eat, and what I might consider reducing or cutting out, I also started to look at what I would miss. What would I really hate to not eat anymore?
I’m not talking about all fat or all sugar or all sweets. And I’m not talking about likes and dislikes. And I’m not talking about high-calorie vs. low-calorie foods. I’m talking about this sweet vs. this one, this one vs. this one. The “YES I love this!!” and the “it’s ok, but not great.”
For example, I answer “YES!” to pizza. To gelato. To some forms of chocolate. Ok, to most forms of chocolate. To some fried things.
And I answer “ok” to cookies. To almost all bread. To almost all types of pasta. To most pastries.
The past me would have eaten all of them. The now me chooses which things I really enjoy, so that when I eat something that is more indulgent or as part of my “20%” I know I’m eating something I really want.
This week in New York, I headed to the Doughnut Plant, which was someplace I had wanted to visit for a while (I do enjoy donuts, but eat them only about twice a year). Eating one doughnut was still “on plan” and ok, so I made my choice and sat down to eat it. Turns out I didn’t like my choice. No fault of Doughnut Plant but it just wasn’t the right one for me. So after that first bite, I threw it away.
I said once to a friend after I threw away an entire gelato cone: “I know I’ve got a little extra padding, but I want to be happy with every extra millimeter on my body. It better have gotten there for something delicious instead of something that was just ok.” I don’t have a problem with throwing away mediocre food, especially if it’s high calorie.
Now I’m not saying that eating your “YES!” foods and not eating your “ok” foods is somehow healthier but what I am saying is that may you should take some time to identify foods which you really enjoy and understand others whose loss wouldn’t be such a big deal. It may also help you in the face of temptation and in balancing out your days and weeks – often I choose to skip a breakfast pastry knowing I may have a gelato later that day, or eat a salad at lunch if I know we are eating pizza at dinner. I almost categorically leave all bread on the table and prefer not to eat sandwiches – again, not because I think bread is evil (ok, it’s not great either) but also because I don’t enjoy it that much.
How does this reasoning sound to you? Crazy? Controversial? What are your YES!! vs. ok foods?