Sunday, September 16, 2007

Don't Be Afraid of FOOD.

I have been thinking a lot about fear. I posted earlier about fear of feelings. How we tend to stuff our feelings by overeating so we can avoid unpleasant emotions. But now, I am thinking about how we as "dieters" can develop a fear of food. Let me explain.

Let's say I am walking in the store and happen to go past the bakery just as they are taking fresh bread, or donuts, out of the oven/frying vat. I know this because suddenly I smell the warm, tempting, aroma of fresh bread or baked goods wafting past. My immediate response is to hold my breath and RUN as far away from the bakery as possible!!!!! If I am walking to the pharmacy, which is located by Pizza Hut, and that delicious scent of grease/pepperoni/sauce/cheese hits me, I do the same thing: hold my breath, look AWAY from the Pizza Hut, and RUSH into the pharmacy as fast as possible, trying not to think about the pizza. This has always been my response to the sight or scent of "bad" foods. Run! Hide! Don't think about it!!

But really, how productive is this behavior? How good is it to live my life running away from foods that I crave but really shouldn't eat? Of course, I am not advocating putting yourself in temptation's way. I certainly would not bring the fresh baked bread, greasy pizza or baked goods into my house. They would last exactly two milliseconds before they became incorporated into my already vast span of hips. But why be afraid of food? Why keep running?

I have been doing something different lately. When I was at the Fair, the smells were everywhere. Onions, peppers and sausages frying; burgers grilling; funnel cakes sizzling; french fries coming out of the grease. I decided to go ahead and enjoy the smells. I walked around, inhaling deeply, "mmmmmmmm-ing" to myself, and looking at the forbidden foods. I knew I was not going to eat them, as I already had something else chosen for my dinner. But the smells were just heavenly! When you can just enjoy the yummy smells without EATING the foods, you have won a major battle!! After all, a large percentage of what we call "taste" is actually smell. Sometimes, people have injuries and lose their sense of smell. Afterwards, nothing tastes right anymore. I knew a guy who lost his smell in a car accident. Afterwards he would salt his food TO DEATH to the point of having piles of salt on his food, because he said it was too bland! Much of the enjoyment we get while eating comes from smelling the food. If you don't believe me, go eat a cinnamon roll with your nose plugged.

The great thing about smelling is, SCENTS HAVE NO CALORIES!!! You can sit and smell a warm pan of brownies for an hour if you want... and boy do they smell GREAT... and when you walk away you are NO heavier, NO less healthy, and have not added a single calorie to your daily allowance! So try it! When you drive past the burger joint and they are piping burger smells into the air around you, just SMELL it. Do not tense up and try to "get away." Just let it be. Let it be an enjoyable thing. Smell those burgers. It does not mean you have to WANT one, or eat one. Just enjoy smelling it. After all, you already know how it would taste, so why waste the calories? And when you are in the mall walking past the Cinnabon store, go ahead, slow down and breathe deeply. ENJOY that wonderful aroma, smile, and move on.

I won't run from food anymore. Life is to be enjoyed, and if we can cultivate the enjoyment of SMELLS over the enjoyment of TASTES, then we can continue to enjoy many foods (in a different way) as we lose weight and be healthy!


Teale said...

This is such a great entry! I would go crazy in the past eating foods because they were tasty. I was so obsessed w/the good taste of things and would get so carried away. Now, I avoid those foods, but you're right, I can enjoy the smell, and that's even more satisfying now, because I can enjoy it and move on!

Once Upon A Dieter said...

Love your attitude. And I've seen too many "afraid to eat" and "afraid to enjoy food" type people getting crazy about eating, moving into Eating Disorder territory.

No, I am not going there. Food gives pleasure and life and energy. I want to eat well and learn to eat less, but I'm always gonna enjoy the beauties of food. I consider it a gift from God.

BTW, congrats on the wonderful, steady, sane weight loss.

You gave me a bit of good cheer and inspiration today. Thanks.

The Princess

honib1 said...

You know.. I had to develope that attitude too.. I really had to relearn that there truthfully is no bad food.. it is simply food I choose to eat.. and food I choose not to eat. I also have learned that when I choose to indulge the portion is reasonable and only one serving sometimes just a bite or two will do .. and sometimes its a whole piece... I like having things to indulge in once in a while.. it makes it sort of fun.. and I dont have to feel as if I am denying myeslf anymore.. I spent 44 years denying myself food and all i got was a fat ass... now I am treating food equally and making choices.. and that ass is getting you my friend are on the ball... great attitude

Lady T said...

you've made a good point here...i do run....i think its bc i dont trust myself. i dont trust myself to "just smell". i am too weak at this point. sitting around and sniffing may lead to me at the counter and buying...and then eating.

though its intriguing...i may try it. i'll report my findings when i do.

Twix said...

I too was afraid. I had been out of the major city for 2 weeks. I was scared to go becuse I would smell all that fast food. I knew I would salivate and go crazy with desire of wanting everything I was smelling. Especially french fries! It is very hard to deny it. But it gets easier with practice. And after awhile you can enjoy just smelling. Oh and maybe, just maybe a little taste. Key word little, lol. I like the way you put all this. Smelling a warm pan full of brownies and walking away afterwards is great!

Scale Junkie said...

You are absolutely right about this. One of the hardest things for me when I had gone on low fat or low carb in the past was one smell of a "forbidden food" and I'd be in the express lane with a pizza and double brownie fudge explosion double quick. I've changed my attitude about food and given myself permission to eat and I've found that most of the time I don't want the foods that aren't on my diet and staying on plan feels better!

Chubby Chick said...

I totally get what you're saying. But... hmmm... I don't think I've ever really been afraid of food. I think food has been more afraid of me. lol

Heather said...

That is a great post! I think what you wrote is very true. We tend to associate these foods as bad. while they are not the greatest usually, in moderation they are not our enemy and certainly smelling them doesnt hurt any. I think we are just afraid we will smell them and then want to eat them.

MB said...

First time visitor - I'll be back to read more.

On one of my previous attempts at weight loss I didn't eat bread for over a year. I can remember going to my favorite Italian restaurant, getting a piece of hot, fresh bread, breaking it open and sniffing it like it was a long lost lover. I don't know how I completely resisted it for so long. I didn't eat it that night though - the smell was enough.