I have noticed that lots of us struggle with certain foods over and over and over again. There even seems to be a common theme: sugar/fat/salt. I've written before about about the physical whys of this phenomenon (thank you Dr. Kessler), but looking at the practical issues of eating, I find myself asking: Must I eliminate these foods? Or is there a way to moderate them?
We talk about "trigger" foods: ones that set you off into overeating or getting into a mental state of wanting to eat more. Some foods are just so yummy you don't want to stop eating them. For me, one of these foods is cheese.
Here is my issue. It is EASY for me to look at something like sodas or Snickers bars or Little Debbie Cakes and KNOW they are just all-around bad for me. They have no redeeming qualities. They are ALL negative for me. If I eat a Swiss Cake Roll, it does *nothing* for my body; it just causes inflammation and makes my joints hurt, makes my stomach ache, gives me a sugar-withdrawal headache the next day, and sets me up to want to eat more and more junk. So I can easily get my mind around eliminating them. It doesn't bother me to say I will never drink another soda, or eat another Snickers bar. I can make a rule that if I want a sugary sweet, it has to be *worth it* to me. It has to be *special*, gourmet, or homemade... not run of the mill grocery store junk. And I have to stop at a single portion. I can do that..
But what about other foods that GRIP you, make you want to eat more, yet are not so cut-and-dried "junk"? What about things that do have nutritional value, that *are* part of the general diet you grew up on, that are perhaps comfort foods your family loved? There are a lot of foods that have mixed research on whether they are healthy or evil; some people swear off wheat, others eat no grains, some avoid all beef or even all meat, while others eat no dairy. But what if you haven't eliminated whole foods groups from your diet? How do you deal with those foods that you might consider healthy, but when you eat them, you just want to eat MORE?
For me, it has always been cheese. I have loved cheese since childhood. All kinds of cheese! I can just sit and eat slice after slice on its own, or a bowl of grated cheddar, or have it with crackers or melted on a bagel. My biggest comfort foods include it: macaroni and cheese, lasagna, pizza, twice baked potatoes. I have switched to reduced-fat cheese over the past two years, but I still have a hard time keeping to a single portion. That's a big issue when you're dealing with something as calorie-dense as cheese.
Do I stop eating cheese altogether? Do I save it for special occasions? What about those super comforting, delicious recipes I love?
My solution so far has been to cut out the parts of the recipes that "bother" me (seem to trigger that urge to eat more) such as pasta and potatoes. My cauliflower mac n cheese is just as yummy as the noodled version, but it does not trigger me into eating second and third helpings.
So part of the answer is to find substitutes for those grippy foods. But sometimes, there *is* no substitute. What about warm, homemade, white bread, freshly baked and slathered with butter? My heavens, just thinking about it sets off pathways in my brain that I don't want lit up. I used to bake homemade bread often. And it was nothing for me to eat half a loaf right out of the oven. I'd eat a whole loaf if I could get away with it. So I had to stop baking bread. I know that if I baked a loaf of white bread today, the ONLY thing that would stop me from eating half of it would be the embarrassment of the kids asking who ate half the loaf. I have a *very* hard time moderating that food. So I have eliminated it. I will only allow myself hot fresh bread in a circumstance where I *cannot* eat more than one slice, such as in a group of people or at someone else's home. No way am I baking white bread alone at my house again, ever.
There are other foods I had to give up in order to control my reactions to them: fried chicken, french fries, donuts, pork sausage, and pretty much all pasta. I just cannot moderate those things. I am okay with them being literally off the table.
So I guess my solution is
1) find substitutes
2) eliminate the total junk
3) moderate the good stuff
4) cut out the uncontrollable
How about you? What foods grip you if you eat a small portion of them? What have you chosen to eliminate, and why?
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