There are two small decisions I’ve made that I think have improved my food-related health more than anything else. I don’t believe in diets, I’m frankly terrified by the idea of not eating enough to the point where my body decides to change shape to try to keep up. SO. CREEPY. Also, I get dizzy if my blood sugar gets too low. But I am 100% on the eating healthy train, so sometimes I try to think up ways to basically trick myself into eating better.
So I make deals with myself. Since willpower is limited, I figure that hard rules will eventually fail me, or at the very least exhaust me for other tasks. Instead of telling myself “don’t eat that”, I have a deal: I can eat as much junk food as I like, so long as two conditions are met.
First, anything I eat that’s bad for me has to be high quality. It seems silly to spend calories on things like candy bars and chips, which I guess are okay but honestly I’d probably enjoy fruit more. Higher quality junk food also tends to come in smaller portions and / or be more difficult to obtain. For example, if I want high quality cookies, they pretty much have to be homemade. Or from a legit bakery. There are no cookies in most grocery stores that pass my standards, so I don’t buy cookies when I go shopping. And then I can save that cookie money to buy truly amazing cookies later, thus eating less junk food and enjoying it more. Which is a win for me. I can’t be sure, but it doesn’t feel like it takes much willpower to say “Hmmph, that shrink-wrapped Nanaimo bar is beneath me.” Especially when I can just go get something tastier if I want it enough to put in the effort.
The second condition is that I can’t eat bad-for-me foods when I’m hungry. If I stop and eat some real food first, most of the time I realize that I don’t even want junk food, I just want calories. If I do still want the chocolate or whatever it is, I end up eating way less of it, and again, enjoying it more. I think it also results in me eating more real food a lot of the time, which is good because sometimes I forget to eat.
If I ever feel like I’m eating badly, I just raise the bar a little on how delicious junk food has to be to be worth it, or lower the amount of hungry I can be and still go for junk.
I think the best part is that if I’ve fulfilled both conditions, I feel like I truly have permissions to eat as much as I want. End of story. I could eat an entire cake if I wanted. Two entire cakes. Usually it turns out I don’t even want very much, but knowing that I could eat more makes me feel better about stopping. Cake should not ever be a guilty pleasure, it’s a delicious pleasure. I have enough guilt in the rest of my life, thanks.
And seriously, cake is delicious. Speaking of which, I have some trifle waiting for me in the fridge. So now I’m off to eat tangerines and maybe some pasta. Because I’m hungry, and honestly? I’ll enjoy it more another day.