April 5th, 2012
by Jodi · Filed Under: Nutrition
I started to open this series up with a ton of science on our brains that shows how we are hard wired to desire certain types of foods and how these foods affect our emotions so we desire them more and so on and so forth. However, I kept coming back to the same place of debunking some kind of crazy myth that we all seem to buy into that has been perpetuated by the powers that be and has secretly tormented us over the years. I finally came to the conclusion that I need to debunk the myths first.
It is no mystery to any of us that we care about how we look. We also love the satisfaction of a good workout, the feeling of being fit and the distinction of being different than the rest of the population. With that love comes the heavy burden of trying to stick to a challenging diet for a long period of time: no processed food, limited starches, limited sweets and low fat choices with very little support from outside of the clean community. This is not the haven we thought it would be when we first signed up for this lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but I know I thought this would be easy because I would feel great all the time and wouldn’t want unhealthy food because I was now “so healthy”. I had no idea what I was in for the first time I broke my diet. All I know is I started in the morning with Dunkin’ Donuts and ended in the evening with Bertucci’s and everything in between was a blurr. That was 9 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday, although, that could be because there was butter involved. Shhh.
When I first started dieting, I did it for a very specific reason so the means justified the ends. I was a fitness competitor and the protocol was that you needed to torture yourself with dieting in order to get on stage or else you were not getting on stage. Or let me say, I wasn’t getting on stage. I don’t know if everyone shared my same views back then. But there was an obvious reason for my very bland, boring diet that lacked variety, starch and fat. Fast forward to present day and my diet, although still clean, looks very different than it did back then. Flavor, texture, fat, balance and quantity vary all the time and that is something that has mattered far more than anything when it comes to me sticking to this eating lifestyle. The majority of us who can’t stick to it long term or find ourselves struggling all the time are over dieting for the results that we desire. If you say to me that you do not want to get on stage and you are not eating sodium, still eating tuna from a can or packet or follow any bogus diet in a magazine, we really need to talk.
This industry (meaning clean eating) it what it is because of competitors and fitness models. You can thank both men and women alike that don the cover of magazines and strut across stages for our initial desire to enter into this way of eating. Even if you are a runner/athlete, you have been enticed to this way of living because that’s how your favorite athletes are maintaining their weight, as well. However, we want their look without the stage or the lights and believe to get that we need to follow their diet, or their method of dieting, *all* the time. Not so, says I. Also, this industry is full of “diets” but then refer to them as a lifestyle. You cannot have a lifestyle of dieting (in the noun sense)—that’s a nightmare waiting to happen. At some point we need to learn how to *live* this life instead of hopping on a diet for 12 weeks, off a diet into a pit of sugar for 8 weeks, back on the diet to negate all that we did in the pit, back off of the diet again into sheer anger and frustration and so on. Or better yet, live in maintenance hell where you are constantly wondering if you are doing enough to stay where you want to be so you do more, crash, do more, crash, etc.
There are many things we need to consider when eating like this: flavor, texture, variety and balance are a great place to start. We also need to think about serotonin, dopamine, estrogen and galanin when it comes to the brain stuff and lastly, sodium, sugar and fat are beyond important to our long term survival. Magazines like to talk in terms of recipes and nutritional sound bites, your friends will talk in terms of suffering, the internet is going to show you how much you suck at doing this but I’m going to talk about this as a living, breathing thing that must be learned and nurtured to be accomplished. Are you ready? Woop woop!!