As I mentioned in my introduction video, there are two important aspects to eating healthy. One is the secret to liking food that’s good for you, which I’ve already covered. The other is figuring out how to eat food that’s exclusively for enjoyment.
In case you are not aware, I don’t believe people can (or perhaps should) eat perfectly healthy 100% of the time. After all, sometimes we choose food for emotional or social reasons. And yet, we have to limit those times if we really want to be the healthiest, most vibrant versions of ourselves.
So, how do we eat healthy without feeling deprived? How do we indulge from time to time without going off the rails? Can we really have our cake and eat it too? (Which is kind of a dumb expression when you think about it because who owns cake without eating it?!?)
Here are my top four suggestions for continuing to eat food that’s purely for pleasure while also striving for optimal health:
- Every day: Be mindful about why you are eating each food.
Here’s the thing: Eating food sometimes that has little to no nutritional value is not a problem, so long as you are eating real food, know why you are eating it… and enjoy every bite. The problems start when we unconsciously eat, as this often involves food that doesn’t nourish our bodies, minds, emotions or spirits. After all, when was the last time you rummaged in the fridge for a late-night snack of celery?
- Every week: Decide on which days of the week you will allow yourself to indulge.
You may have heard someone say they only allow themselves snacks and sweets on days that start with S (i.e., the weekend). Using this approach puts parameters around when you can have certain foods, which automatically puts them in the “sometimes” category.
Professionally, I think this can work for some people. Personally, I don’t like it as it doesn’t allow for the nuances of my life that might include a Wednesday night dinner with friends or a PMS-driven “need” for chocolate. That being said it works for some people. And, as with all of my suggestions, you can decide if this works for you.
- Every month: Use a sticker calendar to see how you are doing over time.
This may seem like a silly suggestion as sticker charts are supposed to be for kids. And this is one that I have been using for years to keep myself on track, as is evidenced by the photo above.
My two non-nutritious pleasures are dessert and wine. So each day that I don’t have dessert, I get a sticker; and each day I don’t have alcohol, I get a sticker. Having it on my calendar allows me to see the big picture about my habits and ensure that my “sometimes” treats don’t become “almost always” vices.
- Every year: Implement a temporary moratorium on all strictly pleasurable foods.
Experience tells me that the partaking of purely pleasurable foods and drinks increases over time. Our taste buds get used to the sweeter / saltier / fattier flavor; our microbiota changes to those that prefer junk food; and the pleasure center of our brains gets desensitized (meaning we need more in order to feel the same reward).
For over 10 years, I have done a twice yearly cleanse to break “bad” habits, reset my taste buds and remember the real pleasure that yummy treats can bring. Not only is it a great reset for my body, but it also resets how my mind thinks about food.
If you’ve never done a whole food cleanse and want guidance through the process, then my online group cleansing program is for you. Check out the details and tell me you want to be informed when registration opens again.