Today, I'm thinking about food -- specifically, about eating anything I want without giving a thought to anything other than the fact that I want it. Still with me? That was a little confusing, I know. Let me try to explain.
I witnessed an interesting experiment of sorts here yesterday. After almost five long years of various orthodontic treatments, my 12-year-old daughter had her braces removed (I can't stop staring at her gorgeous smile, but that's another story...). As we checked out at the doctor's office, the receptionist handed her a congratulatory bag filled with the "forbidden fruit" of orthodontic patients -- Tootsie Rolls, Starburst, gum, M&Ms and other assorted sticky, hard treats. I wish I'd taken a picture of the way her eyes lit up when she saw that bag and realized that her days of denying herself were over.
She'd broken into it already by the time we got in the car and she happily gorged on the way home. But she soon abandoned the bag and said, "That stuff's kind of gross."
The whole experience got me thinking about the concept of forbidden foods, and how denying ourselves what we want can really backfire. I had a similar experience at the end of writing the Weight-Loss Diary column for Shape magazine. After 12 months of healthy eating, tough gym workouts, monthly weigh-ins and photos, I just didn't want to think about any of it anymore. I wanted to eat whatever I wanted, when I wanted.
So I did. And guess what? I soon found myself thinking, "This stuff's kind of gross."
Over time, I've realized that I feel better when I stick to the healthy eating habits I learned during my Shape year. But now, I've incorporated the flexibility and freedom to fully enjoy a treat when I want it. No more forbidden foods means no more fixation on them, too. Staying at a healthy weight is a much more intuitive process when I simply listen to what my body is telling me. Watching my daughter experience that bag of candy was a great reminder that sometimes, when we repeatedly tell ourselves we can't have something, we want it all the more -- even if we don't want it.