From time to time, I decide to self-sabotage.
I eat really healthy food.
I live a REALLY healthy lifestyle.
Yet sometimes, I feel like eating crap. It happens. The cravings come (for good reason, which I'll explain) and I succumb. Before you gasp in astonishment, I want to explain.
Because I have worked for many years to eat an extremely clean and intentional diet, I forget what it feels like to have the common symptoms associated with the "average American diet". You need not be a native citizen to join in this joyless dietary experience, you just need to be eating what is commonly available in our pharmacies, restaurants, grocery stores and thusly our homes. Race, ethnicity and culture certainly affect each person's experience, but if you're walking around the streets of this country and purchasing the "food" in the pharmacies, conventional supermarkets and fast food/chain restaurants and ingesting it---you are eating the "typical American diet".
If you're eating outside of that, I applaud you. You should be my friend if you aren't already.
Knowing all this, I still decide to succumb to the little devil on my shoulder who says, "you want to eat that" when passing a donut store or a box of Junior Mints on sale at CVS. Why do I succumb?
For two very good reasons:
Cravings, contrary to popular belief, are our friends. People associate them with "being bad" or "that time of the month" but really, cravings get a bad reputation. They are nature's built-in alarm system for when something is amiss in our wee bods. When we are deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral, or low on fiber, complex carbs or fat--our bodies turn on the alarm system to let us know. It shows up as a craving. The problem is the wiring. We often misinterpret the signal and reach for the wrong foods. I talk to my clients about this extensively as part of my health coaching program so I won't reveal too many details in this post, but suffice it to say that we can and SHOULD be reaching for the right foods when cravings strike. With the right education, we can deconstruct each craving to know what we need, when we need it and why. Like any normal person, I don't always eat a perfectly balanced diet and get cravings for this reason. And that is one reason why I eat crap.
2) SOCIAL EXPERIMENT
You might be asking yourself, "if she's so smart, why does she eat crap instead of the right foods?" That is a really good question. The answer is even better.
I eat overly processed and heavily sugared food to keep reminding myself of how horrible it feels. When you begi to eat clean, healthy and adequate nutrition in the form of whole foods (fruits, veggies, farm-raised meat and whole grains) you very quickly forget how unsatisfying the other food can be and horrible you may feel after eating it. Rather like when you're healthy you forget the horrors of the sinus infection, and when you have a sinus infection, you forget what it's like to breathe.
It's a lot like that.
So, from time to time, I decide to participate in a social experiment to reacquaint myself with the symptoms of eating total and complete garbage food. Food that is way too high in sugar, salt and has been processed into oblivion, which is most of what is available to the average person living and eating in America. I was raised on this food, so it's quite familiar to me, and some of this stuff still has a special place in my heart--even though it may contribute to higher cholesterol or weight gain. Headaches. Aches. Pains. Acne. Dizziness. The list goes on and on.
Occasionally I eat those foods again to remind myself of how my present and future clients feel daily so they believe me when I tell them that I "feel their pain".
Long story short, I did this on Friday. I decided to go all out and eat some "foods" (I put that word in quotes because there was nothing really nutritious about the things I ate) that I knew to be the opposite of my daily choices. By 9:42 pm that night I literally crashed in my bed only to wake up at 4:00 am with a gut-wrenching ache, unable to sleep for another hour. When I did awake around 7:30 am, I had a food hangover the rest of the day. Much like a hangover from alcohol, the effects were a foggy head, aches and pains in my muscles and joints, sensitivity to light and noise and I could not drink water fast enough. I felt like a camel just in from the desert after a month.
Great experiment. Great data.
Won't be doing that again for another month or more.
Why are so many people doing it every day of their lives?
If you're interested in learning more about anything I wrote, or how to stop eating food that may be causing symptoms you aren't digging, contact me this moment.