Dabble or Turn Away?

Why is it so hard to live in this world that’s packed with restaurants, fast food places, bakeries on every corner and candy on every shelf in every store? I think it’s so hard because it’s so completely abnormal. It’s not real in any sense of the word. It’s only been “real” in the past century or so.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I must be strange or odd because I have no interest in eating anything that I don’t make myself. Eating for entertainment is simply not any fun at all anymore-it’s what’s taken so much of my life away. I’ve been wondering, is what I’m doing “normal”? Will I revert back in the future? Personally, as far as it’s possible to see into the future, I don’t think that I will, I feel I’ve turned the corner.

I think that trying to watch our intake of cream cheese, bagels, donuts and candy bars and hamburgers and fries and Doritos is the wrong approach to take. Until the past 150 years or so these sorts of things weren’t available, they weren’t an option so we didn’t have to avoid them and we didn’t have them as “treats” or sadly, as a regular part of our diets.

My thought lately is, why can’t we just live our lives nutritionally as our great Grandparents did, as people have done for hundreds and thousands of years: eating whole foods and things made out of whole foods? Why can’t we see “going out to eat” as an oddity, eating jelly beans and Krispy Kream donuts as being something that’s really out of the realm of what we would consider eating? Instead, we feel really tragically sorry for ourselves because we can’t eat pizza when other people are and we HAVE to eat a salad while co-workers are eating chicken nuggets with fries on the side.

I KNOW that you can take all sorts of good, healthy ingredients and make any number of dishes that will clog your heart up pronto. I get that. What I’m trying to address is that deep-seated thought that it’s somehow our right to have chocolate chip cookies or potato chips or deli meats; that it’s not fair if we can’t have them, that we should juggle our food for the day and make it work so that we can “at least” have an ice cream bar for desert.

I’ve been there, for decades. I’ve been wondering lately if this is the thing “they” talk about when they say you have to “make a total lifestyle change” in order to keep the lost weight off. It feels a little like being an addict and an addict can’t have just a little bit of their drug, can they?

Do you flirt with sweets and snack foods or do you turn away from them completely? CAN you flirt with these foods, these products of the corporate food giants, and still maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness? I know that some people can, maybe most people can, but if you have a problem with these foods, can you dabble with them, or would you do better to turn away and to consider them as something that you’d have once in a blue moon-something that you shun? Wouldn’t it be better to find or create healthy foods that you love just as much? Is it possible to make this much of a lifestyle change? To change the way you see food in this world?

I don’t see myself as a perfectionist, I do eat those “treat” things from time to time and I don’t get my panties in a knot over calories consumed every day, though I do track them daily. I hope you get where I’m coming from. In my mind, it seems a wholesome shift to think back to the time my Grandmother was alive. My family comes from a long line of farmers and they didn’t pop into town and buy Ho-Ho’s and bags of Fritos, they cooked their own food and they worked hard to put it on the table, appreciating everything they have.

I see the opposite mindset as well, allowing “treats” on a regular and constant basis…which seems to almost always lead to not being able to lose any weight, which leads to not being able to maintain a healthy weight and then often, leads to rebounding into weight gain in big ways. So today, I’m just presenting another viewpoint and I would like to hear what others go by and why. I’ve been wanting to write this post for about 4 weeks now but have been thinking about it for while, getting it straight in my own mind. I’m pretty certain that most people will disagree with me, but I’ve always marched to the beat of a different drummer in everything I’ve done and, for the most part, I’ve never been sorry about that.

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About Fit Living Daily

I love healthy living! I've been married for 35 years and have 2 grown children, one in Albuquerque, NM and one in Washington state. We are currently living in Washington for my husband's job---until he FINALLY retires, but our house is in Albuquerque.
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3 Responses to Dabble or Turn Away?

  1. Jennifer says:

    It’s an excellent post, and I can tell you put a lot of thought into it. I’ve taken the route of least resistance, and for me that is trying to exercise more and eat smaller portions. But, it is (for the most part) just smaller portions of the same foods I have always enjoyed. I figured it would be easier to succeed if I didn’t have to give up so much.

    Now, that said, perhaps after the weight loss goal is achieved, I will be better able to handle another change, one that involves a heathier menu all the way around. And, rather than just eating 10 corn chips instead of half a bag, or a quarter cup of ice cream instead of a cereal bowl-full, or a side salad instead of French Fries when I go to McDonalds, perhaps I will be able to eliminate salty chips, ice cream and fast food completely. After all, I could begin to associate oven-roasted vegetables, frozen yogurt and home-cooked meals with the happy thoughts surrounding those other things now.

    Comfort foods are ingrained in us. We associate food with celebrations, good times, entertaining. At parties we have cakes, cookies, pies, pizza, soda, potato chips… all the bad stuff. Sure, there are types of parties where the food served is more elegant, more refined, and better for you, but except for grandma’s home-cookied holiday feasts (where the food is not junk food but isn’t really all that healthy either!) most of the parties I’ve attended or that kids growing up these days attend involve high-fat, high-calorie stuff that clogs your arteries and rots your teeth.

    I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life, and never tried drugs of any kind. But, because they are both habit-forming, often started out of peer pressure or a social setting and hard to break, I guess I can sympathize with those that attempt smoking cessation gradually (like going from two packs per day down to one and then from one pack down to a half dozen cigs per day) rather than try to quit cold turkey. My father-in-law quit smoking and drinking cold turkey on the same day and was “clean and sober” until the day he died. I give him a lot of credit. I’m not sure I could do it, nor do I think most people can. I think quitting cold turkey is an all-or-nothing, do-or-die proposition. Failure at something that is all-or-nothing doesn’t leave any room for setbacks or slips. Sure, a person can just try again, but if instead they could see it as three steps forward two steps back, there is that incremental progress that keeps them going.

    I know when I slip up, like I did today by deciding it was ok to eat a half-container of movie theater popcorn when I took my daughter to see Alice in Wonderland, I quickly forgive myself, tell myself how it was wrong and what I could have done better (like buy a small bag instead of the big bucket of popcorn) and then move on. I don’t let it defeat me! I made a mistake, but I don’t feel like a failure. If I had started my diet by telling myself I couldn’t get snacks at a movie theater, I would have more likely felt like one.

    Not sure if that helps. I tend to ramble.

    Ideally, one would make the healthy lifestyle change you mention and turn away rather than dabble. It is better for the environment and economy in the long run. Not to mention how it would solve so many health care issues!

  2. Jo says:

    This is the first time I’ve visited your blog. Thanks for this thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I tend to agree with you. I had some takeout food for the first time in about 7 weeks the other day and, after salivating over the menu and the fantasy of this ‘treat’, the reality was a real letdown; I realised I liked my own food better! I think we have become very remote from our food sources, and the role of food in our lives has changed in western countries dramatically over the last two generations. But, picking up on the other point in your post about your predecessors’ production of their own food, our level of activity within the day to day acts of living has also changed a lot. We are so sedentary compared to previous generations.

  3. Jennifer and Jo, thank you both for your thoughtful comments. I think it’s good to at least look at where we are and what’s around us and then ask…is that what *I* want to do? It’s hard to not get swept up into “the world in general” and let that define how we chose to live. It’s great to see that it’s possible to approach something with “intent” whether that’s an all or nothing attitude or a “planned on a limited basis” attitude. I think both are wins and that, ultimately, an awareness and a sense of honesty to ourselves about what our actions really are, is what’s important.

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