Hey guys! I want to address a question I get a lot from people who want to stop dieting and start normal eating. They are often terrified, that once they stop restricting, the following will happen:
“What if I just eat cookies and candy all day??!!”
Why do we generally need food? Silly question, you’d say, it’s so obvious! Food fulfils our basic need – it provides energy for us to live and thrive. Though if that was the only reason, would we still engage in preparing outstandingly looking and tasting dishes? Or would we make reservations weeks ahead at the “it” restaurant in town? Or wait all year for the white truffle season to dine out and dish out a hefty check for a ridiculously tiny dish? (they actually weigh the truffle shavings prior to putting them on your pasta!).
So many celebrations are situated around food – Thanksgiving, birthday parties, Mother’s Day brunches, baby showers, you name it! Because food means a lot more to us than just a source of energy! We don’t always eat when we are hungry, and it’s all right, as long as this practice does not become your only crutch to lean on in difficult times and it is not sabotaging your weight and health goals through the overeating that it may cause.
The reason most of us love food is because we are wired to crave it. From the evolutionary standpoint humans are biologically driven to seek food to survive. Particularly seek foods that provide quick energy, hence our preference for sweet and fatty foods. In a study, when rats were given sugar, scientists discovered through brain imaging that the same brain regions responsible for producing a reaction to consumption of cocaine, were lit up when sugar was consumed! Some people derived from this, and similar studies, that sugar is as addictive as cocaine (or more so, according to some studies). However, what we see from them is that sugar activates pleasure centers of the brain, thus explaining the idea discussed above – we are driven to seek food, particularly palatable (sweet and fatty).
We are doomed, you think! Doomed to crave candy, cookies and cake all day!
How am I ever gonna be healthy and weigh what I want?! Hold on! Our bodies are smarter than that. You may turn into a Cookie Monster for a few days once you stop restrictive eating (you know, the type of eating when you DON’T allow yourself ANY cookies at all!). But soon enough you’ll realize that all of a sudden you are fantasizing of roasted brussel sprouts and spinach/walnut/goat cheese salads. Because we are also programmed to eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and all other nutrients that our bodies need.
Here in Miami and all of Florida we know very well how it goes. Every time hurricane hits, and there was a major one this fall, Irma, the power goes off and our daily fair is all but fresh produce. We live off of canned foods accompanied by soft drinks and juices. At some point, even the most monstrous cookie eater starts dreaming of freshly cooked meals and salads.
Don’t fear it. Face the cookie, don’t fight it. Call for a truce, enjoy it and move on.