Friday, June 10, 2011

The problem with bad foods

Eat normally, snack horribly.

For years I’ve known that I eat proper meals (balanced meal of protein, bread and vegetables), but I snack horribly. After reviewing a weeks’ worth of my eating patterns, my therapist agreed that I ate well balanced, normal meals, three times a day (thanks Mom for implanting this into my DNA). However, I also experienced both objective and subjective eating.

In basic terms, objective eating is eating a large quantity of food (example: eating a box of granola) and subjective eating is when you perceive yourself as eating a large quantity of food (example: eating two bowls of granola). Both types of eating are accompanied by feelings of loss of control.

I know I’m not the only one with a list of good and bad foods. The problem with labelling food as "bad" is that is human nature to want the something you can’t have. So a perfectly natural reaction to a bad food is to want it even more, developing wicked cravings. Over the years, cravings for bad food increased and my ability to resist those temptations decreased.

I couldn’t win: resist bad foods and I’d crave it more. Giving in to bad foods and I’d have feelings of guilt and shame: guilt for eating a bad food and shame that I was not strong enough, or in control enough to resist. No matter what I was doing, resisting or giving in to a bad food, my anxiety level increased. Anxiety makes you hungry; making it even more difficult to resist and perpetuating an endless cycle.

Limiting myself to a small portion perpetuates the same problem (say no to more, you want more even more). Wanting more but denying more increased cravings resulting in more anxiety and hunger.

I now tell myself:
  • I can eat it if I really want to.
  • I can have/buy/make more if I really need it.
Over time, knowing this and practicing this helped to decrease my obsession and cravings. Looking back, I estimate that this process took approximately three months, six therapy sessions and countless assurances from my therapist that eating bad foods or any foods in certain quantities of food was not as bad as I thought (such as a eating a whole box of Kraft Dinner)for my cravings to decrease.

In practice, if I decided that I really needed more (let’s say another bowl of granola), I would try to delay or distract myself with some other type of activity before consuming another bowl of granola.



  1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my little neck of the www. I know once I stopped telling myself I couldn't have certain foods they lost their power over me. If I really want it, I'll have it but I'm amazed at how often I'll make a better choice because I can have that treat later. Keep working on what works for you and you will reach your goals. I'll be back to cheer you on! Have a great weekend!

  2. Keep it up. Good things usually take a lot of work to achieve. I had no idea of the struggle you have... But having gone through struggle, educating oneself is the key to change. Again, keep it up! ;)


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