So this year I decided to give up caffeine and alcohol for my new year's resolution. Don't give me too much credit, I only committed to one month of abstinence. I also recruited five other people to give them up with me. I hoped it would be mentally easier to give up my coffee knowing someone else was giving up theirs.
For those of you who don't know, I have a history of disordered eating and chronic dieting. That makes me very sensitive to completely restricting any food (coffee!) in my life. Even now, I eat a mainly vegan, plant-based diet, but I am unwilling to completely eliminate anything from my diet (except meat) because I don't want myself to ever feel deprived. And I am okay with that. I actually feel better about my food choices than I ever have.
But how do you get to that point?
Today I was reflecting back to 10 years ago. New Year's Day 2004. I was living in California and I was stuffing my face. Why? Because I was joining Jenny Craig the next day.
I had moved away from home 6 months prior, started working nights, was going through a break-up, and had gained a few pounds. I decided I needed to go on a diet to lose those extra pounds plus some. I gained a few more pounds before the diet began by eating lots of "forbidden" foods as I knew I wouldn't have them again for a very long time.
I did join Jenny Craig the next day and I stayed with her for 9 months. I ate only what was allowed on my 1200 calorie prepackaged food plan other than "free" foods like sugar-free jello, diet coke, and vegetables. I became a gym rat. I did lose weight, but I was miserable. When I stuck to this diet, I inflicted 9 months of deprivation on myself. As soon as I abandoned Jenny, I ate and ate and ate. I ate everything I had wanted the previous 9 months. Then I felt awful. I felt all of my hard work was for nothing. I also realized there had to be a better way!
Miraculously, I stumbled onto the "no-diet" approach and I haven't looked back. Basically, the no-diet approach is eating when you are hungry, eating whatever you want, and stopping when you are full.
At times, it's tempting to jump back on the dieting bandwagon, but when I think of what a miserable life it was, the temptation subsides.
After I was able to get all of the unrestricted eating out of my system, I was then able to think a little bit more about WHAT I was eating without feeling deprived.
For me, I had to make peace food.
And now after all this time, things have shifted. I choose to eat the healthy option. Why? Because I feel better when I do both mentally and physically. BUT the trick is, you have to give yourself permission to absolutely choose the burgers and fries if you want them. You can't make the unhealthy food option off limits or you will feel deprived. Make all of your food choices neutral. Sometimes you will choose the healthier option and sometimes you will choose the unhealthier option. Over time as you continue to do this, pay attention to how you feel after eating certain things. Do you feel great after you eat fries for the fifth time in a week? Do you feel yucky after that big bowl of veggies?
I started noticing how much better I felt after eating healthy foods so I ate more of those. I chose the foods I considered unhealthy less often. And I don't feel deprived eating the healthy option anymore because guess what? Healthy foods are delicious! The benefits I get from healthy foods makes them more attractive to me. The unhealthy option is always there and I can always choose it if I want it....but most of the time I don't.
Caffeine is my last vice.
I used to be addicted to Monster Energy Drink and couldn't imagine going into a gas station and not buying one. However, I started feeling uncomfortable with this habit; it wasn't a part of the life I wanted to live. So I switched to coffee and green tea.
Lately, I have been feeling
Admittedly, this is a situation that does have the potential to make me feel deprived. Yet, I am going to strive to find the balance between decaffeination and deprivation.