We are bombarded with advertising designed to stimulate every possible sense (they’re working on sending smells through the airwaves, I’m sure of it). On top of that, many of these food companies have the advantage of having sucked us in at an early age, so that Kraft Macaroni & Cheese summons up childhood memories, Doritos (9 flavors- can you believe there are 9 flavors?!?) give me flashbacks to my teenage years, and Sara Lee coconut cakes are a reminder of birthdays and holidays.
Processed foods are formulated by junk food companies for us to want more, while desserts, in all their decadence, just beg to be eaten in larger portions than are good for us. It’d be better off to avoid processed foods all together, but hey, we’re all busy, we’re human, and sometimes we just want to throw a SuperPretzel in the toaster oven and not feel bad about it. Forgoing foods we really like is a really bad idea, making us feel deprived, questioning the point of making lifestyle changes if we cut off from the stuff we like.
The key to dealing with this fear is to compromise. Changing your attitude about them, viewing them as indulgences rather than just another thing you eat is the key to overcoming feelings of deprivation. When you do have them, appreciate the snack and dessert as something special you get to look forward to rather than something you can eat anytime you’d like.
What amazes me, though, is that the changes in my palate as a result of how my eating choices have evolved over the years so that my desire for processed foods has dwindled considerably. And more often than not, desserts are far too sweet for me. Getting rid of sugar and processed grains has made natural foods taste comparatively much sweeter than they previously did. I used to love Medjool dates and would have these as a lunch dessert treat, but now I can’t even eat a whole one because they just taste too sweet to me.
What’s more is that I rarely even think about, let alone crave processed foods much anymore, which is most unexpected and unbelievable to me. So when New Year’s Eve rolls around, when we traditionally indulge in SuperPretzels, they just aren’t as satisfying as they used to be.
A friend of mine really wants to ditch processed foods from her diet, but she just loves them. Every so often, when she feels the junk is just contaminating her body, she does what she refers to as her ‘system reboot’. She always feels better during the month that she does it, but then goes back to eating the way she had before.
One day I said to her “Why do you torture yourself so? You know you feel better when you cut the sugar and processed stuff out of your life.” Her response was “Yes, but I just love cupcakes!” She also loves Pumpkin Spice Latte and lots of other decadent stuff. If she would just carry on eating the way she does during her reboot, eventually she’d reach the point where the cravings do subside. I’m a living example (much to my own disbelief!) that it’s quite possible to recondition yourself–both physically and psychologically–away from the stuff that’s not so great for your body.