“It’s not good for me . . . therefore, I should not eat any of it.” This sounds logical, doesn’t it? It is completely logical – in theory – but the more important question is: Are human beings 100% logical all of the time? If we were, we would be machines.
Many machines need a form of “food”, maybe a battery, gasoline, or electrical source. The amount they need, however, is not at all related to their mood at the moment. They do not have cravings for different kinds of fuel. Have you ever seen a clock radio stop working or rebel because you plug it in when it really wants a battery?!
There are several rules for keeping machines operational that just do not apply to human being very well at all:
1. Needs are clearly defined. Just read the Operator’s Manual.
2. If it isn’t working, it is relatively easy to figure out how to fix it. Just take it to the repair shop or call an expert if you can’t figure it out yourself.
3. Machines do not carry emotional baggage (with the possible exception of my last car! 6 flat tires in one year!).
Keeping in mind that I am not a machine, I learned long ago that I would eat much healthier and have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight if I accepted that fact. Past attempts at responding to nutrition information with machine-like logic never worked for me. If I tried to give up all sweets because I read something about how sugar is not healthy, I inevitably ended up eating more sugar than I really wanted after going “cold turkey” for a few days. The feeling of deprivation made me crave it more.
I know I am not alone. This is a predictable human reaction to making something feel forbidden when the reasons for making black-and-white rules are not compelling enough. If I knew that even a grain of sugar would kill me, I’m quite sure I would choose to never ever have any of it, but unless that day comes, I will continue to do what I know works for me: moderation, the old “m” word. With it comes a lot less anxiety and obsession than either the “all” or the “nothing” scenario.
So enjoy the relative simplicity of the machines in your life, but also learn to accept the more touchy-feely nature of your own human Operator’s Manual. Let’s face it: We human beings are much more complex, and eating is hard to control with black-and-white rules. They work for a while, but then life just seems to get in the way. The frustrations and challenges of life are not unusual; they happen daily. Planning only for ideal situations is like operating a machine – it will work if conditions are right, or it will not work well at all.
Ideal conditions for a machine are simple. Usually it means that it has been stored properly, well maintained, and has a power source if necessary. We are not so black-and-white, and ideal conditions for human beings are largely perceptions, not concrete situations. Knowing that there will be many imperfect moments in life, an eating plan that only works in perfect conditions is a set-up for feeling “broken” with regularity. A more moderate Operator’s Manual that you can rewrite if need be – that is what works.