What and When to Eat: always, sometimes, and never

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Always? Sometimes? Never? It depends . . .

Wouldn’t you like to know?!  We all love black and white information, especially about eating.  “I want to KNOW,” you may say, “exactly what to eat and what I should never touch.”

I am sorry to disappoint, but you will not get that here.  One of the problems I have with traditional dieting is that many of them offer lists like this.  As a culture, we love that!  “All I need to do is cut sugar (and/or wheat, gluten, dairy, carrots (!), . . . ) completely out of my diet and I will get to my dream weight and stay there for as long as I live.”

Good luck with that.  I don’t see that strategy offering long-term success to anyone I have met.  Unless a sharply defined eating rule has personal meaning for you, forget it; it will not stick.  If, however, you break out in hives all over your body when you eat even a single slice of bread, I would imagine you would have a relatively easy time giving up gluten if you can pin down the cause of your breakout to any food containing it.

What about WHEN to eat?  Many diets convey the message that if you want to lose weight, you should sometimes eat when you are hungry (when your diet plan makes it possible), never eat simply for pleasure, and never eat when you are emotional.

Here is how I feel about that:

You should always eat when you are physically hungry.  (There is no better reason to eat than this!)

You should sometimes eat for pure pleasure.  (Why not?  If you can supplement food pleasure with other life pleasures, a healthy diet can include some food for the sole purpose of taste enjoyment.  It won’t take much to satisfy a pure pleasure need.  Not being able to stop is a reminder that there is something else going on.)

Eating mindlessly for emotional reasons, with no physical hunger, will never resolve the emotional difficulty, but you will sometimes do it anyway, and you should never beat yourself up about it.  You will always be human.

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