For many people (myself included) a new year ushers in hopes and dreams of things to come, typically including a renewed approach to a healthy lifestyle. And today, I watched an excellent documentary titled Hungry for Change that helped me re-think how I approach food and eating.
The message in the film that really hit me was that I need to re-frame how I think about food. And while I knew that (and continue to know it, regardless of what my affection towards Doritos might tell you about me), some of the language used in this film really hit home for me.
In particular, there was a comment about changing how we view a ‘diet’. For most of us, the word diet means to stop eating or to change our eating habits, often requiring that we eat less of something (usually foods we have been conditioned to enjoy, like those pesky Doritos). But as soon as our brain starts to think “I want but CANNOT have”, we immediately start to feel deprived. Eating losing its joy, other foods lose their taste. All we want is what we cannot have. We must have the food that is now forbidden. But we cannot. But we must! We want it! We need it! But we cannot! Do you see the vicious cycle, here? If you do, welcome to diet hell.
But what if we change our definition of the word diet? What if, just like how we should do with our food, we go back to the source? Back to the meaning of the word in its purest form?
The word diet truly means “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”. It does not relate to deprivation, starvation, or any of the other ‘ations‘ that are associated with forbidden food. So what if our diets could include whatever food we wanted? What if we wanted healthy food? Clean food? Natural food? Food with ingredients that we can pronounce? What if we change our thoughts from “I want but cannot have” to “I CAN have but DO NOT WANT”? Just saying this makes me feel less like I need my next hit of nacho cheese. Because it’s there. I am allowed. If I wanted, I could get in my car and drive to a store and eat the entire shelf-load of nacho-cheesy-goodness! There is nothing stopping me.
So if I allow myself some credit as an intelligent person, and if I take the time to form some logical thoughts, I can easily understand that although I CAN eat whatever I want, what I really want to eat are things that I can pronounce. Things that weren’t created in a lab. Things that my body can use as fuel to perform the way it should. When I think about it, I don’t actually want a bag full of simulated-orange-colored cardboard-like chip products.
And voilà – a successful diet.
Re-frame your brain. Re-frame your life. Re-frame your diet.