I hear it time and time and time again. “Carol, I was bad. I ate pizza,” or whatever the food is that makes you feel “bad.” (Since I hear about pizza more than any other food, I’m going with it.)
You are not bad. Pizza is not necessarily bad. What is sometimes bad is the effect it has on the body (if it is greasy, there is a food sensitivity, or we over do it) and the mental state we take on when we are supposed to be eating healthy.
To be clear, I enjoy pizza. I enjoy ice cream. I enjoy many foods that could be classified as “bad.” The foods we choose to eat either lead us toward our health and fitness goals, or away from our health and fitness goals. There is not really neutral territory here.
I recommend you stop thinking that you are bad when you eat the pizza and good when you eat the salad. The way we think is our reality, and eating a certain food does not make us bad or good. This thinking only gives you a complex that is based on crazy evidence.
Here’s a healthier way to think about this whole thing. For the most part, if we eat in a way that leads us toward our health goals most of the time, say 80%, we will probably meet them. Allowing 20% for the occasions when we choose the pizza or ice cream or whatever, will not break us. Of course, if you discover you feel much better when you choose the 80% way, you may be inclined to increase that number. Do I hear 85%?
Another thought: stop eating said food before you are stuffed. Stop eating when you are 80% full. Eat slowly and savor whatever it is that you’re eating, whether it’s the salad or the coconut cake. Stop before you need to loosen your belt a notch or unbutton that top button on your pants. Allow your stomach to tell your brain that you need to stop or you will feel bad—not so much because of what you ate, but because you overate!
One of the habits I try to follow is eating a tossed salad before or with the pizza. By doing this, I take the edge off my appetite. I enjoy the pizza, I am satisfied and I don’t eat so much pizza that I feel bad. This is a much better tactic than complete denial of a favorite food, then going off the deep end one day and eating uncontrollably.
Another trick is to drink plenty of water, no matter what. We need to hydrate daily, winter and summer, and this helps stop out-of-control eating.
There are options when it comes to choosing foods that seem rather indulgent. Homemade (from scratch) pizza will most likely be healthier than frozen. If you make your pizza using quality ingredients, vegetables, lean protein, and a thin whole grain crust, you take it to an entirely different level. There are frozen varieties that are organic or gluten free or have fewer preservatives.
Sometimes, we simply have to meet up with our friends, have fun and go with the flow. Then you know my rule: Only eat it if it’s AMAZING! Enjoy every bite and feel good.
“Consistency not novelty is the secret to uncommon results.”- Dr. John Berardi.