What is food to you? Is it fuel, or is it a social event? Do you eat to pass the time, procrastinate, or for instant gratification? Maybe you think about food every second of the day, or maybe food isn’t even on your mind until your stomach is burning.
Essentially, food is the foundation of life. We need food to live. We eat, we grow, we reproduce. Since the beginning of time our days were spent hunting or gathering for our next meal. Now we just spend our time making money to buy our food. We’re flooded with advertisements for all kinds of processed foods, fad diets, and fast food. We’ve lost touch with the ways of the past (meaning hundreds of years ago) and now food has a different meaning. We require healthy food to live a long healthy life. We don’t need processed food or junk food.
Junk food isn’t just the “bad” food, it’s pointless food. If you always associate it as forbidden, you’ll probably want it more for that reason. If you think of it as food you simply don’t need, you may be less tempted.
When I was in middle school, we watched a video in health class about the long term effects of drugs. The video was basically a giant scare tactic and showed healthy lungs compared to a blackened lung of a smoker, and a man’s mouth with holes in it from years of chewing tobacco. I don’t remember what I learned about nutrition though. I don’t remember any scary videos of people with cancer from years of eating processed foods. That’s probably because no one knew about the dangers of processed foods and GMO’s back then.
When I tried the South Beach Diet, restricting carbs, I felt deprived and guilty because that’s all I could think about. I thought about how good chocolate cake tasted, and how bad I wanted it at all times. I went to dinner with my friends and could only concentrate on not attacking the bread basket. It was awful. I had the mindset that I wasn’t allowed to eat these things because they would blow my diet and I’d get fat.
Since then, I’ve changed my way of thinking. After educating myself on processed foods and clean eating, I no longer have such a strong desire for junk food. Of course I still get cravings, but I think twice about grabbing that chocolate bar at the checkout counter. Instead of thinking about how much I want this sweet deliciousness in my mouth, I remind myself that this is not real food. Made of chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients, it’s not even real chocolate. I think about the harmful effects this would have on my body, and I imagine myself feeling sick after I eat it. Usually that’s enough to deter me from the temptation. Every now and then I’ll buy some high quality dark chocolate from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. One piece is enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. Since it’s not loaded with fake sugar and chemicals, it doesn’t make me ravenous to eat the whole bar.
It’s okay to be a food snob. Actually, I recommend it. When you’re a food snob, junk food is below you. You don’t need it. You seek lean protein, fresh greens and whole grains. You spend 90% of your time at the grocery store in the produce section, perusing the selection of gorgeous fruits and vegetables. The other 10% is reserved for choosing your free range eggs, meat and poultry. No one’s going to judge you for eating healthy. If they do, they’re jealous because they can’t have the amount of self control you have. Best case scenario, they’ll admire you and emulate your ways.