Recently I was at a social gathering that included a plentiful buffet of snack food—decadent cheeses, fine breads, gourmet meats, tasty guacamole, salty tortilla chips, and much more. I was standing near this table of goodies when one of my friends saw me and said something like this: “It must be nice not to have to worry about dieting! You can eat whatever you want.”
There is some question about whether my friend meant this comment literally or not, but I do sometimes feel like people don’t completely understand my “will not diet” approach.
Not dieting does not mean that I can eat whatever I want.
I really wish it did!
What it does mean is that I don’t go on “diets,” and if you’ve read my “What is a diet?” post, you know that I define a diet as something that requires us to change our eating habits for a set period of time. Some people would call these fad diets or unhealthy diets. I just call them crazy ways to make you less healthy in the long run (even though they might help you drop a few pounds in the short run).
Famous fad diets include the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, the Cabbage Soup diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the Thousand-Calories-a-Day diet, etc. I also consider it a diet when people give up something—like sweets or flour—for a set period of time.
Basically, for me, a diet is anything that means that you can’t eat as you normally would.
And this brings me to my approach.
No, I don’t diet in the way I’ve defined above. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t watch what I eat. My goal is to eat healthy all the time, but don’t let the word “healthy” fool you. For me, eating “healthy” is as much of a mental approach as it is physical one. It includes having plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats as well as a moderate amount of carbs, dairy, and dark chocolate in my daily diet, but it also includes eating cheeseburgers, sodas, and sinful desserts from time to time. And that’s because I believe that indulgence is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. If we don’t give into our desire for high-calorie, fatty foods from time to time, I believe that desire will only grow, causing us to actually eat more of the bad stuff than if we simply allowed ourselves those indulgences now and then.
For me, “now and then” means limiting my indulgences to about twice a week. In other words, I let myself go a little crazy about two times every week.
Usually that happens on the weekend, but last week that meant splitting a large Buffalo chicken pizza with my husband on Thursday while we spent the day grading at Greener Groundz and going out for a high-calorie Mexican dinner with some girlfriends on Friday night.
Because I knew I was going to have those two big meals, I didn’t allow myself to eat whatever I wanted at that snack buffet I mentioned earlier. If I had, I promise you that I would have had a much bigger plate of cheese, meat, and bread than I did.
No, unfortunately, even the “will not diet” girl cannot eat whatever she wants.