Why I always have chips in the house?
So many of the patients that I work with share that their number one strategy to curb cravings is is to “keep the offending foods out of the house”.
They claim that if “they don’t have it around then they will not eat it.” I have implemented that approach in the past and get why one would think this will work. It’s 8:00 pm at night and you are really wanting something sweet, you go to your cupboard, fridge, freezer and kids candy bowl, 3 times over and there is nothing there except for a few granola bars (the healthy kind) and some rockets from Halloween last year.
So then, because “nothing is in the house”, you turn to an apple or perhaps some raw almonds. Right? No, not right…because what I see and what I have done is a rummage around the pantry trying to satiate this craving with semi-sweet chocolate chips or dates dipped into tbsps of peanut butter. My personal favourite, it an unassuming healthy herbal tea that I subsequently add 3 tbsp of honey too.
Friends, the craving does not go away just because the food is not there. In fact, I would argue in our denial of what our body is asking for that we actually end up consuming more food as an attempt to quiet down the urge. Sometimes your body is just asking for cookies. Instead of shaming yourself for this desire, ask yourself did you drink enough water that day, did you have a mid-afternoon high protein snack or you exhausted from a difficult day at work? Get curious, and ask yourself these questions as opposed to declaring to yourself, husband and kids that this food is forbidden in the home.
The plan for avoidance is not sustainable, you see there will always be leftover birthday cake, 1/2 bag of chips from the BBQ you hosted, M&M you bought for the babysitter. If we don’t feel empowered around these foods and make choices through the day that keep us centred and not wanting them then the result will always be a binge. If you can tell yourself you can have as much as you want, chances are when you connected in a centred body, you will realize that you actually don’t want it and you may not even like this food that you have been working so hard to avoid.
When I was growing up my parents did not know a lot about nutrition, they did their very best we always had to sit at the table, eat our vegetables and my lunch always included an apple. The one win, which I am quite certain was unintentional was our pantry. It was filled with rows of cookies, chips, crackers and even straight-up candy like licorice. I looked forward to Wednesday after school when my dad, who to this day language of love is food, would take us grocery store and let my sister and I each pick out a cookie and cracker choice for the week. I felt so empowered, I was a kid making a choice and I was able to bring whatever I wanted into the house. Sure we ended up eating more salt and sugar then was probably great for us but we always had them in moderation. As a kid, 2 cookies was enough because I know there were 2 more for tomorrow.
I think some friends are surprised when they see my cupboard. I do buy box food in moderation for my family and true to family tradition, I let my daughter pick some of these things out. The other day she asked me what Doritos were so we bought a small bag and she declared “too spicy” and threw them out. I do not want my daughter to feel denied or moralize foods as good or bad. I want her to listen to her body and understand how food makes her feel. For example, she would never drink chocolate milk because she knows it makes her tummy hurt. Something she figured out all on her own.
Don’t get me wrong, I have to monitor her (she would eat cookies for breakfast if I let her). She understands what balanced meals are and knows that mommy wants her to eat her protein first and then all her vegetables before she is allowed to have something sweet. She can tell me the difference between healthy sugars and unhealthy sugars and sometimes chooses blueberries over ice cream. She stops eating a cupcake when she has had enough. I like to think this is because she is listening to her body and becoming aware of how food makes her feel.
Therefore I argue that having junk food in the house is positive for the following reasons:
a) you can satiate the craving with what you really want, therefore letting it go
b) you can eat it in moderation knowing it is their tomorrow
c) you can get curious about if you even want or like it
d) it teaches our children to regulate food
Don’t give food all the power, it’s just friggin food, it’s not good or bad, something to be avoided or demonized it’s just-food. Of course, your house needs to be primarily stocked with whole foods like hummus, eggs, chicken, yogurt, spinach, apples, broccoli, rice, quinoa, almonds, avocados…you get the idea!
I am proposing that you bring in the bag of cookies or chips and get curious about its true impact and consider that it may even heal your relationship with food.