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You Know How to Eat, You Don't Need a Diet Company to Tell You

06/07/2014 11:54 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:05 EDT
Chris Ryan via Getty Images

Sugar-free, fat-free, chocolate flavoured pudding is not pudding and there is nothing cake-like about rice cakes!

Diet companies might be able to package their fat free, sugar free, carbohydrate free "treats" to look appetizing, but nothing can be done about the taste. The sad thing is that we accept it. We convince ourselves that they're just as good as the real thing and then wonder why we're still hungry after eating them.

"How can I still be craving chocolate?" you wonder, as you swallow the last piece of the ChocNOfat bar you bought at the health food store.

Our bodies are smarter than we think. When we crave certain things, we can't simply trick our taste buds into thinking we're satisfying those cravings by eating something that's just the same colour, shape or texture. What usually ends up happening is we wind up eating around the foods we really want.

For example, you might really want a few chocolate chip cookies, but to avoid the calories and inevitable guilt that will follow eating them, you choose instead to have something else. Maybe you choose a couple of rice cakes, but when they don't quite do the trick, you decide to have something sweet, so you grab an apple, but when that doesn't work, you try something a bit more substantial and grab a few slices of bread with some low fat cheese. Still not satisfied, you end up giving in to your original craving and have a few of the cookies you wanted in the first place. Only now, you've had the cookies PLUS the rice cakes, an apple and bread with cheese. Had you just eaten what you wanted in the first place, you would have been satisfied and gotten on with your life!

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. Now that you've eaten the forbidden fruit, or in this case, cookies, you are overwhelmed with guilt and feel like you've just blown your diet and will usually react in one of two ways. Either you vow never to eat cookies again and start following an unrealistically strict diet to repent for your food sins, which, in time, you will find impossible to maintain.

Or, you'll skip the diet and, feeling completely discouraged over your own perceived lack of willpower, give up on healthy eating altogether, and punish yourself by gorging on anything and everything with complete abandon while your self-esteem sinks to a new low. All this can be avoided, however, if we learn how to be patient with ourselves and realize that food is not the enemy.

Eating food doesn't make us overweight; but overeating food can. The simple fact is that it takes more than a slice of cake, or a few cookies or a small serving of fries to lead us into a life of obesity. I don't believe that we need to ban these foods from our lives, in fact, we need to learn how to live with them if we want a chance at living a life free of the diet and body image angst that plagues so many of us.

After years of being told that we don't know how to eat, we've actually started to believe it. This makes us completely vulnerable and therefore prime targets for any new diet plan or product that come our way. When did we lose faith in ourselves and start putting all our trust in complete strangers, who care more about healthy incomes than healthy consumers?

I realize that there is a problem with obesity in our culture, but it's certainly NOT from a lack of diet products available; quite the opposite actually. When we're told to avoid fat and sugar, we immediately start stocking up on all the fat-free, sugar-free products we can get our hands on, each of them promising to taste just as good as the original. What they don't say, is that the fat free items are loaded with extra sugar and the sugar free ones are made with extra fat. It's their way of replacing some of the lost flavour.

I'm not suggesting that we should always choose the most decadent option available, but there is almost always a happy medium. Life is too short to live without flavour. Don't settle for bland and dry over moist and delicious. While we shouldn't make decadence the main component of our diets, we shouldn't completely avoid it either.

I understand the desperation to lose weight, but most people want to lose weight because they feel that their extra weight is keeping them from enjoying life to the fullest, but how does being a slave to a diet plan improve their quality of life? Where's the freedom in that?

We need to learn how to live with food, not fear and avoid it. We are all so much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. It's time to reclaim that power. We have to stop paying other people to do what we should be doing for ourselves. The only things getting leaner are our wallets! Instead, we need to take the foods we enjoy off our "naughty lists" and learn how to incorporate them into our daily lives. Believe it or not, it's even possible to eat too healthy!

It's time to go back to REAL food. Throw out all the fat-free, sugar-free, carbohydrate-free, flavour-free but chemical filled products that are filling your pantries and refrigerators and start enjoying your food again. Listen to your body, respect your body and start working with your body instead of fighting against it.

A world without cookies is not a world I want to live in.

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