Can’t Versus Won’t


For the most part, I purposely add good things into my diet instead of taking bad things out, and this challenge is no different.  The way our brains work, diets are extra hard because we feel deprived when we “can’t” have things.  And this causes all kinds of reactions in our bodies that make it even harder to fight cravings for the food we’re avoiding.  (Do a web search on dieting and deprivation or “can’t vs. won’t” if you don’t believe me.)

Healthy fixin's

Healthy fixin’s

When I was on Weight Watchers a few years ago, what eventually helped me lose significant weight was adding in several servings of vegetables instead of trying to avoid all the things I shouldn’t have.  I routinely ate a huge salad or multiple servings of vegetables before eating anything else.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t have the other things, just that I knew I needed to load up on the good stuff first.  This approach made it a lot easier to eat a small portion of whatever contraband happened to be available instead of making a meal of it.  And I wasn’t hungry or feeling deprived.

A better choice than candy!

A better choice than candy!

Occasionally, I go a step further than won’t by saying only.  I only eat green m&m’s (because they taste better than the rest).  I only eat at a restaurant when there’s a reasonable chance the food is better than I can make at home (which is not true, but should be).  I only eat beef if I think I’m anemic (mostly true, though plenty of other foods would help more than beef…  Sometimes you just want a steak!).  This way of thinking doesn’t always work, but it’s another way to trick my brain out of feeling deprived.  What it comes down to is mind over matter.  But that’s not an easy thing to master.  For me routine helps.  If it’s my routine to avoid certain foods, they don’t creep up on me, so I’m prepared when temptation strikes.

Nothing wrong with a beignet... In the French Quarter!

Nothing wrong with a beignet… In the French Quarter!

I don’t advocate thinking of foods as good or bad, but I think it is a good idea to know what the things we put in our bodies do.  Do you know how your body processes whole fruit versus juice?  Or what foods naturally help clean toxins from your blood?  Or the difference between how your body uses butter and margarine?  Since diet is the basis for health, we probably should know what’s happening between the dinner plate and the restroom.

I watch a lot of food-related documentaries.  Here are a few I find helpful:

  • Food Matters:
  • The Perfect Human Diet:
  • Hungry for Change:



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