Food is a choice
Day in and day out, we make choices about what we eat or more importantly what we don’t or won’t eat. Those choices, grounded by belief, can be for a variety of reasons including preference, intolerance, allergy, fad, or illness. Whatever the reason, are the choices you make sabotaging your health and well-being? Are you depriving yourself of foods you love or more importantly foods you need?
In the clinical nutrition world, patients are often told they should “restrict sodium, reduce fat, reduce sugar, lower cholesterol, etc” as related to their particular illness. However, more often than not, the patient does not hear “reduce, restrict, lower” they hear “YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY <insert favorite food here>. Cue scary music.
Understanding our choices
Before we continue, it is important to understand the definitions of sabotage and deprivation. The definition of sabotage is “a deliberate action aimed at weakening something or someone through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction”. Note the first part…a deliberate act of weakening. What about deprivation? The definition of deprivation: the state of being kept from possessing, enjoying, or using something. Based on these definitions, ask yourself the following question. “Am I deliberately depriving myself of essential nutrients that without them are weakening my body?
If you aren’t sure the answer to that question, then ask yourself these questions:
The effects of our choices
The use of the terms “good” or “bad”, avoiding or restricting certain foods, and using food as a reward can lead to a host of “unhealthy” eating habits and long-term health consequences.
First, let’s talk about your mental health. Yes mental health. Everyone is talking about it so why not talk about it in terms of food. Many people are familiar with the more common diseases related to food such as anorexia or bulimia. Anorexia is the act of “restricting” food and bulimia is the act of overeating and then restricting or purging. Unfortunately, if untreated, this deprivation of food that supplies your brain can lead to an increased and usually exaggerated sense of dissatisfaction with the body.
What if you are just trying to improve your overall health? Which type of food are you eliminating or avoiding? For me, it would be chocolate. For some it might be “carbs” in general. For others it might be dairy. Maybe it is not as broad as that. Maybe it is only cheese and not ice cream. Whatever “it” is, avoiding it might be sabotaging your attempts to improve overall nutrition status, manage a chronic illness, manage your weight, and even improve your mental health, or all of the above. For example if you are avoiding cheese, you are giving up a good source of calcium. People will say well I am eating ice cream. My response to that is that ice cream has lots of sugar. There are pros and cons to our choices.
Regardless of why you are avoiding a particular food or if you are following a “reward” system, for most people it can lead to a cycle of emotional eating, overeating, and/or bingeing. We tell ourselves I was “good” today so I can have this “bad” food. This leads to feelings of guilt because you just ate a “bad” food.
These acts of sabotage, whether intentional or not intentional, can also lead other chronic illnesses such as:
· chronic gastrointestinal issues
· dehydration (which leads to a host of other issues)
· bone and muscle loss
· difficulty getting pregnant
So how do we STOP sabotaging our health?
Overcoming self-sabotage is not an easy process and takes time, focus, and diligence. Try to remember, the negative effects of deprivation outweigh the benefits. Go back to the last paragraph and re-read the negative effects of deprivation. Is it worth it? Here are some ways to overcome sabotage leading to deprivation.
Sources: Laura Ligos, MBA, RD, CSSD, The sassy dietitian. How to Stop Sabotaging your Diet
Beth Cecil, Owensboro Health HealthPark dietitian. Donuts in your Cart.
Denver Wellness and Nutrition Registered Dietitians provide useful blog post about health and tips for success. Our RD's are committed to greatness at every step towards your optimal health.