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January 22, 2017

How to Know If You Should Quit Some Foods “Cold Turkey”

When you change the way you look at food, the foods you look at change.

Okay, okay, I’m ripping off Dr. Wayne Dyer with the subject line of this email, playing on his famous personal development quote, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” but I’ve realized that this also applies to our relationship with our eating.

I’m going to explain in a second, but first … an announcement that the 4-Week Food Obsession Boot Camp course is open for enrollment. Thousands of women have enrolled over the last 3 years and have used the tools, insights and strategies to quit the all-or-nothing eating approach and minimize the amount of time and mental energy they are spending being preoccupied with food.

Be sure to grab your spot. You can do that right here.

Next, I want to talk carbs …

In high school and college, I was a huge pasta eater. Even when I got my very first AOL email address as a teenager, my password was actually, pasta. Lol. THAT’S how much I loved it!

And the other day, I was thinking that besides the few weeks I was in Italy last year, I haven’t eaten a huge bowl of pasta in years. Haven’t craved it, haven’t even thought about it, just not on my radar anymore. And I haven’t had it, not because I put it on the off-limits list and deprived myself using crazy white-knuckling restrictive tactics, but because … my nutrition has simply evolved as a result of the years of practice I’ve put into moderation and mindfulness and discernment.

Think about it. Don’t you have foods that you simply … don’t eat anymore? Things that maybe at one point you lived for? How did that happen?

Should You Quit Some Foods Cold Turkey?

This insight got me to think about the concept of “quitting cold turkey.”

Do some people just need to quit foods cold-turkey because they can’t trust themselves to be around them without having to devour them? Does using deprivation and harnessing insane willpower to completely cut something out of your diet actually work? As a long-term strategy?

I wanted to ask this question, for myself, because I am admittedly enamored with #moderation365 because I have seen it work for thousands of women. So in an effort to reexamine and refine my belief system and message, I wanted to ask: are some people just not ready or available or able to move toward moderation, and they need to quit foods cold-turkey?

I thought a lot about it. And, to me it comes down to a spot on the larger food journey.

The irony of the journey is that you don’t know where you’ve been until you know where you currently are.

Think about it, I’m sure you have friends and family doing their dieting thing, and you’re like, “Oh, I remember being there! I see what they’re doing.” Not in a condescending way, but just in an acknowledgment of the fact that the nutrition journey has some landmarks. At least to me it does.

So I get why people want to quit foods cold-turkey. It’s appealing. It feels organized. It feels like, If I can juuuuust not have to deal with this food ever again, then I will be good!

The concept of quitting a food cold turkey is tempting because for a short time, it takes the concern about it off our mental plate. We don’t have to think about it, worry about it, or deal with it. The food is simply not an option anymore. Who wouldn’t want that? Bye, bye, sugar!

But, to me, this is a fragile solution, a lazy solution. It’s a convenient quick fix that, in my opinion, will actually cause us more struggles later.

Because here’s the thing: we can quit foods cold turkey all we want. We can stop buying them at the store, we can not have them in the house, we can avoid places where they might be–out of sight out of mind, right?

But at some point, whether it’s next month or in 6 months, we’re going to be faced with the food. We will. At a friend’s house, an outing, during travel, somewhere. And if we haven’t dealt and practiced the tools to be able to handle that food, trust ourselves around that food, then we’ll just be that much more likely to binge on it.

Let’s take sugar for example.

I have known countless people who have tried to give it up. You, me, my mom, your mom. Quitting sugar is tempting because wouldn’t it be so awesome to never have to worry about it ever again??

But I don’t know one person who has quit sugar cold-turkey and then was able to abstain from it forever. I feel like when we try to quit something completely because we just don’t trust ourselves to handle it, it’s a copout. And it’s also putting that food up on a pedestal and puts us at the mercy of it.

The idea that we just can’t be around sugar ever again sucks.

Or that if we are, we’ll have to harness willpower like crazy to avoid it. I don’t like that. I never want to be controlled by food. I never want to feel like I can’t handle any food any time. I want to be able to taste anything anytime without having to completely devour it until it’s gone.

With the exception of food intolerances, which again, still requires willpower to abstain from, the key here is that we can phase out of certain foods one of 2 ways:

  1. Try to quit cold turkey, using insane amounts of willpower and force ourselves, hoping and praying we’ll be strong enough, OR
  2. Practice, over time, tools that help us understand our relationship to food and reinforce a new, anti-fragile way of interacting with it so we don’t ever have to be scared or obsessed with it again.

The former is an appealing quick fix, and for 99% of people won’t work as a forever-solution. The latter is a sustainable solution, but one that requires much more internal work, time, practice, self-compassion and patience.

I don’t eat pasta anymore not because I told myself I JUST HAVE TO STOP EATING IT DAMMIT. I don’t eat pasta because over the last 5 years I’ve become practiced using tools like mindfulness, Intermittent Sampling, preemptive cheats, #SatisfactionFactor, Daily Nutritional Commitments (DNCs), Exposure, abundance mindset, overcome Food FOMO, and many more, as outlined and taught in my 4-Week Food Obsession Boot Camp course.

When you change the way you look at food, the foods you look at change.

Practicing these tools is tough. It’s the long route. But it’s also the forever one.

(BTW, as an aside, if you have an food allergy or sensitivity, then yeah, your body no likey and you might have to quit it cold turkey. BUT, even in those instances, you still have to find satisfying workarounds. Maybe you can’t have dairy or gluten, but you can still grab delicious meats, veggies, fruit, and more, adding #SatisfactionFactor to them, and making them work for you. More on food sensitivities here.

Gals, registration for the 4-Week Food Obsession Boot Camp is open for the next several days ONLY–closing on Friday Jan 27th and not opening up again until 2018. If you’re ready, you can enroll here.

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