I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was all dressed up for a formal dinner with friends. The waitress handed out menus and my eyes darted left to right, up and down. I was inspecting each dinner option in great detail.
Cheese? How about no?
Steak? Cross that off the list too.
Crispy Fish? Even that was out.
Everyone around me ordered their meals. Me? I was on to page three of the menu and still couldn’t find anything I was “allowed” to eat.
“I’ll just have the salad. No dressing, please.”
You see, I had just started another restrictive detox diet and my options were pretty limited, to say the least. But, back then, experimenting with crash diets was kind of my thing. I’ve been on just about every crazy eating plan you can imagine. I once sipped lemonade only for a week. Then, back in the 80’s, I ate nothing but crackers for several weeks. Yes, just low-fat crackers. I probably lost some temporary weight. I was left skinnier, but miserable.
So many of us are obsessed with quick fixes, but most fad diets just leave us with a spoon deep into a pint of ice cream. We go back to overeating the foods we crave because when we tell ourselves that we can’t have something, it just makes us want it even more. We become obsessed until our willpower is fatigued and we cave. This broken will doesn’t just leave us enjoying a taste, though. Oh, no. We often full on binge. That’s partly a result of fixating on the flavor high, and also because we internally question if we’ll ever enjoy the food again.
“This is the last time I’ll ever eat that,” said every dieter out there.
But something happens after we binge. The nagging emotions of guilt and self-defeat start creeping up. How dare we don’t live up to the unreasonable expectation we inflicted upon ourselves?
I went on my last crash diet more than two decades ago. Since then I’ve adopted a more flexible approach to life.
By turning my life into the ultimate laboratory where I conduct many experiments, I’ve learned how to eat in the middle—that place where food is enjoyable and satisfying without excess on either end.
Eating in the middle results in food freedom without deprivation or guilt. It still means saying “no” to a lot of menu choices. But it means saying yes to your favorite splurges in moderation on occasion.
Sure, if you follow me on Instagram then you know I usually fill my plate with fresh vegetables, quality proteins, and some fruit. What can I say, I love eating healthy because it makes me feel great. Plus, if you know how to jazz up the nourishing stuff then it actually tastes amazing too. But, about 10% of the time you’ll also notice I share photos of drooly chocolate cakes, gluten-free muffins, and ice cream cones.
Yes, I eat that stuff sometimes too.
Everyone is different and we need to find our own unique middle. My advice to help you get started?
- Eat mostly clean, fresh, and naturally gluten-free and preservative-free foods.
- Allow yourself to enjoy treat food on occasion and plan for splurges when possible.
- If you are going to eat crap, try to make it cleaner crap! Just scroll through the dessert section of my website to find a handful of better-for-you treat recipes.
By allowing yourself room to enjoy life’s culinary goodness, you are putting yourself on the road to a more delicious and satisfying life.