I think it’s human nature: as soon as you tell someone that they can’t have something, they immediately begin craving it. Suddenly whatever it is becomes much more desirable and seductive and delicious because we can’t have it. It is no longer allowed, so of course “I really really want it!”
We only want it because we’ve been told either by someone else or by ourselves that it’s off limits. Whatever ‘it’ is hasn’t changed: only our perception has but it’s that perception that makes all the difference! Until we change our perception of the Forbidden Foods, we’re fighting a losing battle.
Bread is one of the worst for me: I can eat bread, rolls and biscuits all day long. Butter- no butter- no difference! I’m not sensitive to gluten so it’s not like eating bread is a major catastrophe for me. I have noticed that the joints in my hands hurt the next day and because of the high carbs, I feel a little ‘blown up,’ but in general, neither of these are bad enough to keep me from craving it.
What does keep me from craving it is telling myself that I can have it if I want it. Once I take it off that Forbidden Foods list, it loses its seductive appeal. The trick is telling myself that I can have it if I want it, but why would I want it? The first answer that pops in my head is “because it’s soo good!” [Think of Homer Simpson and donuts here!] This is when I start asking myself some questions and reminding myself of the last time I had bread. There were some flatbreads that I bought which looked really tempting and were really gluey and kind of tasteless. Then there were some biscuits that were really dry and pasty and they stuck in my throat. How many of the rolls had no flavor or were too sweet or had no texture or were also gluey? How many had a funny aftertaste? So… 185 calories and 22 carbs of crumbly gluey tastelessness: yum??
Thinking of it from that point of view takes away most of the desire: do I really want to spend my calories and carbs on something that I’m going to regret eating? Not to mention the ‘fallout’ I feel after eating bread: aside from the puffy feeling and achy hands, I get really really hungry afterwards since the carbs and starch send my blood sugar skyhigh and then crashing down. I have a biscuit for breakfast and by lunchtime, my stomach is growling loudly. If I have string cheese, no growling at all! Bread also tends to make we want more bread, because of the starch roller coaster. I’ve also noticed it tends to start the “Search for the Perfect Bread.” Since the bread I ate last time wasn’t as good as I remembered, maybe this other one will be better? Maybe that’s the Perfect Bread!
That’s part of the problem! We remember these delicious Forbidden Foods as tasting wonderful and incredibly delicious, but they rarely live up to our idealized memories. We idealize them simply because we can’t have them anymore and since we can’t have them, they must be the most delicious food ever! That is, until we cheat and taste them and then we are disappointed. Disappointed but undeterred! That other bread/ cupcake/ chocolate must be the best one ever!
Our forbidding ourselves to eat them alone make them extremely desirable and our memory of how good they were becomes exaggerated so we build them up to irresistible status in our heads. We’re setting ourselves up to go off the rails when we do this! This is why I remember how great that flatbread looked and how awful it tasted! I remember those biscuits that turned to pasty floury glop when I chewed them (why didn’t I spit them out?! Ugh!) That’s the reality of the ‘bread situation’: they don’t taste as good as I think they will and I end up with achy hands, puffy feet and am up all night in the bathroom! Yay, bread??
When we take away the mystique by replacing it with cold hard reality, we usually realize we don’t really want what’s in front of us: we want the Idealized Version that only exists in our heads. There is something else that happens when we resist temptation: our palate changes. That’s why the yummy biscuits I remember don’t taste so yummy anymore. I’ve literally lost my taste for them and instead of being super-delicious, they’re dry or doughy or blah. Maybe they were yummy compared to other processed bread foods, but now they are only yuck. And they make my hands hurt and they make me retain water so I’m puffy until I’m up all night flushing out the carbs. Not super-delicious in my book anymore!
Mindset really has everything to do with the cravings. When I was a kid, I used to love chocolate. I was blessed to grow up near a See’s Candy store so great chocolate was a common occurrence in my life! Until I got my Queensland Heeler, Sarah. She also loved chocolate and could get it out of the cupboards, off the counters and almost anywhere. I was always afraid she’d die of chocolate poisoning or that my Yorkie, Henry, would be poisoned on the chocolate she got out of the pantry. So I made a simple decision: no chocolate in my house. Nothing chocolate made it past my front door and over time, I realized I just stopped eating chocolate. There was no rule saying I couldn’t have it while I was out, but because of the danger to my dogs, it wasn’t something that was normally on my menu anymore. It was also a lot easier to keep it out of my house than I had thought it would be: there was no ‘bargaining’ about eating it now and then fasting for a couple of days. The rule was hard and fast: the dogs get into the chocolate and they could die. No bargaining there!
Of course most of us don’t have that hard and fast rule: eating bread isn’t going to kill me or even make me sick enough to feel it, but by telling myself if I really want it, I can have it makes it easier to remember why I choose not to have it. It is a choice that I make either to have it or not have it. It does not control me. Somewhere out there maybe there is a Perfect Bread that’ll be as delectable as the Idealized Version in my head, but I seriously don’t want to eat all the cruddy stuff available trying to find it!