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Why You Should Eat That Red Velvet Cupcake

Depriving ourselves from foods we enjoy leads to more cravings and unhappiness.

Guilt around food has become the norm in society. Comments like “that fettuccine Alfredo you ordered has 1,500 calories!” or “I’ll only order dessert if we can split it” perpetuate the belief that we should feel guilty about eating food. Food is a source of joy (and nourishment). It is during meals that we connect with each other, have in-depth conversations, and laugh. When we make these comments, we are looking at food as an adversary and spreading the belief that food should take a backseat to fitting into those size 3 jeans.

Beliefs like this are often at the core of eating disorders. Those with eating disorders, in turn, struggle to fight their internal critic when they hear messages from others that echo the notion that less is more when it comes to food.

Source: Cottonbro/Pexels

Eat what sounds good to you. Yes, that means trying your best not to look at the calories at restaurants or elsewhere. Order to nourish your body and give it what it wants. We know that eating intuitively and honoring your taste buds actually makes for a more satisfying meal and fewer cravings. Restriction leads to cravings and cravings can lead to overeating.

Eat until you feel satisfied. Being in tune with your body and knowing when you feel full is important. If you never eat a cupcake, you are far more likely to eat past the point of fullness when you actually get the opportunity to have one.

Know why diets don’t work. The diet mentality keeps you from enjoying certain foods for a short time in order to achieve your weight loss goals, only to leave you without any guidance as to how to eat when you get there. This often leads to gaining back all the weight you lost, which then leads to another diet. Instead of dieting, learn ways to fuel your body by providing it what it needs. Practice making a plate of food that includes all the nutrients you need, and be sure to include some of those delicious foods you enjoy having.

Food can be a source of joy. Depriving your body of the foods you enjoy will only make you unhappy. We know that food affects mood (hangry, anyone?). Aim to have more complete meals and you’ll notice fewer cravings, you’ll gain more respect for your body and what fuels it, and you’ll slowly become more comfortable ordering the foods you like. If you notice that your food choices are affecting your mood, it might be an indication to make some changes.

Refrain from labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Doing this only leads to negative feelings whenever you eat a food from the “bad” list. Food is neither good nor bad—it’s just food. Make every effort to be as neutral as possible when it comes to how you label specific food items. I find that the best strategy to help with this is to talk about food in terms of “sometime foods” and “anytime foods” (thank you, Sesame Street!).

And there you have it. It is time to start honoring our taste buds and start enjoying those delicious foods we often deprive ourselves of. Say yes to that fettuccine Alfredo and that red velvet cupcake. Your gut and your brain will rejoice.

More from Yanet Vanegas Psy.D.
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