Find what you love and eat it…Part 2

by Andie Mitchell on June 7, 2011

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…read part 1 here

A million foods sound delicious in a larger sense. Mozzarella sticks and cake and double cheeseburgers always seem lovely.

Culturally and socially, they’re thought to be comfort food, the kinds of things that we think we’d eat constantly if calories and fat and cholesterol were make believe. But what I came to realize, and maybe you will too, is that I don’t always want mozzarella sticks and cake and double cheeseburgers. Not like I thought I did, anyway.

In the grand scheme of things, I didn’t choose to vilify or even remove those things from my life and my diet. I chose to make them special and to honor them in a way I’d never done before.

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Sure they’re delicious, but are they delicious

to me

right now?

What am I craving in this very moment?

You may be surprised at what you find when you ask yourself this question.

Nights of drive through runs like the one I described in my last post were a rush because I was eating what I thought I wanted and what I didn’t question loving.

I was in my head, not my body.

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When I stopped to wonder if I was even respectfully asking my body’s opinion on the matter of what to eat, I heard a different story.

The moral here isn’t that I quit bagels and fries and donuts cold turkey and lost 135lbs. The moral is that I stopped eating them daily. I stopped eating just to eat. I stopped frantically trying to fill myself for fullness’ sake.

I stopped eating purely out of routine and habit.

By the clock and the occasion.

I asked myself which of the foods I ate daily I really adored. And then even those foods, some staying the same, I began to respect. I wanted them to be special. I still don’t really know how to define special occasion, and yes, it was hard to move away from having those foods all the time. But they meant more. They tasted better.

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To this day, since losing all the weight, I do not eat what I do not love. Of course there are occasions when I have no say in the matter of what I eat: holidays, dinner at friends’ homes, you know. But even then, there is a way to eat only as much of the meal as you like.

It means I don’t always eat the entirety of a plate’s serving.

It means I sometimes stop after a few bites of cake if it really doesn’t rock.

It means I probably eat things like boxed cookies and ordinary boxed cake mixes only occasionally, because truly, for me, they just don’t hold a candle to homemade.

I guess it’s a matter of feeling…gosh those are just so…ordinary. Not nearly worthwhile enough to me.

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When I want a cookie, I find the nearest oven or the nearest neighbor who bakes. When I want cake, I drive to White’s Bakery in Massachusetts (a long way from Seattle, let me tell you) and get a gold layer cake. I opt for bakery, home-baked, or ‘good Lord this is special’ delights. Because Celeste pizza and *Oreo cookies just don’t scream out to me like they used to.

*We both know Oreos still do.

Here’s the thing: Though I’m making a good case for not eating all the zillion packaged, ordinary treats that line the shelves at grocery stores, I need to make clear that sometimes those are the treats I might crave. Just recently, nothing sounded better than Double Stuf Oreos, and being in tune with precisely my craving, I headed to the nearest market for a box. Sometimes I’m jonesing for a pack of brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts, so I’m at the nearest 7/11 in fifteen minutes flat.

The point is, find out what foods you really love. Realize that eating them all the time makes them less special. Respect the food and yourself enough to move them from everyday to maybe even every two days if that seems more manageable. Understand that for you, the foods you love might be Cheetos and Chips Ahoy. Go with that. Because you should only eat what you love. It will make mealtime more celebratory, more fun, more unique. Every dining experience will feel more authentic.

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But whatever you do, just be present enough to ask yourself if those foods you’re about to enjoy are really, truly the ones you want at that exact time and place.

It will make a difference in not only what you eat, but how you feel about the food.

This is delicious, but is it delicious right now?

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen @ Chocolate Covered Kristen June 7, 2011 at 10:19 pm

My favorite series so far. Love, love, love! Such a different and realisitic approach in comparison to the “eat this, not that – go organic or go home” message that’s become the hot thing these days. I love your outlook; you are an inspiring person :-)

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Johnny June 8, 2011 at 2:39 am

Missed yesterday so had to go back and read it. Sounds like one of your originals. Love the concept, it’s what brought me seriously to your posts. I forgot this and was glad you brought it back. I started to loose control again and it scared me a bit. This made me think again. Thanks so very much! :)

Oh, and the food pics where making me drool the whole time I read!!!

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet June 8, 2011 at 2:44 am

I really couldn’t agree with you more! I think people forget how to do this when they start dieting and you are a great reminder of how to have a healthy relationship with food.

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Alexis June 8, 2011 at 3:19 am

ah I love this. I couldn’t agree more. I love your perspective, and photos, and blog. :) Thank you!

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Jayme June 8, 2011 at 4:05 am

Thank you so much for these posts! It was exactly what I needed after an evening of eating like a maniac and not tasting any of it.

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Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet June 8, 2011 at 4:13 am

I’ve heard so many people talk about the ideal of eating what you want, when you really want it. Listening to your body’s “hunger cues”.

As much as I love this concept, I have a long way to go before I master it.

I seem to always need to finish my plate, even when I’m already full. Just staring at that uneaten food makes me hungry!

I eat food sometimes just because I’m bored. That has to change…

I’m definitely striving to eat with more intention, but it seems so unattainable at the moment!

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Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy & Healthy June 8, 2011 at 4:25 am

Another great series :)
Excuse me while I go buy a box of double stuff oreos to dunk in my coffee…

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat June 8, 2011 at 5:15 am

You just keep going with these amazing posts Andie!! I totally hear you on this issue. Before I embarked on my weight loss journey, I also ate things I thought I liked (those “fun” foods – cheeseburgers, chips, fast food, cakes, store-bought cookies etc). I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these, but over time, I’ve come to learn that I don’t love them. I don’t like the way they make me feel, and sometimes when I describe this to people, they just don’t get it. After all, how can anyone not like Oreos??? But that’s the case for me. Sure I’ll enjoy one from time to time, but like you said, it doesn’t hold a candle to a homemade treat. I’ve learned what I love, and let’s just say these things aren’t found in the packaged foods aisles at the grocery store. You’ll find me hanging out in the produce section. ;)
PS. I’m secretly hoping this series has a part 3!!

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Kelly June 8, 2011 at 5:24 am

Intuitive Eating at its best…right here! :)

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Riss June 8, 2011 at 5:29 am

As always…. love, love, love your posts…. and YOU! It’s funny how when we start paying attention to what we really want, we are often surprised by what our body tells us. I don’t crave the stuff I thought I would…

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ally@GirlVFood June 8, 2011 at 5:38 am

I think there’s another addendum to this, one that I sometimes struggle with. I’ve gotten nasty comments from people when I turn down food when I’m just satisfied and don’t want to get overfull, because I’m trying to respect my body. I’ve gotten comments that I’m probably anorexic or that something is wrong with me that I’ve turned down that food. But it’s about listening to my body and knowing what I want, rather than thinking I should because that’s what other people ‘expect’ of me. And the other night at Five Guys Burgers, I was perfectly okay with just a taste of the french fries, and several peanuts along with my sandwich. Because, really, I wanted the peanuts and not the fries. Weird, right? But it’s what my body wanted. I’m finally starting to listen.

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Laurel June 8, 2011 at 5:43 am

I’ll second (third, fourth) everyone else’s comments that your photography is beautiful and the way you think about food is so enjoyable to read. You clearly love food so much, as everyone should, but you’re at such a healthy, happy place with it. Wonderful! I’m training for a marathon so I’m in a weird ‘must eat 24/7′ mode since I’m demanding so much of my body, but I’ll think of this post next time I go to choke down another boring granola bar :)

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Sarah June 8, 2011 at 6:06 am

Well written, Andrea! I totally agree with listening to what you want…it’s so hard to understand what you really crave, but once you do…it is oddly liberating, right? SO thrilled I have found your blog!!!

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Mila @ loftyappetite June 8, 2011 at 7:04 am

That’s my rule with office temptation, if it’s homemade I will try it because I always appreciate a the effort and unique taste of someone’s hard work (and a recipe swap of course). But if it’s store bought then it is easier to just pass.
What you’ve described is such a great rule to live by. So many people are so stuck in these diets that restrict them and the things they love, and that’s not truly living. I had a roommate who asked me to eat his piece of cake at his birthday party so it wouldn’t tempt him and his Atkins diet. considering someone had baked it for him as a gift, I couldn’t believe he was missing out on it!

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natalie June 8, 2011 at 7:42 am

Beautifully written, and particularly apt for where I am in my life right now. Not so much with food–though I know what you mean, I remember eating Ramen noodles once or twice every day for a while just because–but I’m at a place where I’m reexamining a lot of things in my life and asking, “Is this what I really want to be/say/buy/do, or am I being/saying/buying/doing because of habit?”

Thanks for the post; it was needed.

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Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) June 8, 2011 at 7:48 am

You.
Are.
Fantastic.

(& I agree with every word).

…that is all :)

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Clarissa @ Sober and the City June 8, 2011 at 8:19 am

This is very true!! Nobody needs to eat just for the sake of eating and it’s better to go to any lengths to get what you REALLY want, not just what is nearby. I’ve learned on my RAW experiment that I really don’t like veggies all that much but I LOVE fruit and therefore don’t need candy like I used to. Fruit has all the delicious sugar that I need in my life.

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Leah @ Why Deprive? June 8, 2011 at 8:47 am

I love this. So much.
I used to eat just for the sake of eating, and not pay too much attention to it. I wont lie, I have my moments where it still happens, but for the most part, I try and think to myself, “is this actually good?” If its not, then why am I eating it?

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Jessica @ LiveLaughLunch June 8, 2011 at 8:57 am

I truly admire your approach-So sensible. Deprivation is no way to live, and you can *absolutely* have too much of a good thing. A happy balance makes a happy person!

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Gina June 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

Homemade always trumps packaged in my world! The key is to remember that when faced with a craving and to listen to what it is that I really want. It takes time to train my thinking, but I am almost there!

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Sara June 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I agree, homemade is kick butt better 9/10 times and yes, those damn Oreos still will call to me…hello Newman’s O’s Mint-o-Creme! :)

Love your site Andie!

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Alexa @ Simple Eats June 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I love this! Oreos will always have a special place in my heart, but I understand the importance of eating what you REALLY want, what will actually satisfy you mentally and taste-bud wise. Love this post!

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Denise June 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Honestly, I’m going to print this and put it up on my fridge. If that isn’t a place of honor for a writer, I don’t know what is:)

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Honey @ Honey, What's Cooking June 8, 2011 at 9:54 pm

you are so right… i lost 20 lbs, but i still get to eat what I love, only in moderation. Like yesterday, i was craving dessert, so instead of lunch I ate dessert. I know it’s not the best thing, but it satified my sweet tooth. I think balance is key, sometimes we overdo it with desserts, that’s my problem. :-)
love your blog

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Brooke @ Waiting to Rise June 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm

As a former anorexic who fought a 12 year battle, its only been a few years since I started following this exact path you wrote on. And its lead to more joy and happiness than I ever thought possible. There are days that I don’t want M&Ms….but there are some days I do. Then, I eat them and move on. Its so freeing to live by this philosophy. Every day is a chance to eat what you are craving and truly savor food…because you never know what food you’ll desire.

That is the real reason why I think today is the “present”….we get to eat what we want……

Thanks for the wonderful series!

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Megan June 10, 2011 at 12:54 am

You are such an inspiration. I am on my own weight loss journey after being overweight and extremely unhappy and insecure my entire life and I’m about fifteen pounds away from my goal after having lost 20 pounds in the past couple of months (45 total in the past two years) and the most important thing I’ve learned is to not deprive yourself of the things you truly are craving. I let myself have those things, and I know that because I am not forcing myself to stay away from them, in the long run my weight loss is going to last. Sometimes, of course, I mess up and regret eating too much, but I forgive myself and remind myself that I haven’t gained a single pound in two years and one bad day is not going to make me fat again because it is just ONE day and there are plenty of others that I still have total control over. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not going to gain the weight back. It is okay to treat yourself to what you want, and it will keep you from overdoing it later on when you eventually give in. You learn to eat only as much of something as you truly need. I used to eat whether I was hungry or not, whether it was what I wanted to eat or not. I didn’t know how to tell when and what my body wanted to eat. Now I eat until I’m satisfied, and I stop. I have learned to hate the feeling of being too full because to me that means what I ate wasn’t satisfying enough in the first place. It is better to eat one cookie or a piece of cake or some french fries than eat something you don’t really want to eat and then go back for more because even though you’re not hungry anymore, you’re still not satisfied.

I especially love when you say at the end of this post, “This is delicious, but is it delicious right now?” That is a question I am definitely going to take with me and ask myself every time I’m deciding what to eat or not sure why I’m eating (hungry, bored, stressed, etc.). I just love your blog. :)
XO,
Megan

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Caitlin June 10, 2011 at 8:40 am

Bravo, bravo, bravo. Love this series. I am a sweets fanatic but I have found as I have gotten older that although I could make best friends with my couch and a bag of m&m’s in the end, I am not going to feel as good as I did in the beginning. You’re right – it IS about treating yourself and making it special. It’s about respecting your body as a temple. I mean Good Lord, food is good but not when it abuses your health and I think you and I both know a lot of the health issues on the rise can be drawn back to the simple maneuver of utensil to plate to mouth. Thanks for making us sit back yet again and think, “Oh yeah..she is so right on this.” xoxo

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Ann March 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Andie, I love this post. I’ve recently started eating what I actually crave and want instead of what I ‘should’ eat, and it’s been so freeing. However, where do you draw the line between eating healthy while still eating what you love? I know you said you only eat what you love (give or take) but what about the times when you realize you’ve had a few too much chocolate or bread that day but just can’t stomach a cold salad on a chilly evening? Or veggies just don’t sound good at all? I’m not saying I crave french fries and donuts all the time, but I honestly don’t always want fruit with breakfast, or a side of carrots with lunch, even though I know how healthy they are!

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