Todd brought up a great point at the Challenge Kickoff meeting; that it’s easy to get burned out on eating the same things over and over, especially at breakfast. There were a bunch of great ideas shared by the crowd…eat non-traditional breakfast foods (dinner for breakfast anyone?), try new recipes, or cook favorite foods in new ways…you guys continue to inspire me! We all run into the same issue from time to time and these are excellent solutions. And it can be a lot of fun to learn a whole new way to prepare food, especially with a whole Box of support!

But this got me thinking about other factors that shape our daily food life. I challenge you to dig a little deeper. Are there other questions to ask? A couple more to ponder…

Is food your primary source of entertainment? Do all of your social plans revolve around eating? Is it hard to imagine a weekend evening without hitting a restaurant? Is going to the movies as much about the snacks as the plot? Not saying you can’t eat healthy and still love to eat in social settings (we’ve sure had our share of Paleo-inspired potlucks at the Box!) but I’d encourage you to take a closer look. Could you go to the movie, bowl a game or watch football without the focus on food? Maybe hit the Friday night WOD or go for a hike instead of downing the weekly pizza? And don’t overlook the bedroom for food-free entertainment!

For the majority of the world’s population, just getting enough to eat is a big job. Taste and variety take a back seat to food safety and volume – is it edible and is there enough to stop the hunger for one more meal? We are blessed with variety AND abundance year-round, a lethal combination for our survivalist genes. Studies have shown that the more variety we have access to, the more we tend to eat and vice versa. To paraphrase Dan, sometimes boring can be good…related to food that is.

Do you have emotional ties to food? Of course you do! By the age of five many of our eating patterns and attitudes about food are pretty well locked in. We may spend the rest of our lives battling “Clean your plate.” or “Feel bad? Have a cookie!” Just the smell of a favorite food can take you back to baking cookies in your Grandma’s kitchen, eating cotton candy on your first trip to the county fair, or a pile of pancakes on a Sunday morning with your family. I don’t know about you but my memory foods are NOT sautéed kale or mashed cauliflower! About once a month my mom would make donuts for us after school…she was not a big baker so this was a big deal. You could smell those cinnamon sugar-coated babies as soon as you hopped off the bus. Mamma love and a tall glass of milk!

So when I make the decision to give up all sugar, am I also rejecting the love my Mom put into those donuts? Or worse, when she makes them now and I don’t have one…oh boy, it gets complicated! Lucky for me my mom has given up baking so I’m in the clear.  But that’s often not the case. Don’t underestimate the power of food memories and traditions. Just being aware can take away some of their power. Focus on other non-food memories to stay connected. Talk with family or friends if they are putting the pressure on to eat things you’re trying to avoid. And there may be occasions where it’s worth it to indulge, whether it’s to reconnect with those great memories or just to appease Aunt Sue at Thanksgiving. Balance in all things, right?

Are you using food as a drug? We could spend a month talking about this one and we’ll get back to it down the road, but for now consider the basics. For some of us, certain foods may serve as drugs. They help us forget our problems, keep us awake when we’re tired, calm and relax us when we’re stressed. But it’s not just our lack of will power that keeps us coming back for more. Peptides (chunks of protein) from gluten (in wheat and some other grains) and casein (a milk protein) can bind with opiate-receptors in the brain, giving us a mild “high”. Sugar can have a similar effect. As with opiate drugs, over time we require more and more of the food to get the same response. It’s no coincidence that a combination drug in the works for treatment of binge eating contains Naltrexone, the drug now given to heroin addicts in the ER to bring them down from their high.

Some people can eat a little sugar or pizza without blinking an eye. Oh to be one of you! But for those of us who really struggle, given this explanation, it makes sense that abstinence from addictive foods, not “moderation”, is the long-term answer.

Link to drug info:

How we eat is often about way more than just the food. Tune in over the next few days. What questions are you asking? And what is your body telling you?

Take care and see you at the Box!