Obsessed over allowing sweets in your kitchen? It’s time to reassess your relationship with food and see where the real damage is being done.
Many people struggle in their relationship with food. At the root of this issue: passing judgment on what they eat.
Have you ever told yourself that kale is “good” and donuts are “bad”? That’s judgment.
Calling yourself “weak,” “naughty” or “bad” for eating something you didn’t think you were supposed to eat? Or turned down dessert because you were “trying to be good”? That’s also judgment.
This dichotomy of good vs. bad runs rampant in our culture and can be damaging. And currently, one of the most vilified foods are sweets.
From social media to fad diets, sugar detoxes are often in the spotlight. But the truth is, the more something is restricted, the more it is desired.
Here are a few reasons why limiting sugar and sweets won’t do much for your health in the long run.
1. The more you restrict, the more you want it.
Some people have foods that they won’t allow in the house because “I have no self-control and I’ll eat it all”. But what if the issue isn’t a lack of self-control, but too much? What if instead of trying to dictate what and how much we eat, we simply let our bodies decide? What if we ate what felt good? This concept is pretty scary to some people – they think they’ll eat “bad” foods with reckless abandon and never eat a vegetable again. They have no trust in their bodies to tell them what and how much to eat.
The more you tell yourself you can’t eat cake, the more intense your sugar cravings become. On the other hand, if your kitchen had a scrumptious chocolate cake in it at all times, you’d likely lose much of your desire for cake through your body’s response to habituation.
2. Sugar isn’t the cause of chronic disease.
While the media paints sugar and carbohydrates as the reason for all chronic disease, that doesn’t paint the full picture. There is an emerging body of research investigating the outcomes of yo-yo dieting and restrictive eating that is associated with poor health outcomes, such as the increased risk for osteoporosis and cardiometabolic diseases. And let’s not forget to mention the psychological stress and ensuing physiological outcomes, such as increased cortisol production.
3. Sweets don’t need to be on a pedestal.
This issue is often rooted in childhood when you may be taught that sweets are something to be “earned”, and are so special that you only get them on holidays or if you’ve done something well. On the contrary, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein foods are items that must be eaten first before dessert may be eaten. They may be used as a bargaining chip to get to dessert, or children may be taught to ignore their physical fullness cues and clean their plates.
That means sweets are put up on a pedestal and teach you from a very young age that they are something we should strongly desire, yet only get sparingly. Because your body is hardwired to enjoy sugar (since it is a valuable source of energy), trying to fight your natural instincts with restriction is illogical and unproductive. When something sparse is offered, you’re more likely to gobble it up regardless of whether you’re truly hungry for it. Both real and perceived food scarcity impacts your eating behaviors.
So how do you work around this? Food freedom.
This may seem counter-intuitive to some, but it’s critical to make peace with food and give yourself permission to eat without passing judgment. That is when you’re able to obsess less and build trust in your body.
There are far more important things in life deserving of attention and energy than obsessing over sweets in your home.
Adapted from the original post.
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Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN is a Chicago-based Registered Dietitian who helps others lead a life of compassion that improves their overall relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies. As an expert in eco-ethical and vegan lifestyles, she’s passionate about helping individuals end their struggle with food and live an unrestricted life in the kitchen.