Do You Have a Forbidden Foods List?

I bought nutrition guru Joy Bauer’s book “Your Inner Skinny” a couple years ago, because I think she gives sound advice on eating healthy. The healthy eating recommendations and inspirational stories of successful weight losers were definitely worth reading. However, I re-read one success story recently, and I had to stop and think. And disagree.

That story told of a woman who had lost 125 pounds and now participates in mini-triathlons. She went full-tilt on weight loss on her own when she was rejected for a weight loss reality show, starting in earnest a couple weeks before Christmas to the surprise of people that knew her. All of this is certainly commendable.

But then I read this:

“Now I have certain boundaries with food that I can’t cross over. For example, I cannot have Ben & Jerry’s ice cream ever again.” She also talked about being afraid to take vacation days because they are less structured than work days and could lead to her making poor eating choices.

I’m all for preparation and setting boundaries, but personally I don’t think it’s necessary or wise to develop a forbidden foods list or to avoid challenging situations. That doesn’t lead to growth.

To me, the food isn’t the problem; it’s my attitude toward it. And a forbidden foods list means I am not willing to confront and change my attitude. Vilifying certain foods and pretending they don’t exist is an easy solution, but not the best in the long run.

To be clear, I’m not saying to go in the completely opposite direction, to have bags of gooey cookies or crispy potato chips always within arms reach. If I eat them at a restaurant or in my home, I make sure to serve or purchase a small quantity.

If you asked me a few years ago, I would have said success at weight loss would include an iron-clad will and immunity to decadent foods. I think mental strength is important, but I also think it’s about gaining a sense of love and respect for one’s self that doesn’t waver no matter what you eat. And I think that sense of love and respect leads you to healthy food that effectively fuels your body and doesn’t burn out quickly. That love knows when a talk, a hug, a getaway, or some other self-care item is needed more than food. Avoiding unpleasantries doesn’t help you discover what is really going to bring you a sense of contentment and fulfillment in its purest form.

That’s my two cents, but how do you feel about forbidden foods? Do you have any, or are you more flexible with your eating?

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6 thoughts on “Do You Have a Forbidden Foods List?

  1. I think forbidden food lists are a recipe for disaster when it comes to long term success. You’re just setting yourself to feel deprived or frustrated… everything in moderation is okay, even Ben & Jerry’s! And I also think that keeping yourself in a vice of “structured days” is also very dangerous. If you can’t be successful in a variety of situations I don’t think you can be successful long term. Plus, it’s not a way to live your life if you can’t be spontaneous in what you do in a day, or what you can eat! Life is about enjoyment, not punishment – and having a forbidden food list or sticking only to structured days to avoid days off is punishment!

    • Alicia you are right. I also think that depending on the mental strength that each of us has, a forbidden list food makes sense. I used to binge on chocolate and eventually had to not eat momentarily until I could control that craving…

      • Ron, good for you for learning how to control your cravings, and I hope that you still get to enjoy chocolate!

        How did you do it?

      • @dcangah, I tried to consume increasingly smaller amounts of chocolate and even stopped eating it for a while. It was hard but well worth it 🙂

    • Well said, Alicia! Trying to distance yourself forever from certain foods seems like a short-term strategy, but for the long haul, it’s much more valuable to learn how to have moderation in a way that isn’t swayed by emotions. I agree that the new way of eating should be seen as a lifestyle, not a punishment or life sentence.

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