18 June 2014

34 – Doing Without Is Giving Yourself What You Need

I’m several days into a new clean eating routine. By clean I mean no ‘fake food.’ No frozen processed dinners, refined sugars or grains, or fast food. Just clean, whole foods like fruit, vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and some other healthy stuff.

As part of this routine I was preparing some sliced orange and kiwi for breakfast the other morning. As I cut up the fruit a thought struck me. Thankfully nothing else did. A thought’s enough for me first thing in the morning. 
I started wondering why people often think of eating clean and healthy foods as a form of deprivation. This puzzled me, especially when I thought about common breakfast foods (like sugary, processed cereals) I’d chosen to ‘deprive’ myself of.

What struck me is that I’ve never felt deprived by leaving such ‘foods’ off the daily menu. So why do so many of us think of eating healthy food as a form of depravity? And what exactly do we think we’re doing without anyways?

A lot of it stems from how ‘fake foods’ are presented to us. The World constantly tells us that ‘fake food’ is convenient, delicious, and unifying in a bizarre way. If you don’t believe me watch any number of McDonald’s, Wendy’s or KFC commercials. According to The World, friends really connect over cheeseburgers, and only the Family Pack has the power to unite your family around the dinner table.

Now that’s better?

‘Fake food’ is fast and easy to prepare, and it seduces our tastes buds (mine included). According to The World, ‘fake foods’ are necessities that flat out improve our everyday wellbeing. No wonder we feel deprived when we try to cut them out of our diets.

I’m not a nutritionist. But facts are facts. ‘Fake foods’ are fast and easy to prepare because they’re loaded with enough chemicals to survive a nuclear apocalypse. They seduce our taste buds, but sabotage our health. And anything that sabotages our health does not improve our everyday wellbeing.

On the other hand, clean whole foods have got a few things going for them. I’m pretty sure Adam and Eve were the last two people to be corrupted by fruit. Eating vegetables helps stave off illness, and there’s strong evidence that they even cure disease. Beans definitely make you fart, but they’re also definitely good for your heart. And maybe even your blood sugars. Eating real food is simply really good for you.

So when we choose to eat clean whole foods instead of ‘fake foods’ what are we really depriving ourselves of? 

In this case, depravity is a good thing. By ‘depriving’ ourselves of the convenient, delicious ‘fake foods’ in favour of good food, we’re actually giving ourselves what we need. Instead of ruining our health we're improving it. And when we improve our health we improve our lives.

Depravity: it makes you feel great

This doesn’t just apply to what’s in your bowl or on your plate. There are all kinds of things we can ‘deprive’ ourselves of that wouldn’t make us worse. All that boxed-up stuff cluttering our closets, attics, and garages. The dumb shit we spend too much time watching on TV or reading about on the internet (I do it too!). The bad relationships with other people that simply drag us down. Much like dumping the ‘fake food,’ dumping any of these things can only help us become better.  

So take a moment the next time you sigh before eating an apple instead of a candy bar. Ask yourself if you’re really depriving yourself of anything. And remember that good foods, like apples, accomplish what the ‘fake foods,’ like candy bars, never can. They give us the fuel we need to live better and happier lives.

Chew on that.  

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