I have a contradictory personality.
I enjoy people and building friendships, but I really need my alone time and am the first to be ready to leave a party. (I have read that this makes me an "extroverted introvert.") I LOVE working out, but I could just as easily enjoy sitting all day long. I am determined, but a talented procrastinator. I am very interested in quality nutrition, but I love chocolate like it's a cherished family member.
Two halves of me are always having a tug-of war.
Lately, I've been trying to focus on nurturing some bad parts of my "nature."
For the past few years, I've been so intent on getting rid of my perfectionist tendencies where it comes to my eating, that I have swung to the other side of the pendulum. I have literally been eating a "It's-my-birthday!" dessert almost nightly for, hmmmm, I don't really know how long.
Now, I actually think this is an important part of my recovery from years and years of distorted eating. (Yes, I've written several unpublished posts on this and I'll get around to those soon.) I needed a year (OK, more like 3-5) of eating really well during the day, but my nightly treat including eating whatever the heck I wanted and in whatever quantities I felt like. Here are some of my latest samplings, when it hasn't been ice cream, cookies, or loads of dark chocolate peanut butter cups:
(Side note: Please don't lecture me on the sugar-addiction research, like some people have on Instagram. I know it. I've read about it extensively, believe it, etc. But cutting out food groups is not healthy for me mentally, even if it's a "treats only on the weekends" standard. Living that way is a sure-fire way for me to spiral back to a bad place, really quickly. I have a whole other post in the line-up about how restriction (even in the name of health) too often and too easily leads to obsession, eating disorders, or even someone "failing" so much, they give up on health altogether. I feel that a sugar-is-the-devil-attitude hinders far more than helps for most people in the long run.)
Even though I think it's been good for me mentally to get rid of iron-clad restrictions on what I eat, having dessert with this level of abandonment hasn't made me feel my best physically or emotionally. And the latter is why I really want to improve. Only eating one portion of any dessert is still super hard for me. I always want more, but it's more of an emotional thing, like my subconscious still believes it's my "last time" having a treat, or I'm staving off anxiety, boredom, sadness, or what have you.
Also, when you spent over a decade consistently eliminating treats from your diet, incorporating them back in is going to take a lot of acclimating. After almost another decade of gradually acclimating (with lots of ups and downs), I think I'm at a point now where it is OK for me to adjust how I'm dealing with treats, keeping my physical and emotional health in mind.
So, here is what I'm doing:
I still get a treat every night, but most nights I'm trying to keep it more simple: a little bowl of dark chocolate almonds, a few pieces of chocolate, a handful of Aussie licorice, a couple dark chocolate granola balls, etc. I couple it with a mug of herbal tea, as a sort of ritual.
The key for me is to not say, "NO TREATS!" or "SUGAR IS BAD!" or even, "YOU CAN'T EAT THAT, IT'S NOT THE WEEKEND!" There are no real parameters or restrictions. More of a loosy-goosy, "Treats are always allowed, but try to keep them simpler most days, and stop when you feel full or anxious."
Also, the other key is for me to not set parameters on days-of-the-week when these moderate-treats are the norm. That way, if I have a day (like yesterday) where I was planning on keeping it simple and ended up eating cookies with my kids mid-day, it's not like I've "blown it" and now either can't eat my small treat OR just eat another huge amount of dessert after the kids are in bed because I've already "broken" my rule. There are no rules! But there is a genuine search for mindfulness and balance. That's the end-all be-all for me, not the size of my bottom.
I know for most people, that's not scary. That's healthy, that's responsible. But it is scary for me. It's a tenuous position for me to be in, because I still have a difficult time trusting myself and worry about slipping back to either side of the pendulum: either crazy-restrictions or no-restrictions.
It's hard being in the middle, especially when social media is riddled with "clean eating" or "whole 30" posts. But darn it, I can eat very healthy AND I can have treats. That is OK! That is still being healthy, as long as I'm trying to keep it within the realms of responsible moderation, alongside genuine love for myself and body.
At least, that's the mindset I'm working on. How about you?