I think one of the most prevalent pitfalls in many approaches to healthy living is the deprivation mindset. What I mean by this is a diet that is revolved around what you can’t have. Personally, I don’t believe in cutting anything out of your diet 100% unless you are allergic to it.
When I try to cut foods that I love out of my diet, I just end up wanting it more. Eventually, when my willpower is exhausted, I end up feasting on it and having an increased appreciation for that food for a few days. When I simply focus on eating healthier, I naturally end up eating unhealthier foods less often without having to consciously say no to it.
I think dieting with a deprivation mindset can create a forbidden fruit effect on what we are cutting out. Trying to cut delicious foods out makes it all the more enticing. Every time we see it, we are reminded how we can’t have it and we want it… and we all know what happened in the Garden of Eden…
My Alternative to Deprivation Dieting
I’ve noticed that what I think about is kind of like gravity. If I think about cookies (or not eating cookies) then I find myself pulled towards eating cookies more. When I think about eating fruits and veggies, the more I feel drawn towards eating fruits and veggies. So basically, not eating cookies when you are frequently thinking about not eating cookies is kind of like fighting gravity.
Shift your focus to the solutions rather than the problem. Focus on what you should have more rather than what you should have less. Focus on eating healthier foods more often. Focus on eating more fruits and vegetables. Focus on eating more natural foods. Focus on drinking more water.
If you are having a hard time shifting your focus, try changing the information you are exposing yourself to. Don’t keep junk food in the house, buy it when you really want it in a single serving. Watch less TV shows since those are filled with junk food commercials and product placements. Watch Youtube videos or read articles about healthy foods/behaviors. Every time you see something (or something you associate with something) in your environment it is like it is telling your brain “Reminder: I exist!”. So when it comes to foods you aren’t supposed to be eating, this can be problematic.