Choice Over Abstinence (Don’t get so excited — I’m talking about food)
A food craving lasts between four and twelve minutes — at least that is the general consensus (minus any scientific method) of sites I have visited in search of physiological actualities behind the duration of food cravings. In fact, the only science I found was on sites concerning eating disorders; I want to address something else entirely. I suggest that we all have an eating disorder. And I also think that most of us should, and can, eat what we want — as long as we are rational (pardon the pun, nyuk nyuk) about it.
Now, I wouldn’t encourage a person who struggles with a clinical eating disorder to follow my advice any more than I would offer an alcoholic an open bar — or one beer, for that matter. But for the average eater, there is either a lack of awareness/concern or hypervigilance concerning the food we do or don’t eat. While the former might be symptomatic of the wonderful, cavalier brazenness of youth, the latter is more like sabotage; to attempt to abstain from something as morally innocuous as food is to only set oneself up for an almost certain binge, which does more damage than periodic enjoyment. In a battle of wills when there is only one will involved (yours) vs. something you enjoy — how can you win that war?
A food craving does not last between four and twelve minutes — at least that is the general consensus between my four-your old self and my adult self. Yogurt is not ice cream, fruit bars are not ice cream, sorbet is not ice cream…and yogurt is not ice cream. Damn it, I want ice cream. I run, I ride bikes, I do some modest weight training; I imagine that I am more health conscious — at least actively — than most. But for all of those good habits, the fact that I will always enjoy and crave ice cream will never diminish. But giving in to urges doesn’t have to be reckless abandon.
Here is how it can work:
Have the discipline to enforce a schedule of sorts for “treating” yourself. Perhaps you are strong-willed enough to refrain from your own caloric demon(s) all but once a week. Aim for that and if you, in a moment of weakness, succumb to temptation and exceed the self-imposed limit, tell yourself it is okay because you are working out pretty regularly. What? You’re not working out regularly? We will discuss that in a future blog. For now, we move on. This is the most important aspect of the approach: be selective. I was astonished to discover that a pint of one very popular brand of ice cream had 160 calories per serving (4 servings per pint — yeah, right) while a pint of another very popular brand of ice cream contained 330 calories per serving. If I eat one pint, I’ve had 640 calories; if I eat the other, I’ve taken in 1320 calories. Want proof of dramatic differences in the calorie count of various ice creams?
For those who wish to improve the quality of their lives through physical well being, I offer advice in the spirit of establishing a workable harmony between nutrition (the things that actually aid endeavors of fitness, which I will cover in ensuing blogs) and the foodstuff that brings us delight — the treats. Rare is the creature who can forsake creature comforts. With a little discipline and selectivity, you can occasionally indulge yourself without wrecking the positive results reaped through exercise. I’m saying you can have it both ways.