If you’ve ever been on a diet (even just one) then I’m sure you are familiar with “eat this, not that”. A silly idea where you replace foods that are actually appealing to you with alternatives that either taste like cardboard or are in no way satisfying.
A prime example is swapping out bread, crackers or cookies with rice cakes.
Another example is swapping out ice cream out for yogurt or cottage cheese.
Another example is swapping out chips for plain air-popped popcorn
Sipping on soda water instead of juice or pop
Spiralizing zucchini instead of making spaghetti noodles
Swapping out a hamburger bun for a couple leaves of lettuce
You guys. I can’t. I can’t with these!
How can a piece of lettuce ever satisfy you in the way that a fluffy bun does?
Have you had plain air-popped popcorn before? It’s like eating dust! Give me some coconut oil to pop it in and then drown it in butter.
Rice cakes are literal cardboard – tasteless and nutrition-less air that will never fill you up or create a sense of satisfaction.
If you are recovering from diet mentality or looking for a solution to your body image and weight-related woes, food swaps are not the answer. When we begin the process of eating we have responded to physiological and perhaps emotional cues. By consuming food, we are looking for satiety and a certain level of pleasure from it.
When you replace a higher-calorie food with one of few calories, you’re creating a road block to satiety. In order to reach the level of fullness you are looking to achieve from eating a piece of bread, you will have to eat several “replacement” rice cakes and then you likely still be left hungry and mentally unsatisfied.
Can you think of a time when you have tried to swap out the food you are craving for something “healthier”? This usually results in eating the “healthier” option as well as the original craving afterwards.
Food swaps are a set of rules that will leave you feeling miserable. They will never contribute to happy, body-positive thoughts or permanent weight loss. You will eventually grow tired of never being satisfied and the restrictions will lead to a blow out of overeating all the things you longed for.
I am a huge believer in gentle nutrition now. What can you add to a dish to make it more nutritious instead of taking away? For example, instead of replacing all of your spaghetti noodles with zucchini noodles, leave the spaghetti where it is and add a handful of zoodles for some extra fibre and veggie goodness.
In addition to gentle nutrition, I believe in allowing myself to eat whatever foods I want. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t lead to out-of-control eating. In fact, it allows room for the fears and focus around certain foods to dissipate. When you allow yourself to eat chips when you want them, that special and exciting feeling around them disappears. You don’t feel the need to eat an entire bag for fear that you can’t have them again – a few handfuls seem to do the trick! And hey, if you do eat the whole bag, who cares.
SO eat this! Whatever that may be.