At our coaches’ retreat recently, Coach Amanda of Boise, Idaho told us about the content of a class she teaches called How to Get Off Processed Food.
She advises her classes, “Your body’s not a trash can,” and to not make your kids eat junk food. Like a Happy Meal, for instance. It may have a free toy, but you can buy a cheap toy at the dollar store.
She tells her class to “be a food snob,” and she has them practice throwing some packaged processed food away. And of course she advocates for those who attend to begin my 12 Steps to Whole Foods program.
This reminded me of writing in my new book, How to Eat Right In the Real World, that a key to achieving ideal weight and wellness, for me, was to become very aware of, and then challenge, this subconscious thought:
“It’s free, so I’d better eat it!”
I wonder how many pounds of white flour and white sugar, processed meat, and other junk I put into my body just because it was free. Just because of my poverty mentality.
It is a triumph, and an important part of my progress, to no longer feel any angst on airplanes when they ask what soft drink I want, and whether I want Bischoff cookies or pretzels (now you know what airline I fly). I just say “no, thanks” and just get water.
It’s a triumph that now I go to a party and see a dessert I always loved, and just pass it up.
I still have to occasionally challenge this thought:
“I don’t know when I will ever have a chance to eat lemon bars again!”
I remind myself, “I can have lemon bars or any other treat anytime I want. I just choose not to, today.”
This helps me avoid that scarcity mentality I grew up with. (With 8 children, and limited groceries, as we lived on my father’s military income and the BX was a long drive away, most food was rationed. If we got a nectarine, the bowl they ripened in announced, with a hand-lettered sign, that there was just one per person. If we got juice, you had to measure your small cup 2/3 full, and if you took more, you were in trouble. (There were plenty of tattlers around for enforcement.)
I have noticed that scarcity mentality, which can lead to weight gain and poor health, has little to do with one’s income. It is a mindset far more about our past experience, and how we view the world.
Because of my own background of scarcity, for a long time I had to constantly remind myself, “I can afford to buy pretzels anytime I want without it being a problem in my budget–and I don’t. So there’s no reason to eat these airline pretzels just because they’re free. That’s not a good reason to eat something.”
I used to marvel at friends, when I was young, who turned down cookies and candy and cake. I never turned anything down! I figured I’d better eat it because I might be hungry later. This attitude prevailed for far longer than it served (if it ever did, which is questionable).
Many years ago, a friend of mine briefly got me to go to a summer program at an elementary school several miles away. The federal government paid the school a certain amount of money, per head, for each child who ate free lunch several days a week during the summer. My friend was ecstatic to take her 7 kids there every day for pizza or chicken nuggets, milk, chips, and a brownie. There was a token nod to nutrition in the form of a few carrot and celery sticks, or a small iceberg lettuce salad, which few children ate.
I went only a few times before I realized that not having to prepare one meal and clean up the kitchen after lunch, and saving a few dollars on a nutritious lunch for my children, were not benefits that overcame the negative impact on our health of eating these foods.
And my friend who so enthusiastically recruited friends to save time and money by going to the free lunch program? Her husband made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
It’s hard to throw things away, when you worked hard to earn the dollars that bought that junk food! But junk food does nothing but harm to you and your family. I highly recommend the practice of throwing it away. Ceremoniously throwing processed food in the garbage will make you think twice when you’re in the store and considering buying processed food again!