Rich, this is an awesome question. First, let me be clear that since I’ve started this journey, I’ve pigged out on just about anything you can imagine. The most shocking thing to a lot of people is that, although I try to stay Paleo, I’ve had my share of pizza, ice cream, french fries and my other old “downfall foods” (basically anything you can find at a seven year old’s birthday party). If you want to break the cycle, I encourage you and anyone else to:
1. Satisfy a craving. If you really need a milkshake, have a milkshake, but fit it into your life instead of letting the craving become your life. I can’t describe it any better than the human psyche seems programmed to desire exactly what it can’t have. Stop putting food in the corner. Don’t make anything “illegal.”
2. Stop beating yourself up. If you can be on top of your game 90% of the time, you will see AMAZING RESULTS. Hell, even 80% of the time will net you great progress compared to being 100% for two weeks then 10% for a month. Psychologically — WHICH IS THE WHOLE NAME OF THIS HEALTH GAME — if you stop punishing yourself for every misstep and not obsess over what you can and cannot eat, you’ll find that your body doesn’t want things that make it sluggish, tired and sick. Eat like an athlete. Eat for the body you want. That feeds directly into the next point.
3. Training and Exercise can’t beat a bad diet unless you are a genetic freak, but they can help motivate you to choose good fuel. Maybe that’s different for different people. Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison are NFL Hall of Famers that lived on drive-thru food, but my body needs higher octane than that if I want to feel great and have that bounce in my step. An easy way to quit the drive-thru is to demand more of your body. When you can’t have a good run, game, match, bout, swim, hike or you feel fatigued after binge eating, you’ll want to make the switch so that you don’t feel and look like crap out there.
4. Taboo. This point was sort of discussed earlier, but the easiest way to detach emotionally from food is to remove the skull and crossbones. If you don’t act like a crackhead every time you need to satisfy a craving, you won’t become a crackhead. Don’t make fast food the forbidden fruit, and somehow the thrill of the chase is gone when you know you can have it any time you want but you are RATIONAL and PRESENT enough to realize what it does to you.
5. Get educated about food. One of the best ways to make good decisions about food is to learn more about where your food comes from. Learn the lifecycle of the beef that turn into your fast food patty. Learn what they do to make those fries crisp in seconds, or how that bun never, ever seems stale. Learn how everything can taste exactly the same each and every time despite being made in different states by different people at different times of the day.
6. Be Present. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, when you do eat fast food, don’t allow yourself to chase the dragon. Stay present. Maybe count the bites. Maybe look at your food more closely. Don’t eat it while you are driving, or doing work or hiding in your room. You’ll quickly learn that: (a) you don’t eat nearly as much of it when you actually know how much you’ve eaten; and (b) fast food tastes gross pretty quickly (if it takes more than 2 mins to inhale it).A lot of people say, I know how bad this stuff is for me, but I just can’t help it. And my response is: you knew that as you entered the drive-thru, and you certainly knew it as you were crumpling up the bag, but can you tell me what you were thinking when you were eating it. Aside from people spilling their inner monologues of shame and guilt while they ate, most people will tell you that they go blank. If being able to shut down, or de-stress is what you want out of fast food, why not just shut down or de-stress. Take a nap. Walk around the block. Write a letter to someone you haven’t talked to in three years. Get naked. Who knows? I guess what I’m saying is that there are a lot of different avenues to bliss. Fast food hasn’t cornered the market, so let’s try another road to happiness.