When I was in college, if I would have ranked (by frequency) the foods that made their way into my mouth, bagels, Diet Snapple, yogurt covered pretzels, dry cereal, pasta, fat free frozen yogurt, and rice would have topped the list. These were my Safe Foods – the ones I was sure were the ticket to weight loss. I wasn’t actually losing any weight, but that didn’t seem to matter. I just kept eating the same things day after day thinking, I suppose, that one day the pounds would just start to drop off!
Looking back from my current vantage point, I can see how misguided that was, but at the time no one could have told me I was wrong. I’d constructed this security blanket of Safe Foods and was terrified to veer from it. Being asked to eat, say, a steak and a baked potato, was scary. Pizza? Terrifying.
This behavior of maintaining a mental list of Safe Foods is quite common, but it is fraught with issues.
1) The lists are often illogical – they include some junk foods (like frozen yogurt or Twizzlers) while omitting nutritional powerhouses (like avocado or nuts or oils) without good reason.
2) They’re trend-based instead of science-based. The diet trend of the year rules. In my day it was low fat (but anything with the word “yogurt” in it was deemed healthy as well!) Then it shifted to low carb, then NO carb, now gluten free. People seem to get stuck in any one of these phases and can’t get out.
3) They’re limiting! Safe Foods rob us of the chance to experiment, to sample, to dabble. In my view, eating should be a pleasure, not an exercise in vigilant self-deprivation.
Are you feeling constrained by a list of foods that you turn to again and again? What would it take for you to open your mind to new possibilities and make selecting from a menu fun again? Does the idea exhilarate you or might it actually scare you?
To get started, perhaps you could try one of the recipes in this archives of this blog. Or contact one of our Nourish Health coaches – we’d love to help you rediscover the vast world of healthy foods out there for you to explore!