Eating for Health and Pleasure: The Pleasure Diet

I have a big problem whenever I’m faced with the idea of going on a “diet:”

I’m just not willing to give up entire food groups.

For a long time, I thought this was a flaw in my personality.  I thought that I just didn’t have the willpower to want to give up brownies, or sugar, or gluten, or butter, or meat, or whatever.  I thought there was something basically wrong with me that I didn’t want to eat fake “replacement” foods like banana “ice cream” or healthy cookies.

Then, after my daughter was born, I decided that I was going to try to lose weight and still eat all my favorite foods.  And I did it. I lost 36 pounds on Weight Watchers eating butter and chocolate chip cookies and reviewing restaurants by watching my portions and exercising.

And then a lot of stuff happened in my life. It got easier to slip back into old habits than to count points.  And I’ve gained back about 8 pounds.

Not the end of the world, but enough that I found myself, once again, looking at diets.

Diets.  Ugh.

Then, a good friend told me she was going to try to go vegan for a month to see how it affected her health, and I remembered Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes.

It’s Bittman’s “vegan ’til 6pm” plan, in which the veteran food writer didn’t give up his foodie lifestyle of eating out, testing recipes, and reviewing restaurants, but rather made it a rule that he eats mostly vegan (a little milk in coffee or butter in a recipe is OK) during the day, and then eats “normally” at night.

I always admired this approach because it seems so balanced.  But I had a hard time applying it the first time I read the book, because I was being too much of a hardliner on myself.  I didn’t embrace the mostly part.

Add to that that I’m currently working on a book with a new client about healing your thyroid with diet and lifestyle changes, and I was suddenly bombarded with research that shows how our Standard American Diet negatively affects all kinds of systems in our body.

It seemed like too many coincidences; the Universe was maybe trying to send me a message.

So I’m undertaking a little experiment on my own.  I’m going to be eating mostly vegan, mostly gluten-free, and mostly sugar-free for most of the day, and then eating a regular dinner.

For example, today I had oatmeal with bananas and almond milk for breakfast; a big salad with lots of veggies, refried beans, salsa, and a few tortilla chips for lunch; and I’m planning on roasted chicken, baked sweet potatoes and broccoli for dinner.  I went out for pizza with my husband and kiddo on Saturday night.  And yesterday, I had a chocolate chip cookie after dinner.

I’m not counting calories or points, and I’m not going to worry too much about “rules.” Instead, my driving force is going to be loving myself enough to give myself the healthiest food possible most of the time, and taking true, deep pleasure in the foods I eat some of the time that are outside those super-healthy parameters.

I’m calling it the Pleasure Diet.  🙂  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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