Friend or Foe?

It's about to get real up in here...but hear me out.

This is a tender subject. I’m going to try to be very, very diplomatic about it. But, as with anything slightly controversial I know I run the risk of pissing some of you off. I’m willing to take that risk today because I feel so strongly about this. 

Enough with all the pseudo-foods and ‘legal’ treats. If you are someone who is trying to fix your health, live a more vibrant life, eat healthier, and redistribute your body composition you are not doing yourself any favors by incorporating paleo cookies, keto ice cream, sugar-free brownies or any of the other million such-and-such approved treats that are all the rage. Even if you are making them yourself at home. A cookie is a cookie. A muffin is a muffin, and a bowl of ice cream is still a bowl of ice cream. 

Every day I look at my Instagram feed, several times a day actually,  and at least 50% of it is photos of some kind of supposedly healthy paleo treat or keto treat or a brownie made with a shake mix, so it’s totally healthy and good for you….Right? Right??? NO. Nonononononononono. 

Look, I’m not against the occasional indulgence. I enjoy a square of dark chocolate a few evenings a week. I will have a couple of sips of chocolate stout or smoked porter once in a while. I’ll drizzle a bit of maple syrup or honey on my goat cheese now and then. But I don’t do all of them everyday, or even most days. And, they are all real food.

What I’m starting to get upset about is the proliferation of the idea that as long as something uses Xylitol or Erythritol instead of cane sugar, then it’s not really junk food. As long as that cookie is made with coconut flour or almond flour, it isn’t bad for you, it’s actually healthy—because nuts! And if you take your meal replacement shake and use it to make brownies or a cake, well that's downright smart—now you can have your cake and eat it too! 

And to be honest you could have any of that once a month and it would be fine. But the point I’m making here is that making healthy eating choices is more than the macronutrient count, and the lack of refined sugar or gluten in your food. It’s about redefining what food is, and your relationship to it. I don’t know a single person who has come to me and said, “when I get stressed I just can’t stop myself from eating a whole bag of carrots.” But I sure do know a ton of folks who do that with cookies, or chips, or chex mix, or ice cream….

Are you seeing my point yet? If someone is an alcoholic we don’t tell them to just switch to non-alcoholic beer or wine. We help them figure out why they have developed unhealthy patterns around consuming alcohol and then work to find new, better, healthier ways to live their life. It’s the same with food. 

If you are someone who has used food as your friend, confidante, support, relief, comfort, to drown out your emotions, to make yourself feel safe—then I’m talking to you right now. 

You can eat all the Paleo cookies, all the keto cupcakes, and all the avocado fries in the world, but until you address what's behind your cravings you will never truly take control of your health. And given how expensive all of those things are to buy or make, because you didn’t address the root of the problem and create a new relationship with food, and develop new healthy eating habits, you will eventually go back to eating the mass produced, crappy, high-carb, low nutrient original versions of those foods. And you will gain back the weight. You’ll feel bad. You’ll look less than vibrant. You’ll have lousy sleep. And you’ll feel like a failure. 

I want more than that for you. You deserve more than that. You deserve to feel amazing, look good, sleep well and have a long, healthy life. And the only way you can do that is to choose to eat real food, in reasonable amounts, move everyday, get enough sleep and love yourself enough to keep making those boring, unsexy choices everyday. 

There is no way I can make a roasted chicken thigh taste like a chocolate cupcake. I just can’t. And cookies have a lot of emotional baggage for most of us. Don’t even get me started on how Ice Cream has been marketed as a psychological necessity for surviving a breakup. But trust me, you can get through the day without any of those things. And you can learn to eat in order to support your health, instead of substituting food for feelings and love. 

You are so worth it. So put down the cookie, and back away from those brownies. I’m here for you, and the world needs you.