Here are some of the common food phobias held by healthy-eating-obsessors, and a short blurb for each explaining why they should not be feared at all. (I am not even getting into the fears of cooked food, or animal products etc…. )
- Carbohydrates. Fear: Ohhhh they cause diabetes and weight gain and make your cells resistant to insulin, right? Actually, avoiding them makes your body think it is in starvation mode, can diminish your thyroid function (metabolism), and put your body into a state of more insulin resistance, in order to get needed sugars when you do eat them.
- Sugar. Not only are carbs not the problem, but sugar is not inherently evil either. And I cannot tell you how long I have been really afraid of it. Eating too much of anything way past what the body wants and needs day after day is the only problem- mild overeating is not a concern. Villainizing sugar helps nothing and just creates mental stress, while the addition of sugar, can actually help physical stress. Here is an in depth article.
- Saturdated Fat. Fat does not make you fat, inherently. Thank god there has been some swing back against the “fat-free” fad of the 80s/90s. Fat is satiating, protective, and critical for making all of your hormones. Saturated fat is also, arguably, healthier than unsaturated fat, which flies in the face of “conventional wisdom”. Though I don’t prescribe to all of Paleo dogma (mostly fear of Polyunsaturated fats, carbs and sugar), here is a good case for Saturated fat in the diet
- Salt. Salt is good for you. And very helpful if you are in a low metabolic and stressed adrenal state.
My Food Phobia History
I have had some serious food phobias. For the past ten years- and even until very recently. I thought I had good reasons to hide behind diets too- “for health”.
Ohhhhhhhh yes. Mine was a noble cause. Or so I thought. I “have” PCOS: imbalanced hormones. And the doctors link it to “insulin resistance”. Which means: don’t eat sugar, watch your carbs, eat sensibly, control your weight, and if you do those things you may be able to manage your incurable condition, but only if you’re lucky. What a thing to tell a 14 year old. (At a perfectly normal weight.)
(When in truth, I think that my hormonal problems are mostly caused by environmental factors in conjunction with disordered eating habits + a hell of a lot of stress. Read: binge eating industrially produced fake foods. Binge eating caused by mental food deprivation.
Thus began the fear of certain foods. And every year or so, when I moved onto the next militant regimen, the villain and the fear transferred to a new food group. Go figure. This alone proves that diets don’t work. But, I had to learn the hard way, as most people do.
Not only were foods a problem, but I literally felt guilty and anxious every time I was sitting and not “exercising”. Woof.
Fast forward to a few years ago, I had the strong sense that diets weren’t the answer. I was being drawn to intuitive eating. I knew I needed some mental relief from the burden I was carrying. The burden of – If I didn’t find the answer, my health would only further deteriorate. I felt like a ticking time bomb.
But even though I knew that intuitive eating was the answer- I kept getting sucked back into diets “for health”. I thought that I had to do modified intuitive eating. I thought that I was too sensitive to sugar or whatever the feared-food a la mode was to actually let go fully.
At times I would have intuitive eating success, then get sucked back into diets and lose all of the peaceful ground I had gained. (This is because modified intuitive eating isn’t the real deal.)
The latest alternative health diet escapade I went on was the Paleo Diet. No grains. It is supposed to cure everyone of all their health problems- ever, and maybe all of your earthly woes, too. I read many instances where people were cured of PCOS on the Paleo Diet. Yessss I had finally found it!
But not me! All the diet did was make me frighteningly orthorexic again. So afraid of sugar. Grains are evil, gluten is the devil. (Now, some people truly are sensitive or allergic to gluten. And their avoidance can be legitimate….) I, on the other hand, decided I must have a gluten intolerance, because apparently “everyone does”. Even though, there is no concrete evidence that I do. I even told people I did so I could avoid it in peace and heal and then spread the word to the world that gluten was causing all their problems.
The sad thing is, I really was doing this for my health. I was trying to take care of myself. I wanted balanced hormones and good sleep. Things were off, but I didn’t realize that they were most likely off because of YEARS of denying myself certain foods. Even if I was not depriving myself calorically, I was always, one way or another, denying myself mentally. I had convinced myself I didn’t like the taste of sweet things at all. In retrospect, it was just the phobia of what sweet things were doing to me. Not a genuine dislike at all. And, I really DID feel horrible after eating sugar because I restricted it so much and so often that my body was getting worse at handling it. Use it or lose it!
Even though I knew that my food fear was life disrupting, it took going too low-carb, researching what was wrong, and finding ample evidence for carbs and sugar, among other things, that I now have come to believe are 100% healthy and important. And slowly but surely, my body adapted to carbs again.
What’s To Come
I intend to write a series of posts that are much more in depth on why the foods we fear are actually good for us. And even though I am a firm supporter and believer of whole, real, “slow” food, I will defend eating fake crap for the mentally therapeutic use of saying “Fuck It” to fear.
Bad food is not as harmful as we think, especially when eaten in the right mind frame.
So Fuck It!