Food Addiction, Deprivation, and the Giada-Effect

Giada De Laurentiis pulls a batch of danishes out of the oven.
They’re stuffed with a combo of melted chocolate and gooey cheese. Then she picks one up and takes a bite, telling viewers about the flakiness of the outside and the decadent little pocket on the inside.
 
She places the confection on a small plate right next to a thick white cookie covered in mousse with berries sprinkled on top, then slices into her creamy cookie dessert and takes a bite. 
 
At that moment the TV screen is perfection: Food to die for and the flawlessness that is Giada De Laurentiis. 
 
So you start thinking, “If Giada can eat sweet yummy things and look that good, then why can’t I? And if I don’t have time to bake it myself, then what’s the difference in just going to the store and buying it? I should be able to indulge like Giada and look that great.”
 
But the reality is, we’re not all built like Giada. Our body chemistry doesn’t say “you’re satisfied, so push the plate away” after just a bite or two. Our body chemistry says something more like this, “Give me that whole damn sheet of danishes,” or it says, “This sugar rush feels excellent right now, and in fifteen minutes I will be nodding off at my desk.”
 
Who’s Your Giada?
 
Your Giada is the person in your life who can have a couple bites of cake, get satisfied, push it away at the table, and forget it existed. Your Giada never gains an ounce. And seeing your Giada experience delicious food without repercussion might make you believe you can do the same.
 
Maybe your Giada is your best friend, a sibling, or a coworker. Maybe your Giada is your own spouse. Whoever your Giada is, if you’re not also a Giada, it can mess with your mind. At first you experience denial and eat like her because you think you can get away with it. But then little things like this start adding up: 
 
  1. Getting satisfied: A couple bites of cake makes you want the entire cake. 
  2. Energy levels: A couple cookies makes you happy, and then lethargic, and then in need of either more cookie or an IV of coffee in order to get your energy back up. 
  3. Weight gain: Little desserts just don’t give you the trim figure you see your Giada sporting.
 
So in an effort to attain the Giada-effect, you try moderation. You allow yourself a few bites here or there, and that’s fine, except...
 
Except. 
 
After a month of moderate servings, little nibbles, and bites of this or that, you realize you’re eating just as much as you were before, but it’s spread out over a longer period of time. The goodies your coworkers bring in, the yummy stuff you eat at your family’s house, the church gatherings, the school gatherings, the sugary samples at Starbucks, the fast food you had to grab on the days you were busy, the stuff your kid left on his plate -- it all adds up.
 
Owning the Addiction
 
If eating crap food worked for you, you’d look amazing right now. If eating crap food worked for you, you’d feel fantastic right now. 
 
Savoring a few treats every now and then wouldn’t make you feel guilty or hungry, and you could push the plate away easily. You’d be happy with your body, and you wouldn’t ever feel the need to eat an excess of the stuff that most other people just can’t resist. 
 
If eating crap food does infact work for you, then stop reading this right now and go eat a bite of something naughty for me. But if not, and you’re ready to make a long-term change, then keep reading because I want to teach you how to ditch the stuff that doesn’t do you any favors.
 
It’s Only Deprivation If You’re Addicted
 
You may think that getting the junk out of your life is nazi-like behavior that leads to malnourishment and deprivation. But it’s not. Would you call a person who quit smoking deprived? Going without nutritionally-void goodies won’t keep you from living a robust life. 
 
You have access to clean water. You have access to nourishing food. If you’re used to eating junk, then yes, when you remove it, you will feel deprived. You are chemically addicted to sugar-filled foods. In order to not feel deprived, you’ll need to break the addiction.
 
Hanging onto little bits and pieces of the junk you know you’re addicted to is like hiding little bottles of vodka in your cupboards while attending AA meetings. When you’re addicted to junk, allowing it to linger infrequently in your diet just makes you worship it even more than you would if you had continual access to it.
 
Don’t believe me? Have you ever known someone who eats healthfully all week and then consumes a giant dessert during his weekend “cheat-meal”? Don’t think he doesn’t fantasize about that food during the weekdays. Don’t think he doesn’t feel bereft without it on the days he doesn’t have access to it. After all, he’s “depriving” himself the other six days a week.
 
It’s only deprivation if you’re addicted. Kick the addiction, and you’ll never feel deprived. 
 
Put Your Blinders On. Free Yourself Forever.
 
If you focus on what you “can’t” eat you will desire it more. That’s why in order to stop craving it, you have to change your thinking when it comes to food and nourishment. There is a point at which your greatest temptations will no longer tempt you… it just takes time and patience to get there. 
 
 
Want to get there? Don’t focus on what you're not eating. Put your blinders on and focus on the foods that will make you feel your best. Prepare healthy food so that it’s pleasurable and always available. Swap what you were eating for nourishing options. Focus on resetting your preferences for stuff that you don’t feel deprived without. 
 
Here’s a tip: The things that are good for you are the ones that won’t make you feel deprived when you go without. 
 
When I first started bodybuilding, my family was not about to eat like me. As a teenager I walked straight past my family’s pizza, enchiladas, fried chicken, ice cream, and other junk night after night. But those foods didn’t tempt me. Why? Because I refused to see them. They didn’t tempt me because I had a vision of the kind of person I wanted to be. And junk food was not part of that vision. I refused to accept the lie that you’re deprived if you don’t eat crap. And instead of feeling sorry for myself, I felt sorry for everyone else
 
I still do. I feel sorry for those who are addicted to crap. They are not Giadas. Giada is not addicted. Giada does not feel deprived. 
 
Ignore Like a Boss
 
To get yourself unaddicted you have to stop thinking that a little here or there works for you. That’s called rationalization, and it’s what is keeping you from freeing yourself. It’s what’s causing you to eat a little more, and a little more, and then a little more. And if you’re saving it for the weekend, it’s what’s making you feel deprived all week long until you can have it again.
 
Put your blinders on and stop seeing the junk. Ignore like a boss, as my husband once told me. That applies to everything -- critics, annoying coworkers, or anyone who wants to see you fail. That also applies to the crap food that surrounds you, and the Giadas who eat it in front of you. 
 
 
Grow some balls when it comes to your food. Are you letting weekend splurges control you? Are you letting office goodies hold you captive? Stop seeing the stuff that throws you off. Get focused.
 
If you’re not a Giada, realize the impact that crap food will have on you before you put it in your mouth. Prepare for that if you do put it in your mouth. And then move along. We can’t all be Giada, but we can avoid the Giada-effect.