Were You "Bad" Over the Holidays?

Now seems like a great time to ponder bad* food cravings. After Christmas a lot of us are treating ourselves like bad dogs. Then again, cravings sometime come out of wanting to be bad. Because being bad is radical, fun and interesting. Being good is tedious, boring and difficult. That's just my opinion. Cheating on our diets allows us to be bad in ways that are legal. I don't recommend cheating on your spouse or robbing a bank in the place of eating your favorite cheesecake.


Your chocolate is in my wine! Mmm . . . two of my favorite bad foods together. Photo from the Chocolate and Wine Festival.

Our favorite bad foods make us high and light just like drugs do. We feel good and enjoy a little escape for a while. I think sugar cravings happen especially at the work place at 3:00 pm when the day was slowed down a bit and boredom has set in. Eating sugar is kind of like getting on the Tilt A Whirl. Who wouldn't want to get on a fun ride and leave the boredom and stress of the office or home (if you take care of kids). Of course, then later comes the sugar crash.

I think author Geneen Roth offers the best advice, "Never underestimate the desire to bolt from your feelings." We don't want to feel our feelings so we bolt or eat something so we don't have to experience the intensity of our pain, anguish, or sadness. We can also eat badly when good things happen. Celebratory foods do not usually consist of green veggies and brown rice. I'll toast to that! We want to extend the feeling of lightness and joy through food and drink. What Geneen is really trying to say is that feelings are like our Chicago weather. It might be cold and gray then an hour later the sun is out. You feel one thing, then another feeling comes up. Good or bad feelings don't last forever. I have learned it's actually better to sit with my feelings and cry it out then to eat a bowl of ice cream (that I can't digest anyway). I found out that after a while of sitting with my feelings I didn't die, burst into flames or have a heart attack like I thought I might. In fact I felt like I just experienced a detox. 

Getting back to the fun of being bad, the irony is that by being bad once in a while we appreciate being good. Can you pencil in a few ways to be bad this week? Refuse an invite to a party you really didn't want to go to anyway? Instead of working out at the gym could you take that sensuous belly dancing class? Can you schedule an hour this week to just color outside of the lines? 

Sometimes it's all a matter of satisfying cravings with a healthier upgrade. Here are a few examples: I love red licorice but it's filled with gluten and sugar so I opt for goji berries, which have a similar texture and taste. I love (adore, is a more accurate word) chocolate. Instead of eating mainstream chocolate candy I choose a raw cacao version. Instead of snacking on Doritos I prefer a salty snack like Terra Chips or Organic Blue Corn tortilla chips. This is my way of having my cake and eating it too as well as honoring all my bad ways.

*Concept of bad food cravings was originally written about in Joshua Rosenthal's Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness from an adapted article by Thomas Leonard.

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