The other day, I had a craving for boba at the end of my work day.
For a little background, bobas are little, squishy balls o’ starch made from boiled tapioca (a very processed, refined carb) that are added to a sweetened drink (containing processed, refined sugars).
It’s pretty much your worst nightmare if you’re trying to avoid carbs, sugar, or anything good in this world.
Perhaps to contend with this, most boba shops allow you to ask for your drink full-sweet, half-sweet, or a quarter-sweet.
Back when I was dieting and, you know, cared about calories and sugar and stuff… I would order quarter-sweet and always be disappointed because it was not good. Not at all.
And before you assume that I’m about to recommend that we all get full-sweet all the time, hang on. Maybe this isn’t your average anti-diet blog post. (Or maybe it is! Keep reading to find out.)
You see, my craving for a full-sweet boba made my brain sputter all kinds of logical reasons why I shouldn’t. After all, there’s a lot of noise about sugar out there in the world.
I knew it would be hard on my body to consume so many processed sugars on an empty stomach (especially when boba has a glycemic index closer to 100 than anything ever — that’s half a joke and half pretty close to the truth). I also knew it would be more kind to my body (and especially my pancreas) to pair such a sweet indulgence with some protein.
But my body was beggin’ for full-sweet boba and nothing more. So, being the little Psycho-Spiritual Wellness coach that I am, I ignored allllll the mental chatter and got the full-sweet boba.
And boy was it tasty.
And boyyy did I feel nauseous a couple hour later.
Was all that mental chatter right, then? It doesn’t really matter, because here’s the thing:
Because I listened to my body instead of my brain (even though my brain was probably “right” about it) I avoided the restrict-binge cycle.
We all know what would have happened if I made myself get a quarter-sweet boba instead: I would have been unsatisfied, resentful, and binged on sweets later that night.
Even though listening to my body ultimately led to a nauseous stomach, there is a positive side effect that comes from this: the idea of a full-sweet boba after work now sounds disgusting.
And because I came to this realization WITHOUT the resentment or dissatisfaction that comes with restriction, I don’t perpetuate the cycle.
I don’t end up binge eating sweets late at night. The cycle stops here. I had the full-sweet boba, it tasted delicious, it also made me nauseous, and I probably won’t crave it after work for quite some time.
Does it make you nervous if junk foods don’t make you feel nauseous? Do you worry that you’re too different from me and thus not-dieting won’t work because you don’t have the same natural fail-safes in place (i.e. a full-sweet boba wouldn’t make you feel nauseous, so you feel too different for this to work)? Well, please let me shoot some of these fears down.
MOST people won’t have negative reactions to “unhealthy foods” (whatever that means) when first giving up dieting. Eating patterns are usually too sporadic for there to be any sense of equilibrium and, as a result, it’s hard to get clear signals from your body. And as you go through the very, very scary Rebellion Binge stage of giving up dieting, things won’t get immediately better — but! But but but…
As you stick with it and continue to listen to your body (even when it craves full-sweet boba on an empty stomach) you’ll catch glimpses of clarity. Maybe one day a full-sweet boba doesn’t make you nauseous but it doesn’t really appeal to you anymore. This is progress.
Even if you turn around and have one the next day, you caught a glimpse of the truth: that when you allow all foods, they release their grip on you — even if it’s sugar.
And eventually you’ll find your equilibrium — you’ll find the place where you can hear what you body is trying to tell you, and you also feel normal around food.
You know that full-sweet boba will always be there, and knowing this makes you not go crazy over it.
Boba used to feel SO special to me, and now it’s whatever — and that is freedom.
PS. Are you surprised by how much mental chatter was happening, even though I stopped dieting almost 5 years ago?
For some people, the food-related mental chatter goes away as you inch closer to Food Freedom. But I’m a braniac and a pretty hardcore over-thinker. What I’ve found is that the chatter does not go away, but!
What I have found is that, as the months and years have gone by, this mental chatter has taken on a different tone. Instead of being harsh and critical, it sounds like a front desk secretary: simply informing me of the facts and unattached of the outcome, because she knows full well that I’m going to do whatever I want anyway.
I hope you get to slowly turn down the volume on your inner critic too. Just give it time and practice : )