Losing weight and maintaining at a healthy goal is not only challenging, but it involves some serious changes. I’ve written before how scary change can be, and how our fear of that can hold us back. I can remember well when I started this new, healthy journey five years ago all I could see and think about were the foods I was ‘giving up’ and the ‘rules’ I would be taking on. In particular, I was highly skeptical that the key to my success would be in eating more vegetables. Vegetables? Yuck!
At first, I reluctantly had my five servings of fruits and veggies a day, but I stashed as many spare calories as I could, and I ‘earned’ as many extras as possible, in order to spend them on my ‘gotta-have-it’ foods. There were many days when I would make myself run five miles in order to bank up enough calories to have for those ‘necessary’ foods.
Over time, however, I began to see how ludicrous it was to work so hard to eat so little. That maple scone from Starbucks just stopped being worth it to me. Other snacks and candies also fell by the wayside, not only because I couldn’t spare the extra calories, but because eventually I just stopped enjoying them.
And once I had been eating a moderate number of calories every day for a couple of months, I also began to notice that the junkier the food was, the less satisfied I felt and the more irritable and hungry I became. Its not that those foods lost their sensory allure. I still felt pangs when I smelled the exhaust from the Wonderbread factory near my house on donut day. But my experience was beginning to show me that those aromas and tastes were deceptive.
It took me a long time, but ultimately I realized that when I ate more vegetables and had lighter, soup-based meals, my overall sense of satisfaction was improved. Zucchini isn’t chocolate, but it is a fantastic vegetable and highly versatile. And when I branched out and began including more ‘exotic’ veggies from Asian and South American cuisine, I discovered new and different tastes and textures.
Looking back, I would say there was a period of withdrawal, both physical and mental. From the physical standpoint, there were major body/brain chemistry changes when I weaned myself from refined sugars (particularly baked goods, pastries, cookies, etc.). Psychologically, I also had to face the fact that a bowl of ice cream didn’t hold the answers to my stresses and frustrations.
Now all these years later, I still think of myself as (at the very least) susceptible to temptation, and there is hardly a time when I walk past a candy display or a bakery case that I don’t feel the pull of uncontrolled desire. But there IS a difference. Things HAVE changed.
Last week when I was at Costco to get some frozen veggies for the week, a customer who had arrived at the freezer case ahead of me was busy pulling out the large bags, inspecting them, and then putting them back. I thought this was kind of odd, until I realized he was checking the expiration date. On FROZEN vegetables. I started to laugh, because I go through two large bags a WEEK!! Yes, every week. And that’s in addition to the salads and other fresh veggies that I sprinkle in my diet wherever possible.
So clearly, change is not only necessary and desirable, it is also possible. Even for an old die-hard like me.
And just in case you want to know, frozen vegetables have a shelf life of 18-24 months. But you probably will want to eat them sooner than that. Trust me.