Merriam-Webster defines self-indulgence as “excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires, or whims”. The food industry has seized on this human tendency and filled the blanks of what we are hungry for with things like, “decadent desserts”, “cheat meals” and “sinfully rich chocolate. Their marketing department goes into overdrive to make us feel good about making bad food choices. They feed into our need to be rebels. And then when we feel literally bad the next day (bloated, sluggish, heavier), they strive to appeal to our better angels by putting “25% fewer calories than other leading bands” or contains only “organic brown sugar” or some other nonsense to sucker us into buying their products and joining the 70% of Americans who are overweight/obese. They add amazing amounts of sugar, salt and fat to get us hooked on their products and constantly craving more.
I get it. For 38 years I bought into it myself, trying every pre-packaged diet frozen dinner and believing the sincere messages written on food boxes. It wasn’t until I started bodybuilding that I was able to redefine my own appetite and indulge my whims with healthy alternatives. As busy moms (or dads, or students, or worker) time is one of the biggest commodities we aim to possess. We think that by buying fast food or going to a restaurant every other day we are gaining this time, but are we really? We have to wait in line and then eat the food (which is often quite salty and calorie laden) and then pay for the whole thing, which adds up not only in dollars but in time spent. If instead, you decided to indulge yourself by buying fresh, whole foods and then cooking it all up twice a week, you get a refrigerator full of food that tastes great, saves you time trying to come up with ‘what’s for dinner?’ and saves you money in gas and tips.
Somewhere along the way big food industries tricked us into thinking that cooking…cooking(!)…was a big hassle, and hard, and confusing. We needed help with pre-packed seasonings and flavors. Be real here for a minute – when was the last time you got all excited to eat a TV dinner? Like, never. But fresh, whole food tastes fantastic. If you can splurge, taste the difference between grass-fed and corn-fed beef; it will blow you away. When you eat fresh meat, poultry and produce you won’t need to cover up the taste with sugar, high-fat cream sauces or bucketloads of salt because the natural flavor is already there. Have you been to the local farmer’s market? Their food is fresh, often cheaper and can be a fun family experience if they let you pick it from the farm.
Don’t get me wrong, an occasional chocolate chip cookie is great, but not every day. When I want to indulge in something sweet, I’ll make up sweet potato pancakes and top them with fresh berries. They’re sweet, delicious and feed my body with nutrients instead of empty calories. Know what else tastes amazing? Baked apples. For real. It tastes just as decadent as pie, but with much better ingredients. This also saves me the mental fatigue and amount of time wasted on beating myself up after binge eating junk food.
How you spend your time, where you spend your money and what you put into your mouth are all choices. Don’t let some big food company pushing their products define for you your appetites. Indulge yourself on your own terms. Aren’t you worth the hour it takes once or twice a week to cook for yourself? Aren’t you capable of figuring out how much (or how little) salt should go on your chicken? Can’t you be the ultimate rebel and tell the processed food industry where they can shove their pre-packaged meals?
Indulge yourself in a better way.
Lisa Traugott is a personal trainer, Mom’s Choice Award writer, original cast member of FOX/John Cena’s “American Grit” and has a monthly fitness column on Bowflex.com. She won Ms. Costa Rica Sports Model 2017 and her transformation story was featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers, Good Day Austin, Great Day Houston and Texas Monthly. She blogs at ShesLosingIt.com and is passionate about her clients.
ShesLosingIt.com (c) 2012-2018 Lisa Traugott. All rights reserved. No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, video, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.