Confessions of a Recovering Chip-a-Holic
Growing up one of the staples in my diet were potato chips. After school, every day... Cheez-Its, Lays, Ruffles, whatever... and usually with dip.
We always had them around, and it was just something my whole family did. A lot of families have daily, almost tradition-like things they just do, because that's what they've always done.
My family's tradition came in a crinkly, foil-lined bag.
One thing that I look back to now about this time is Doug, who is one of my best friends. I would go to his house and we'd have a discussion about the validity of the claim (Thanks, Frito-Lay!) that "You can't eat just one.”
Doug was sure that it could be done. I was sure that it was impossible.
For years afterward, any time I went over to his house, the first thing he would do is take out a bag of chips and a tub of dip. He'd set it on the counter, take one chip, dunk it into the dip, eat it, and then put it all away.
I found it baffling, to be honest. His willpower, I thought at the time, must be at X-Men levels.
(I know now, of course, that Doug is an outlier, because potato chips are designed specifically to be both nutrition-less and able to hit a scientifically determined balance between crunchiness, saltines, sweetness, and fat-content. Big food companies care more about your brain than your mouth. For a really great take on why and how these companies have turned us all into addicts, check out Michael Moss's fantastic book Salt, Sugar, Fat.)
Fast forward to my college years, and all that chip eating finally caught up with me. Despite staying active, I developed a laundry list of illnesses. One of these was colitis, which meant that I could no longer eat fried or spicy foods, nuts, or cheese.
Which is what I was eating constantly.
So, I had a choice: Remain sick and beat down (and on the verge of having to have invasive surgery), or give up fried foods (including potato chips).
And it was HARD.
I would like to tell you that it was easy, but it in no way was. It was miserable.
But... just a short time after just removing those several categories of food from my diet (and not adding anything new in), I felt a huge shift in my health. I felt markedly better.
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... Not as I do
The interesting thing about my experience is that it's the exact opposite of what I teach our members. I eliminated the bad stuff first, instead of crowding in the good stuff so that the bad stuff eventually no longer fits in your cupboards or on your plate. It might have been nice (and easier!) to know that back then, but ultimately my experience has been a blessing. I know what not to do, and have the experiences to back it up!
The goal is to eventually get to a point where the food doesn't have control over you. The goal isn't that you can't ever have a chip again. It's that you either won't want one, or eat one and not feel so bad about it that it ruins your whole week.
After about a year of generally staying away from fried foods (a single french fry would make me not-so-great, so that was a pretty decent deterrent), I finally switched over to a fully plant-based diet. And after years on, it's amazing to me that I was once so sick. My health is better. Every day is better than the last. My whole life is better.
It might seem impossible to see yourself making such a radical change in your own life, even if you're sure that it'll drastically help—or eliminate altogether—whatever health issues you are having now. But the truth is that it IS possible. Even for a chip-a-holic like me! The key is to find a program (ours, of course, or another one that focuses on holistic wellness), and then just start taking baby steps.
Nothing happens overnight. But once you start moving toward health, momentum kicks in.
One last story:
I went to dinner with my brother a few weeks ago, and he was shocked when I reached over my salad and stole a french fry off his plate. Wide eyed, he watched as I ate it.
“I can't believe you just did that!” he said.
I just shrugged.
“How was it?” he asked.
“You know what?” I said. “It tastes awful.”
I'd like to think Doug would've been proud of me.
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