Have you ever had a food put off limits? I have.
When I was 10 years old and my mom wanted to make a “special” dessert for a holiday or birthday, she would buy Cool Whip. Maybe you’re familiar with it.
Once I saw it in the fridge, like any 10-year-old, I immediately asked if I could eat it. She hastily said, “No, I’m saving that for guests. Don’t touch it!”
All of a sudden I couldn’t get Cool Whip out of my head. It’s like Homer Simpson and the “Land of Chocolate.” Except I was in the “Land of Cool Whip.”
I pleaded with my mom. She stood her ground and said no.
I explained to her my Cool Whip plan of action: When I was old enough to drive, I would go to the grocery store and buy my own tub of Cool Whip. Then I could eat the entire thing.
She wasn’t impressed. I don’t think she was listening to my Cool Whip plans. She was busy making desserts for guests.
I enlisted my sister in the plan since she was older and got her driving privileges first.
Fast forward 4 years…
The magical day arrived! My sister could drive! We hadn’t forgotten about our Cool Whip deal — we went right to the grocery store and picked up our tubs. Freedom!! This was gonna be awesome!!
But you know what?
I had about 2 bites and I didn’t want anymore.
How could this be?
I think it’s because I now had access to an entire freezer section of Cool Whip. It was no longer off limits.
Furthermore, I realized that Cool Whip didn’t taste that good. It only tasted good when I did the “no one is looking Cool Whip finger scoop” — directly from the container. Pathetic.
Needless to say, I haven’t thought about Cool Whip for years.
Now, would the same thing have happened if my mom put pomegranates off limits? What about pinto beans? I don’t really know.
I do know that the times when I observe people get obsessed about a specific food, and then completely overeat a specific food, is when they put it off limits.
Maybe they put themselves on a diet that outlaws pizza. Then what do they want? Pizza. What do they end up doing? Eating way too much pizza. What happens to them for the rest of their lives (if the diet was drawn out and strict enough)? They want to eat pizza. What happens to their health and body composition goals? Well, their body looks like it’s fed a lot of pizza.
“After the food restriction, subjects noticed frequent gorging/binging, fear of no food, feeling hungry even when ‘stuffed,’ always feeling fat.”
– Todd Tucker (from The Great Starvation Experiment)
Obviously, we have to know the foods we can act sane around. Some foods are better off uneaten – forever, and they are different for everyone. See Good vs. Too Good for more.
What if we approached every day with the idea that we can eat any food we desire?
What if we built in all of the foods we enjoy to our regular meal rotation?
Would we want to overconsume them? Would they be as desirable?
Do you put any foods off limits? Why?
Does it result in rebound overeating?
Is this helping you achieve your health and body composition goals?
Would it be better just to go find some Cool Whip… and then be disappointed by it?
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