Most of the diets I've tried in my "past dieting life" restricted the number of calories I could eat, but gave me one loop hole. I could eat all the so-called "free foods" I wanted - cucumber, celery, carrots, sugar-free candy, popsicles and chewing gum. And I took full advantage!
Looking at these "free" foods from a strictly caloric perspective, this idea makes sense. Most diets are based on a reduced calorie intake. Once you've eaten your quota for the day, and you still want to put food into your mouth, what do you do? Eat calorie "free" foods, of course!
I've found that these "free" foods are not as innocuous as they might seem, especially for those of us who have an issue with overeating or emotional eating, and who want to break free of these behaviors.
Here's a suggestion: The next time you eat a "calorie free" or "reduced calorie" or "low calorie" food option, let it pique your curiosity.
Some mindful questions to ask are: "What am I feeling?", "What's going on right now?", "Am I truly hungry?", "What do I really need in place of this food?"
I gave up eating chewing gum on a regular basis and now chew it very infrequently as a breath freshener. I realized that most of the time I pulled out a stick of gum, unwrapped it and shoved it in my mouth, I suppressed a feeling I did not want to acknowledge.
I began to understand that chewing gum soothed and calmed me down and helped me center myself temporarily. I now have other ways to get back to my center - journaling, meditating and movement practices.
The next time you reach for food - even the calorie-free variety - and you know it's not out of hunger, see if you can get to what's really going on.
Stopping for just a moment to look at something as simple as a piece of gum, before you put it into your mouth, can be a key to opening a treasure chest of insights and ideas that will help you to live your life diet free.
Diet programs and advertisers often advise eating all the calorie-free foods you want. Go ahead, they say, it's only chewing gum. But is it?