It’s OK to Keep ‘Junk Food’ in the House

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If I don’t keep cookies in the house, then I can’t eat them!

Ever said something like that? Me too.

And then when I finally did let myself eat the cookies, I’d go overboard.

In my mind, I’d hit a temporary jackpot and needed to fit in as many cookies as I could because who knows the next time I’d let myself do something like this again?

Even as someone who does my best to eat intuitively, I still find myself doing this from time to time. It really is a tough habit to break. But more recently, I’ve adopted a different approach. And it’s working.

Take Urgency Out of the Equation

I’ve seen the term “Abundance Mindset” mentioned in a few places, regarding everything from finances to fertility. Here’s what it means for me in relation to food:

The realization that I really can eat whatever I want whenever I want. An abundance of food is available any time. Those cookies? They are literally less than a mile away at the store. There is absolutely no urgency to polish off the whole package. They will always be available to me.

Such a simple concept, right? So then why did some of you immediately think, I could never do that?

I get it. Moderation really isn’t all that sexy. It’s much cooler to say you’ve sworn off certain foods and then make sure everyone around you knows about it.* It’s called food perfectionism and it’s not a fun way to live.

An abundance mindset, on the other hand, seems much less efficient at first. Why? Because it takes work.

And by the way, I’m not referring to allergies and food sensitivities in any of this. If a food needs to be avoided so you don’t get sick, that’s your call (and your doctor’s).

When it comes to food, the concept of abundance requires a certain level of trust in our ability to make the “right” choice. And that’s scary because most people don’t feel ready for that sort of freedom.

But the popular alternative is to set all of these rules around food and ward off the “bad guys” because you’re not sure what will happen and you’d rather not find out because you need to fit into your jeans by next Friday. It’s pretty exhausting.

An abundance mindset stands in direct opposition. The whole point is find out what will happen. To trust the process. To experience food freedom.

Because for some of us, not exposing ourselves to the food we so desperately want speaks volumes about the power it has over us. We think we’re the one in control. But the funny thing is that we’re not in control at all. The food has so much power over us that we won’t let ourselves be around it for fear of bowing down in defeat.

I get it. We say no to certain foods because they don’t align with our goals. And when “just don’t keep it in the house” advice starts pouring in, we take it because it makes sense. And it does. It really can serve us well for a season. But some of us may reach a point where we need to dive a little deeper.

Abundance Mindset 101

So buy the cookies. Keep your “forbidden food” in the house for a couple weeks. Allow yourself to eat some every single day. Or don’t eat any at all.

The point is to expose yourself to the cookies. To understand that they are there, but you get to call the shots for once.

Here’s where it gets real. Are you scared you’ll overeat on your first try? You might. It could happen a second time too. And then a third.

Give yourself permission to experience what you think is “failure,” but stay mindful the entire time. Eventually, the newness will wear off and you’ll be able to eat more intuitively. And I get it. This all sounds kind of whimsical — especially when you’re used to a checklist of structured food rules. But I promise this is worth a shot. Keep a journal if you think it will help you.

Above all, take things slowly and with lots of grace. Consistently expose yourself to the food until it loses its luster and becomes less forbidden. Which doesn’t mean you don’t savor the food or love it any less, by the way. It just means you’re free.

Written by

Wellness enthusiast. Kindred spirit. Certified health coach. I teach people how to eat with grace instead of guilt. Instagram: @vanessa.bradford

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