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To Carb or Not to Carb
Once more, a session with a client has got me thinking: if you don’t know whether or not you have difficulty metabolizing particular foods such as wheat or sugar, do you try to eat them “normally” or avoid them completely? Obviously, if you’ve been tested and diagnosed with a food allergy, you’ll want to steer clear. Remember, testing is the only way to know for certain that you have a bona fide food allergy (see my blog archive). Craving and having difficulty staying away from a food does not constitute a food allergy or addiction, so please don’t convince yourself that the problem is physical when it could be mental/emotional.
That said, it’s difficult to know how to proceed if you react badly to a food. You could give it—sugar, fats, wheat or even most carbohydrates—up completely. However: OA members avoid food for decades, then sometimes try a bite and succumb to overeating it because they can’t stop. Does this mean they have a physical addiction or a psychological dependence? My guess is that a “normal” eater who, for some reason, was unable to eat a certain food might also find a well remembered taste heavenly when she resumed eating it, so falling in love with the food again seems natural. The question is whether you spin out of control for emotional or physical reasons.
If a food really spells trouble and you’ve tried and failed to eat it “normally” (with rational beliefs about it for at least six months), it’s okay to stop eating it as long as the decision doesn’t make you feel deprived and crave the food more. Your thinking might go something like this, “I feel awful every time I eat this food and can eat it, but choose not to because of the consequences. Everyone makes choices about things and I’m making one here.” You need this exact mindset to not feel deprived—in order to look around and see other people eating the offending food and not want what they have or, to be more exact, to want it and decide against eating it.
There’s nothing wrong with cutting foods out of your life for the right reasons: if you don’t think that you’re bad for eating them or virtuous for passing them u[, if you don’t believe that life is unfair because you can’t eat whatever you want, if you’re not obsessed by what you forbid yourself, if saying no doesn’t keep you focused on food. I strongly advise you to try learning to eat challenging foods “normally,” and to get tested to see what you truly can’t eat. Having a food allergy is serious business, as is making peace with food whether you have an allergy or not. Either way, you need to have your head on straight to make healthy food choices.