Today I’m grateful for comfort meals. You know the one(s). Those meals that you could eat every day. The one(s) that can transport you back in time to fond childhood memories. Meals that, no matter how unhealthy, just make you feel good.
My comfort meal? A hamburger patty and baked potato.
Probably sounds strange, I know.
But since I was probably 4 or 5 years old I can remember loving when my mom cooked me a hamburger and baked potato. I was a picky eater and she knew that was one simple meal that I would always eat.
And when compared to my other go-to childhood favorites like chicken nuggets/fries and fried catfish and fries, the hamburger/baked potato combo was much healthier. Which meant I ate it regularly.
Fast forward to today. My wife and I have been experimenting with intermittent fasting and a ketogenic diet.
Basically, a keto diet is super high fat / low carb diet, which when executed properly, results in your body creating ketone bodies from fat that are used for energy instead of glucose. This results in better insulin control, faster fat loss, and improved brain function. Read more about the benefits of a keto diet here.
These benefits are very similar to the benefits of intermittent fasting. Plus fasting helps your body get into, and stay in ketosis, so the two go hand-in-hand.
As you might have guessed, potatoes are not keto friendly. Trust me. I Googled it. But I love them. Potatoes are my keto-kryptonite.
I might not have faltered if it weren’t for last nights party, which started off great. We had lots keto-friendly snacks like celery and our favorite gouda dip and veggies with ranch, and several low carb alcoholic drink options. I cooked hamburgers for the adults and hot dogs for the kids.
We ate our hamburgers loaded with cheese and condiments in between leaves of lettuce instead of a bun. We were rocking it.
But then it happened. After too many drinks and all of our friends gone we cracked. We both ate two leftover hot dogs with *gasp* buns.
Not only did we sabotage our keto diet, we ate outside the 8-hour window. Late night drunk eating might be our biggest roadblock when it comes to keto and fasting. The first step is to recognize there’s a problem, right?
So why did I choose to eat the potato today instead of resetting and starting fresh? Maybe I wanted that little bit of comfort.
Or perhaps I played the same psychological trick on myself that happens with any addiction/attachment.
You know when you decide to eliminate a bad habit like smoking, drinking, drugs, watching porn, etc? You’re doing well and then you slip up. Instead of starting fresh you decide to have one last smoke, drink one more night, have one more hit, or watch one last video – just today. Or else you might decide to give up on the goal to change altogether because it’s too hard, or you think all your hard work is erased.
You know, as I write this I no longer feel the same gratitude for those comfort meals. The way food can affect our emotions and mood based on our attachments to it are just like any other addiction.
I think there’s a case to be made for an occasional cheap meal, but today’s comfort meal wasn’t that. It was my one last hit.
Recognizing things for what they are and not lying to ourselves is a part of growth and maturity. So is developing the ability to delay pleasure.
I have to keep reminding myself that becoming the best version of yourself is a lifelong process. We all screw up and eat a hot dog sometimes. Just don’t let the damn hot dog derail all your hard work.
You know.. as I was writing this update I thought of something different that I’m grateful for.
I’m truly grateful for all the positive dietary changes I’ve made over the years.
You see, in addition to my hamburger and baked potato I had earlier, I also ate 2 – 3 cups of steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots covered in avocado oil. That’s a long way from the kid who would only eat canned green beans with his hamburger and baked potato. And it’s a long way from the 22-year-old who ate fast food every day for lunch and had a Snickers bar and a Mountain Dew for an afternoon snack.
The best part about changing our diet over the years is that it gave us a better perspective on food when we had kids. As babies, we made it a point to introduce vegetables first, followed by fruit. We avoided giving them cookies, chips, and candy for probably the first 3 years. That is until we felt the social pressure of friends and family who acted like we were somehow torturing our children by not giving them junk food and sweets.
The result? Our girls love fruits and vegetables more than chicken nuggets and french fries. They love making a plate full of raw spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, and tomatoes on “make your own salad” night. They love simple and healthy meals like black beans with brown rice and quinoa. And that feels pretty good.