In my last post about RRARF, I talked about giving up sweets. I could tell this topic was met with some resistance and I wanted to elaborate on it a little. As someone with a lifelong sweet tooth, going sweets-free for 30 days is quite an endeavor for me to take on. I may have given the impression that I was going to be exerting some intense willpower and woefully depriving myself of what I craved. But this would definitely be in opposition to my crusade against dieting. Why? Because...
DEPRIVATION IS DIETING!
That's exactly what dieting is: depriving yourself of one thing or another. Whether it's calories, fat, carbs, sweets or whatever. And this extends beyond what we eat. We can also deprive ourselves of fresh air, sleep, pure water, sunshine, downtime, self-esteem, healthy relationships, living with purpose, or any number of things. It doesn't matter. In the end, deprivation in any form activates the starvation response in the body. Why? Because deprivation is stressful! Deprivation triggers a mental and emotional cascade that ultimately leads to a strong physiological response.
RRARF by definition is the opposite of deprivation. Instead of depriving yourself, you aim give your body all the support it needs through Rehabilitative Rest and Aggressive Re-Feeding. Deprivation is not on the menu.
So then how is cutting out all sweets for 30 days not deprivation? Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't. Everyone is different. And everyone's metabolic state is different. For some people, giving up sugar is like giving up a limb. There's no doubt in my mind that two years ago, going without sweets would have been extreme deprivation for me. I would have given in to cookies-and-cream ice cream within 36 hours and probably would have felt like a complete failure. But today, I'm finding (with some degree of surprise) that it's no big deal.
These 30 days of RRARF are an experiment for me, not a testament of my personal virtue. I am no model of willpower and nor do I want to be. My intentions on RRARF are to test my own body's cues and whether or not they change under certain conditions. I want to know how sugar makes me feel and see if it interferes with following my internal cues. For instance, is it easier for me to turn down Halloween candy when my stomach is full of hamburgers and potatoes? My answer: absolutely!
But guess what? I still wanted some Halloween candy this year. In fact, I had to stop and consider whether or not I really wanted to turn it down at the risk of feeling deprived. After a little pondering I figured that I was more interested in going through with this experiment than munching on some chocolate. Once I made that decision, I didn't feel like this was an act of willpower any more. It wasn't about being "good" on a program or avoiding "bad" foods. It was something I wanted to do for my own personal reasons. Willpower and deprivation are very subjective, as I have come to personally understand.
So yes, I was able to turn down Halloween candy this year without feeling deprived. That's new to me. But I want to be honest: I don't think I can live without anything sweet in the long-term without feeling some serious deprivation. Milk and fruit certainly have their place in a healthy diet. And so do things like cheesecake and coconut oil fudge.
The take-home message today is this: don't deprive yourself. Instead, consider your personal wants and needs, as well as your current state of health. Then you can make decisions about what's practical and beneficial for you at this time. What may feel like deprivation to you right now may not feel the same way in a few weeks or a few months. So take the time to re-evaluate your needs now and then as well. That way you get the best results for your health.
If you want to know more about RRARF, you can download Matt Stone's RRARF e-book for free and get all the nitty gritty details. And you can also see what Matt has to say concerning the truth about dieting and deprivation in this video presentation.
Other RRARF Posts:
Day 1 on RRARF: What is RRARF?
Day 2 on RRARF: Why I'm Doing It
Day 3 on RRARF: Rest and Relaxation
Day 7 on RRARF: Benefits Already!
Day 8 on RRARF: Eat the Food!
Day 9 on RRARF: Adieu, Le Sucre!
Day 21 on RRARF: Deprivation is Dieting
Day 23 on RRARF: Life Without the Scale
RRARF vs. The Milk Diet
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.