How To Turn Down Foods You’d Rather Not Eat

Yesterday my coworker brought some dessert thing made out of cereal covered in peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar.  It looked yummy and the coworker raved about how delicious it tasted (and how I should really try some), but I knew it in no way fit with my current eating choices.  Today a plate of beautiful brownies appeared in the kitchen, born on the triumphant hands of another co-worker, who encouraged us to dig in.  What do you do when in this kind of dilemma?  I vacillate between explaining the whole “I’m not eating processed foods right now” story and just eating a bit of what’s offered.  You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, but you also don’t want  to compromise your standards unnecessarily.  Is there some of kind of rule you can use to decide what to do?  And if you do decide to turn down goodies, what’s the best way to do so?

If you decide to turn down proffered foods, make sure the person knows you are turning down their food, not them.  Maybe a few compliments would help (“Not right now…. That looks delicious, though!  You are such a great cook!”).  You could just explain that you’re trying a new way of eating (and feel great, by the way, thanks), or you could choose less sharing and say that you’re really full from lunch, that it looks delicious and you’ll maybe have some later….  The great news is that once people start to know you as someone who cares about healthy eating, you might not have so many awkward turn-down moments.

Alternatively, sometimes you may feel that your diet principles aren’t worth hurting someone’s feelings.  This doesn’t mean you’re a health failure.  Just make sure the following isn’t true of you: you are using this as an excuse to compromise your standards, you care about saving face or avoiding awkward situations more than you care about your health, or you are being too hard on yourself in the first place (some lifestyle changes can benefit from transition phases).

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RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #1- Lentil Bulgur Pilaf

Lentil Bulgur Pilaf

So, today is day 1, but I’m not sure if I’m going to try any recipes today.  Mostly because I need to go shopping for ingredients first.   For breakfast I ate the granola I made last night…. I did use some almond milk, which is technically processed.  I haven’t decided yet if that’s going to be ok.  I could make my own, I suppose.  I think the RAVE book suggests using fruit juice or applesauce or something….

Lunchtime was at someone’s house and all I’m going to say is that I can’t be held responsible for what I ate there. 😛  No, really it was all allowed, I believe, except for the oil.  The RAVE book doesn’t use oils of any kind, either, and I haven’t yet decided how closely I’m going to adhere to that.  My husband is head over heels in love with olive oil.  I swear he’d do anything for that stuff, but I think we could both benefit from cutting most of that out of our diet as well.  I really just feel like I want to be as strict as possible so I’ll really know for sure how my diet is affecting me.  Going halfway isn’t my goal here.

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So I looked through the recipes and found one that I did have ingredients for: Lentil-Bulgur Pilaf.  It’s a simple recipe and, like all the recipes in the book, doesn’t call for any salt.  The rule is that I’m not going to make the recipes with salt, but if we need to add some after it’s on our plates, that’s fine.  Hopefully that will help us cut down and eventually even cut out?  I want to see if the flavors really do come out when salt is eliminated.

How was the dish?  It was good.  Not earth-shattering, but good.  If I made it again, I might add more cumin.  We love cumin.  🙂  I’m going to post a picture of each recipe I make.  We’re also going to rate each dish according to taste.

Here’s the rating scale:

1-awful (blech, don’t ever want to eat it again)

3-acceptable (filled my tummy, but probably won’t ask for it again)

5-good (yes, I want it again)

7-very good (definitely want it again!)

10-excellent! (want to eat it all the time!)

My husband and I both rated Lentil-Bulgur Pilaf a 5

My Life in Food

Just four months ago I was eating cheesecake and lasagna at my wedding and inhaling chocolate and anything with sugar in it like there was no tomorrow, and today I’m considering making recipes without salt?!  What happened here??

I should back up, though.  My food history started before I was born when the concept of healthy eating was first introduced to my parents.  I was raised vegetarian, mostly vegan too, but I remember eating the fresh eggs from our chickens on the farm and we must have had cheese at least every once in awhile because Saturday was always pizza night.  🙂  Sometime during my junior year of high school I suddenly decided to make a few radical changes to my diet.  I still don’t know what possessed me at the time, but I’d noticed that chocolate gave me a headache, so I decided to just stop eating it.  I also decided that I was going to become a vegan.  I’m not sure whether this surprised my parents much or not, but they pretty much followed suit.  Unlike them, however, I’ve fallen off that wagon more times than I can count.  My first college boyfriend was decidedly not vegan.  In fact, he was a meat-eater (gasp!).  That, along with the fact that the cafeteria’s vegan fare was usually less than palatable, soon brought an end to my veganism.  Actually, if I’m being totally honest, I missed yogurt like crazy and that was pretty much what did me in…

For the rest of college and after college and then during graduate school, my diet was horrible.  Not only was I eating just about anything (except meat- I didn’t developed a taste for it growing up so I never missed it), but I was eating it at crazy times and in crazy quantities- sometimes I’d eat until I was ready to pop and sometimes I’d get so busy with life that I’d hardly eat at all.  I have a super high metabolism, so I’ve never had problems with my weight.  This is probably almost a bad thing because I never had losing weight as a motivation to eat healthy.  Food has such an impact on your life and body, though, and I always knew this even when I wasn’t acting on it.

I remember one summer a few years ago when I was trying to gain a few pounds.  This is actually not easy for me and very frustrating because almost everyone else in the world is  trying to lose weight.  It’s difficult to find both sympathy and good advice.  Anyway, I kept a food journal that summer and my goal was to eat 2500 calories a day.  My husband just saw a few of those journal entries the other day and it was pretty embarrassing.  Cottage cheese and ice cream for dinner??  Yeah, to some people it probably sounds like a dream come true (ok ok, it is for my taste buds as well and I think I’m even starting to drool on my computer), but I think we all know it’s not nutritious.

About a year and a half ago, my two best friends and I decided to commit to a diet of strictly whole foods for one week.  We all lived together in a small apartment and shared a tiny tiny kitchen.  I proudly stuck to the diet for the entire week and felt so good that I continued to eat that way for awhile.  Eventually, however, I lost my motivation and slid back into old habits.  This time, however, I had seen some significant changes in my health and I couldn’t get the concept of healthy eating out of my mind.  My favorite food is ice cream and I could eat chocolate all day long, but some pelvic pains that had been bothering me for 5 years had subsided almost completely while I’d been eating whole/non-processed foods, and that really got my attention.  The benefits didn’t seem to come when I only halfway followed the diet, however, and it seemed so difficult to maintain long-term that I got discouraged, Iguess, and eventually quit trying.

I moved to Michigan a year ago to live closer to my now-husband, and since that move my eating has improved, thanks to his support and encouragement (as well as his good eating habits).  Just this month I heard something one the radio about whole foods and for some reason it really inspired me.  I said to myself, “If that person can do it, so can you!” and I decided to really give whole foods another serious try, but for a longer period of time.  I decided 8 weeks was a good length of time to try to be really strict with myself.

That was about 20 days ago.  I can’t say that I’ve totally adhered to the standard this whole time, but I have kept trying.  Eating in restaurants is kind of a problem because it’s difficult to know what you’re really getting.  Going to other people’s houses is difficult too, because even if you know what’s in the food sometimes you don’t want to hurt their feelings by refusing to eat it.  Most people have a difficult time understanding such a strict diet.  Vegetarian- ok fine, most people know what that means.  Even vegan is a concept that people can easily get.  But when you trying to cut out processed foods completely, the majority of people in this country are at a loss to know what to feed you- lettuce??

I have come up with a couple of strategies to help myself not give up on whole foods.  The first one is this blog.  I know that it would be embarrassing to get on here and have to say, “Yeah, I ate cheesy lasagna last night”.  I know for certain that I’ll have some confessions at least, but I’m hoping it will deter me at least somewhat.  The other strategy involves the book “The RAVE Diet & Lifestyle”.  This book has about 215 recipes in the back and I’ve decided to make all of them before my birthday in August.  August 13, to be exact.  I will pretty much have to make one every day, or maybe two.  I might slip up in between meals, but as long as I’m feverishly trying new whole foods recipes I figure that I won’t have a lot of time (or tummy room) to sneak the junk I crave.  Hopefully by the time I’m done my body and sense will have adjusted to the new way of eating and I will have made a permanent change.  If my pelvic pain disappears that will be absolutely wonderful, but I know there are many hidden affects of diet that should motivate me to feed my body good things anyway.