The Forbidden Fruit

September 7, 2016

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The orchard was a real life Garden of Eden with soft grass paths meandering through apple trees that covered the distant, rolling hills. The intoxicating scent of sun-warmed apples filled the crisp air. Mmmm!

Apple picking in Vermont was a cherished family tradition. We did it every fall, as far back as I can remember. long as I can remember. I loved everything about it – the bountiful trees with heavy, drooping branches that generously offered us low hanging fruit, the ripe red apples that dropped right into our hands, and brown paper bags filled until they spilled over.

Everyone was taking big, juicy bites.

Everyone but me.

You see, I had a lifetime pass for the diet roller coaster, and my diet du jour was the no-carbs diet, based on the “carbs are evil and make you fat” mindset.

This diet had simple rules: consume lots of protein and fat, absolutely no fruit and only the teensiest amount of vegetables. In this wildly popular diet, eating a bacon and cheese beef burger with a side of bacon is a good meal option. This seemed perfectly reasonable to my diet-addled brain. And the diet guaranteed that I’d lose 14 -21 pounds in two weeks. Losing a bunch of weight fast meant everything. So, there would be no apples for Eve (I mean me) because apples are full of evil carbs…

My mouth watered as I watched my double fisted family sink their teeth into crisp apples, but my internal diet dogma enforcer clamped down hard. When my Dad said, “Oh come on! It’s an apple, for chrissake! Apples don’t make you fat. You’re being ridiculous,” it only steeled me against his coaxing.

Another one of my internal diet enforcers whispered how righteous and virtuous I was in my apple-deprivation (given the staggering temptation), and my ironclad will power fed in to this false superiority. And so my afternoon of apple restriction went off without a hitch, and I left the Garden of Eden with my head high, chest puffed out, feeling like a carb-conqueror.

3820761_hiresBut late that evening the pendulum swung from extreme deprivation to frenzied indulgence…

Alone in the cold, dark garage where the apples were stored, I bit into the forbidden fruit. Before I knew it I had devoured three whole apples, barely chewing, without even tasting the sinful sweetness.

I gave in to temptation and fell from dieting grace. And the apple was my demise.

There was no pleasure for me in those devoured apples, only a night ravaged by guilt and shame with the all too familiar chorus, “You are destined to be fat forever” playing in my head. Yet, no matter how hard my inner diet enforcers sneered, shamed and cajoled me over the following days, they couldn’t drag me back on the diet roller coaster track.

My body craved the fruits of the season, like roasted acorn squash, carrots and turnips tossed in olive oil and salt. And warm, spicy apple cider with a freshly baked crueler. And, I was driven like a mad chef to cook up a cauldron of vegetable soup served in crusty bread bowls topped with melting parmesan cheese. My soul ached for fresh, seasonal food – any food that wasn’t beef with a side of bacon.

I had careened into a dieting dead-end.

Looking back, this apple incident was a profound initiation for me into Intuitive Eating, an evidence-based process that unleashes the shackles of dieting (which can only lead to deprivation, rebellion, and rebound weight gain). Intuitive Eating focuses on nurturing your body rather than starving it and learning to trust your body and its signals. To end food lust:

Make Peace with Food.

The third principle of Intuitive Eating states:

“Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.”

Ditching diet dogma and giving yourself unconditional permission to eat isn’t always easy since we are culturally conditioned to believe that deprivation and restriction are essential to the never-ending quest of being good enough and having a good enough body. It is particularly difficult if you’ve spent decades entrenched in diet mentality. But, these are key steps toward forever ending your struggle with food, weight and body image.

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So, go ahead. Eat your “forbidden fruit” – whatever it is. Eat it boldly in the light of day, in the presence of others – savor the sweetness. See how good the fall from dieting grace can feel!

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