Two sides of me are dueling right now—one side that wants to go HCRV, and one that does not. The issue is, obviously, giving up my favorite cooked foods. The scientific literature has convinced me, except for a few key points, so that's not the issue. The issue is the cravings I'm experiencing on this diet, and the inevitable giving into these cravings.
What happens is that I'm raw all day, I'm doing well, then it hits: a craving. Sometimes it's for anything I'm not allowed to have, sometimes it's for something crunchy and/or salty, and sometimes a specific food sounds good, like fried rice or something. But the responsible adult in me yells out, "You're not allowed to have that! Don't even consider it!" But then the spoiled brat in me grumbles, and eventually it gets louder. I think what happens is my inner brat is thinking, "I want peanut butter! I'm an adult, why can't I just have some f****** peanut butter? I should be able to eat whatever I want. No one tells me what I can or can't eat. I want curry, so I'm going to eat some f***** curry because I can."
I've discovered that I HATE restriction. Sometimes I genuinely want bad foods, but oftentimes I want to eat cooked food just for the heck of it. To rebel. Because restriction makes me feel frustrated. That's why I failed banana island, because I hated being told that I could only have bananas when I wanted something else ("You won't get sick of bananas" COMPLETE AND UTTER LIE). Contrary to what people said about emotional healing and better moods, I experienced the opposite on banana island. I was more cranky and did not look forward to my banana meals. I got snippy with people, and I felt like destroying my pile of bananas with a baseball bat to vent my anger. "Why can't I just eat what I want to eat? This is stupid," I thought. Keep in mind I love bananas and they are my favorite fruit. But Jesus, I don't want to eat them all the time! I want variety.
I think I know a few underlying reasons for my cravings, as well as some reasons for my resistance to transitioning to HCRV for good.
1. Comfort and self-care. I'm an emotional eater. I know that. One of the ways I'm an emotional eater is that I like to treat myself to my favorite meals if I've had a rough day, or I feel like I just need to give myself something. There's this one Indian restaurant that I love because the staff is so friendly and the environment is so serene, not to mention the food is godly delicious (their yellow lentil dhal... oh man). I enjoy myself a lot there, so that's why I like going. But on HCRV I'll have to give up that restaurant, as well as my favorite sushi place and my favorite place for salads. I can't have tea anymore either, which is something that I drink when I want to relax. No more hot chocolate either, which I drink for comfort. I'll have to stay "good" all the time; no more treats. That's merely one form of deprivation I experience.
2. Love of cooking/social. I love to cook. It's one of my favorite activities and modes of expression. Obviously, cooking does not fit into the HCRV lifestyle. No more making elaborate meals for holidays, no more baking with friends, no more exploring different tastes. No more experimenting with different cuisines or exotic ingredients. No more of my favorite ingredients: chocolate, matcha green tea powder, peanut butter, beans and lentils, cruciferous vegetables, and no more cooked food at all. My close friend from up north is coming down to visit me soon, and as we are also cooking partners (cooking is our favorite thing to do together), we were planning all sorts of feasts we were going to make together. We were going to have an Indian meal, an Asian meal, an Italian meal, and a meal themed off of foods flavored with tea. But now when she shows up, I'm going to have to say, "Sorry, I'm not allowed to have fun with food anymore." One of my biggest hobbies right out the window.
3. Emotions/nostalgia. I connect certain foods with certain emotions and memories. I know you're not supposed to do that and the food won't bring back the experience and blah blah blah, I get it. That still doesn't change my feelings. Why do I love rice and Asian food like sushi and tempura? Because it reminds me of the two weeks I spent in Japan, which were the best two weeks of my life. Why do I like buttered noodles? Because it was my late mother's staple (she didn't really "cook", more like heated food up, lol). Why do I like pop such as root beer and grape drank? Because it's almost like a ceremonial drink for me, when I reunite with friends, that's what we drink. Aren't I allowed to enjoy food? Come on! If I eat only raw fruits and leafy greens, there's going to be no "treat" food, nothing that makes an occasion special. Every meal will be a ho hum affair. It sucks.
4. Frustration. It all started 3 years ago when I went vegan for ethical reasons. That actually went over quite smoothly. I had my fake meats and cheeses. I was proud that I could restrict myself like that and stick to it. But then I started getting into healthy eating, and one by one, I had to omit more ingredients from my diet: first processed foods, then non-raw nuts, then gluten, then sugar, then vegetable oils. Every time, I've resisted the new restriction, but I did it. Gluten and sugar in particular were monumental challenges for me, but I recently accomplished a gluten and sugar free diet. I was also limiting grains of any kind. So my diet was super strict: only fruits and vegetables, the only oils were cold-pressed olive, coconut and flax oils, raw nuts and seeds only, legumes, and the occasional grain. I felt accomplished. But THEN I read 80/10/10 and I learn that I'm STILL not done. When does it end? How much do I have to give up? Will my diet never be good enough? After all this, I've had lapses where I just gave up completely and ate whatever because I didn't want to think of all the additional changes I have to make now. It's frustrating.
The worst part is that I thought I was better than this. Stronger. I'm seriously letting food get the better of me? I cannot defeat food? Seriously. FOOD is my biggest obstacle in life. Are you kidding me? After all I've been through, the crazy crap that I've moved past, the emotional pain I've dealt with on my own, I can't get over some stupid cravings? I got over my depression, for crying out loud, but I can't fix my diet yet. I had an alcoholic mom, lost her when I was 13, lived with an abusive step-dad, ran away from my secure home one year ago and moved across the country to make my way through life on my own. I have a car, a job, and ambitions. I'm going to school. I've made it, I'm going somewhere. I proved my dad wrong that I won't be a failure on my own. And this entire time I've gone it alone. I haven't relied on anyone. In this regard, I am strong. I haven't let my past hold me back, and I haven't needed anyone else.
Everyone else thinks I'm strong, too. Self-sufficient, tough, independent Mia. That's how they see me. But it's not true, apparently, because I can't handle merely changing what I put in my mouth. This. Is. Humiliating. I'm the first person my circle goes to if they have questions about nutrition because I'm the expert. I'm studying it in school and I've researched it for years, ever since I went vegan. I'm the healthy one. Someone offers me cake, and my friends and family say, "Oh, Mia doesn't eat wheat or sugar." And they smile at me admiringly, silently congratulating me on my self-control. Meanwhile, I'm inwardly laughing because it is a lie. I can't control myself. I am not healthy. I have a belly I hide by sucking it in and wearing baggy shirts. Healthy, active, strong, successful, independent Mia! Yeah right!
Who knows, maybe it's because of all the emotional crap I've built up that I have issues with food. Maybe my suppressed emotions manifest themselves through cravings. So I'm going to have to go deeper and ask myself the underlying cause of my cravings if I want to stop them.
People talk like it's so simple. "Just eat only raw fruit and leafy greens, and plenty of them." Hell no, it's not that simple. We're talking about turning my life upside down, digging out my deeply buried feelings with a rusty trowel, abandoning the lifestyle I've lived for 19 years. This is serious s*** right now. I'm only half joking with the melodrama.
So here I am, eating white rice flavored with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Why? Because I can. Because rice is nostalgic for me. Because I want something savory and not more effing fruit. Because why not.
There it is. I have serious problems with the way I view food. I am not emotionally strong. I am weak, hopeless, oversensitive, and undisciplined. I won't be able to make this transition without any hiccups. It is not that simple for me. So when I get lectured about being impatient with weight loss and to stop worrying about body image, I'm sorry, but I don't have the strength to not nitpick at my body yet. If I admit that I went out and got Chinese food, I'm sorry, but I'm not strong enough to defeat my cravings yet. If I am being overemotional about food and can't think rationally about it, I'm sorry, but I am not strong enough to gain emotional distance from food yet.
I still want to do the HCRV lifestyle. I'm just expressing the difficulties I'm having. I am going to read this new book, Women, Food, and Desire: Embrace Your Cravings, Make Peace with Food, and Reclaim Your Body . It sounds like it might help me with uncovering the emotional reasons behind my cravings. That will be the first step I take. I also think it will be beneficial to treat myself in other ways, like taking scented baths, reading a good book, or having a harmless cup of herbal tea. If I do that, maybe I won't want to comfort myself with food so much. I should also distract myself with stuff besides food. Not obsess over it and think about it constantly. Maybe I'll finally start writing a book, or begin an online business, or take up painting again. Anything to get my mind off of food.
Either way, I will do this. I just need time. I need to work through it. It isn't as fast as "Tomorrow I'm going to start only eating raw fruits and leafy greens for the rest of my life!"
Please be patient with me.