In general, I’m a pretty healthy eater. I typically prefer whole foods and produce to packaged goods and meat. However, I also have a notorious savory tooth (as opposed to a sweet tooth).
Most mornings, I wake up and eat a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and down a few glasses of water before my workout. On long run days, I’ll throw a banana in there. When I come home, I make breakfast part deux, which is almost always a few slices of turkey bacon, iced coffee with 2% milk and sometimes an egg.
Thursday was a little different. My alarm went off, and I couldn’t pry myself out of bed for the life of me, despite going to bed relatively early. So, I let myself sleep in, which really didn’t help much. I made it to the gym and pounded out my 3 miles, as prescribed by my training schedule. It was a good run. I felt strong and fast.
When I got home, something was different. I just wasn’t hungry. At all. So, instead of my usual routine of a protein-laden second breakfast, I just had my coffee and packed extra food to take to work, anticipating that I’d be really hungry later.
When my dinner break rolled around, I took out my food and realized that not a single thing I had packed seemed appetizing to me. The items I had were all things that I really like to eat, maybe even love. But for some reason, nothing tasted good or satisfied my hunger.
I ate a yogurt and gave up on dinner. I was dragging, hard. Like, practically falling asleep at my desk.
An hour or so later, I realized I really, really wanted some chicken nuggets and fries from McDonald’s. I didn’t just want them; I felt like I needed them. Not exactly the healthiest choice.
While I was recovering from surgery, my BFF introduced me to Bravo’s various Real Housewives shows. I’ve become a big fan of the NYC version, and through that, a fan of Bethenney Frankel. I’ve been reading her book Naturally Thin, and although the advice contained within is hardly new, it is helpful. Something that she stresses throughout the book is that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of foods that you truly enjoy just because they’ve been labeled as being “bad.” However, that doesn’t mean that you can eat as much of it as you want, either. You have to listen to your body, give it what it wants, and pay attention so that you don’t overdo it. “You can have it all, just not all at once,” she says.
So, when my craving for McDonald’s hit me like a ton of bricks, I stopped and assessed my situation. Was I really hungry? Yes. What had I eaten so far that day? Low-fat, low-sodium whole foods with very little protein. Would McDonald’s really meet my needs at the moment? Absolutely.
My body was craving fat and protein, specifically those chicken nuggets. However, instead of going all out and getting the 10-pack with a large order of fries, I opted to get the small Happy Meal. Not the 6-pack with medium fries. Just the small. It satisfied my craving and fulfilled my needs for heartier calories, but I didn’t feel like garbage after eating it because I hadn’t overeaten.
In fact, I felt energized and ready to get on with my evening.
Giving your body what it really needs doesn’t always mean choosing the salad over the steak, or in my case, fried bits of processed chicken. Assess your craving and try to figure out why you’re having it. If it’s because you need those nutrients, indulge it — in moderation.