I am often asked how I am able to resist eating animal foods, as well as generally avoiding most junk food. After all, we’re surrounded by them. Some former vegans tell me they could resist no more and had to eat a beef hamburger. And after years of being vegan it tasted amazing, they claim.
My “secret” is that the idea of considering animals as food fills me with disgust. Or rather, it an extreme aversion. In fact, this inclination goes well back to my childhood, leading up to my going vegetarian in my teens. I see a piece of meat and all I can think of is the poor animal getting slaughtered so it could be on someone’s dinner plate. To try to relate to how I feel, just imagine eating human flesh.
My sweet tooth is pretty erratic, and it tends to be satisfied with fresh fruit or fruit juice(though as a child I ate a ton of candy, junk, and various desserts). I very rarely eat cakes, cookies or desserts these days, though I used to eat a lot of vegan oatmeal cookies and vegan “cheese” cake, but for some reason I don’t crave them as much as I used to. Ironically, it seems the more I exercise, the less I crave unhealthy sugary food. And it seems an awful lot of sweets and desserts taste “too sweet” for me these days, almost to the point that they taste kind of nasty.
I also tend to get sick of things I eat a lot of after a while. This happens sometimes with pasta, in particular wheat pasta. I had a pumpkin/squash seed addiction some years back, yet now I am sick of them. I may be able to eat a few if I save some of the seeds from a baked squash since I hate throwing them away, but that’s about it. I am kind of neutral on oatmeal cookies, or most vegan cakes and desserts. Perhaps if some were available to me after a very long run when my sweet tooth is usually more pronounced I would devour some, but this is never the case these days. I am allergic to chocolate so I never eat anything with chocolate in it.
Besides this I normally don’t have a very big appetite. Sometimes if I am obsessed with an important project I may even skip lunch, or eat a small one consisting of just some of the nuts or dried fruit I carry with me everywhere.
Being obsessed with health also makes it easy for me to avoid certain foods. Not wanting to gain weight, which would slow me down as a runner, and not wanting to increase my risk factors for disease also influence my eating choices.
There isn’t a whole lot of advice in this post I admit. This is just the way my body works. Everyone has to personalize their own path to healthy living, though it helps to know that cravings do pass, especially if you distract yourself. Or you can drink a lot of water to help you feel full.
Most importantly, I believe the main reason so many people who exercise regularly fail to lose weight is that they use exercise as carte blanche to eat whatever they want. This approach will fail because if you are still consuming more calories than you expend while exercising, you will gain or maintain your weight rather than lose.
Remember that cravings pass. Eating healthy foods can help displace unhealthy foods. You may even end up reprogramming your brain so that very sweet desserts taste “icky” rather than delicious, and so that fresh fruits and salads become more appealing.