It’s the first day of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah during which it is customary to celebrate by eating fried foods primarily doughnuts and latkes. A latke can be baked or regarded as healthy as it is a real food, meal or side dish even when fried and actually not really very healthy. But doughnuts…. I think everyone will agree just aren’t healthy. It’s a piece of dough, deep fried, glazed with sugar or icing, and often filled with jam or custard. Any “healthy” version of a doughnut, most probably marketed as gluten free and fat free with no added sugar, really won’t taste like a doughnut and if it does, it is probably just as unhealthy as a regular doughnut. So most trainers, nutritionists, health coaches, and die hard fitness enthusiasts will tell you to just stay away. Don’t even consider eating the doughnut.
I’m going to be controversial and tell you – go ahead, have a doughnut or two, but make it a conscious decision. To clarify, I’m not saying you must have a doughnut and I’m definitely not saying you should go crazy and stuff your face with doughnuts. If you don’t feel the urge for it, simply don’t eat it. I’m saying if you want a doughnut feel free to have one, but be comfortable with your decision.
You see, during my health and fitness journey and experience – and I see it with others living healthy and fit as well – I realized that we build coping and defensive mechanisms to avoid complications and making the wrong decisions. For example, we are afraid that one doughnut will turn into ten doughnuts or simply open the floodgates to binge eating. Often, breaking healthy eating habits for one small piece of pie will turn into a pint of ice cream, cake, chocolate or whatever else is enjoyable and unhealthy. So we make the extremely tough decision to stay away from it altogether and to not even enjoy one of anything.
One bite of an unhealthy food or doughnut, no matter how small, also has a saddening effect. We take the bite and that is all we think about for the next few hours. Why did I do it? Was it really necessary? It may feel like a moment of weakness by giving in to a desire that we work so hard to keep in check and no one likes to feel weak.
One may even feel that this one bite will destroy an entire week of hard work, self control, and good exercising. I agree that a few doughnuts in one day will do just that. But one doughnut a week or even every few days (remember the festival lasts for eight days) will not have that much of an affect on all the hard work. If it does have an effect, it would really be minimal, far less than we perceive. These feelings and mechanisms stop us from enjoying the one bite that we can and really desire to enjoy. In essence, it stops us from enjoying certain aspects of life, our lives.
There was a time when I would find it more difficult to enjoy and I mean really enjoy, not just fleetingly, the doughnut than control myself all together. Everything I believed would push me away from having the doughnut altogether. Making it a conscious decision changed everything. I made the decision. I make the decision to only eat one and I’m okay with it, I don’t regret it because I wanted it and I really enjoyed it. It’s not even a matter of weakness. Weakness would be to just say **** it and give in which is also what opens the floodgates for binge eating. Making it a conscious decision is simply understanding that it’s your decision, was earned and it’s okay to break your rules not out of weakness, rather out of self empowerment and control. If anything, I will go as far as to say that it shows a stronger self control to have one and not have another than to not have any at all. If it helps, you can simply eat the doughnut as one of your cheat snacks.
This is my doughnut challenge. Do you accept this controversial challenge?
Stay tuned for tips that may help you with this challenge….