This post is in response to a recent email I received from a thoughtful young lady – we’ll call her Alison – who wrote the following:
“Hi Gena! I recently stumbled on your blog, and I love it! Thanks for presenting the raw diet in such an accessible way. I really liked reading your post about quitting smoking, and I was wondering, do you still crave cigarettes? What do you do when you crave them? Sometimes it seems as though your diet is so perfect from the blog, so it was kind of nice to hear that you have struggled with an addiction to something!”
Thanks, Alison, for such a great question. I’m glad that my post on quitting smoking struck a chord with you. And this is a good time for me to invite all of my readers who haven’t read my quitiversary post to please check it out: I wrote it not only to share my two cents about quitting, but to remind all of my readers that no one is perfect. Even those of us who make healthy choices for the most part have our battles.
First of all, I should say that my diet isn’t “so perfect.” It’s perfect for me, and some others; there is no such thing as “perfection” when it comes to what we eat–only what is and isn’t optimal for each of us. It’s easy to read food blogs, nutrition books, or articles and become prone to comparing yourself to others—worrying about whether you should do something another blogger does, or stop doing something another blogger doesn’t. But ladies. Stop it. I beg you. It’s wonderful to get inspired by food blogs: I love reading my fellow bloggers’ work because it so often inspires me to taste something I’ve never tried, or to try a new workout, or because it teaches me about food philosophies that are different from my own (and when you have a relatively offbeat lifestyle, which I do, it’s important to stay informed about what others are doing—especially so that you can remain in-the-know for new clients).
But inspiration or information is all that fellow food bloggers really should offer. None of us (myself included) are here to tell you what to do or to make you feel lousy about what you don’t do. As I hope my quitiversary post makes clear, we’re all human.
To answer your question, Alison: yes, I do get cravings. In fact, I crave cigarettes every single day. Sometimes all day. I have been smoke free for one year and three months, which isn’t very long, and it’s still very hard for me. In fact, I still have my “emergency pack” sitting in my desk drawer at home. (I haven’t dipped into it, and I know I won’t, yet I have a hard time throwing the damn thing out.) It’s much easier today than it was a year ago, but it’s not a piece of cake; there’s a part of me that could still easily light up, if the right triggers congealed in my life, and I have to battle that part of myself actively.
Oftentimes, a client of mine who has an addiction to a particular food (say, a certain sweet), will ask me what to do. I give lots of feedback, starting with healthy replacements, or strategies for steering clear: sipping herbal tea, breathing deeply, music, meditation, taking a walk, etc. The strategies differ based on the client. But if the food in question is undoubtedly not healthy for my client (in other words, if it’s not something I think he or she can learn to enjoy in moderation) I’ll often tell him or her the truth, which is that the best means of battling a craving is to call upon your willpower. There are things I can do to lesson my cravings for cigarettes, just as there are tricks of the trade for lessening a food addiction. But in the end, the best thing you can do is to be tough. Really tough. That’s how I manage to stay away from smoking, even when I crave it. And the reward—pride and good health—is priceless.
The battle continues, Alison! I won’t pretend it isn’t something I struggle with. But it helps to share my struggles with you all. And on that note—and so that you all know how very un-“perfect” I am—I’m sharing five other habits or tendencies that I would, in a perfect world, learn how to modify.
1) Coffee. GASP! Oh no she didn’t! Readers, are you shocked? Yes, I still drink coffee sometimes. It is not raw, and it is not good for my stomach, and it is not alkaline. But there are days when I drink it anyway, mostly because I love the taste. It happens maybe once a week. If I could make that every two weeks, or maybe once a month, I’d be way proud of myself.
2) Fitness magazines. Honestly, the advice in these bad boys is so diametrically opposed to most of what I believe about nutrition and health that I read them, more often than not, in a state of annoyance. And yet I read them still. This strikes me as not the best use of my energy: the one or two decent ab or glute routines I might happen upon do not justify the energy I waste being critical. At the least, I should modify my approach as a reader!
3) Tardiness. I am almost always five minutes late for everything. Never more: just five minutes. It’s obnoxious and self-involved, and I need to stop.
4) I take much too long to return voicemails. Seriously. Like, weeks. I hate the phone (I’m an email person, not surprisingly), and unless it’s a client, I tend to let voicemails slide. Sorry, friends! Sorry, Mom!
5) An excessive adoration of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is one of my very favorite pleasures, and since I’m not much of a dessert person, it’s my dessert of choice. And, dear readers, I sometimes overindulge. It’s good to indulge in things we love, and good to know when enough is enough. I remind myself of this when an enjoyable treat becomes mindless choco-munching.
These are just some of the habits—and let’s call them adjustable habits, rather than bad habits—that I am conscious of. I hope they remind you all that I am far from “perfect,” whatever that means!
Ladies, remember: progress, not perfection. And remember to judge your progress by standards of your own devising—not anyone else’s, and least of all mine.