Want versus need. What really, truly drives our decisions? Do we listen to what our bodies actually require rather than answer our strong, current desires each time we sit down for a meal? Is it a balancing act of sorts? As I reach the third week mark of my vegan diet, my cravings have been on the forefront of my mind, consuming any other thoughts of nutrition and threatening to drown out all the reasons why I chose to follow a vegan diet in the first place.
My boyfriend noticed my struggling and poignantly reminded me of the true, little importance that taste-based food choices have in the long-term and towards your happiness. He simply asked me if I could remember what we had to eat for dinner three nights ago and my mind drew a complete blank and I couldn’t recall. Which was astonishing because I’ve never craved, discussed, blogged, and thought about food as much as I am now. In the moment, you think how you absolutely must indulge and order those fries, buy that candy in the grocery store, and have that frozen pizza in your fridge instead of preparing a salad. Taste is your main focus. Yet, as my boyfriend has found, nine times out of ten, if you ask anyone, they cannot tell you what they had to eat for dinner three nights ago. Some time after I remembered, when I really thought it out, but his point really resonated with me; how taste is completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
That discovery gave me pause and I hope will create a shift in my thinking. Having worked as a waitress for a number of years, I am far too used to the atmosphere of a restaurant where taste is absolutely everything, customers come to indulge and gluttony doesn’t exist. I hope that’s what’s happened to me. Trapped too long in the restaurant world, warping my way of thinking temporarily. How am I so wrapped up in the present, pursuing mere taste and my wants time and time again? Allowing this inner child/brat in my head, without any regard for health, win out. In those times of temptation when I give in, I tell myself it’s just a little treat and all in moderation, as long as I’m not having this every day… maybe there’s still some truth to that, but I’m so focused on taste.
Hopefully there’s an ideal middle ground where you can have both, taste and health. I’m happily discovering it really is possible and proven to be so with the nutritious and delicious vegan cooking my boyfriend creates every day and undoubtedly surprises my taste buds with as well. There have been some things, such as juicing, that I have had trouble mustering though, even with hearing all the health benefits. Which leaves me contemplating the ultimate dilemma; how do I rise above and overcome my obsession with taste? Perhaps I have a very unhealthy relationship to food. I wonder if everyone faces this same battle, with some of us having stronger self-discipline than others, silencing their urges.
I suppose it boils down to a mental game to be won then. A test of determination. And in that case I must fight, every day, until the battle is so familiar to me that I hardly notice it, until it’s not a struggle any longer. I must resist my cravings that have built up, cutting off their power to take hold and control me. I cannot allow my heightened attention to food influence my desires and goal to maintain a healthy vegan diet. I do not wish to be at the mercy of my cravings. My problem has been that I’m too focused on what I cannot eat, instead of concentrating on all the new food possibilities that’s opened up to me since becoming vegan. I must let it go, recognize what is truly driving these unwanted urges and remember that these cravings feel and seem more important than they actually are. What’s more important to me is leading a healthy, happy life and that can easily start with diet.
Taste is fleeting, too easy to give into, allows you effortlessly to think solely on pleasure, living in the present and not the future. Health is forever. Or in a case where you’re not thinking about health and nutrition, health isn’t forever at all. Health will be your doom and take your life sooner. Life and health are forever entwined. When you are in a hospital bed with death on the horizon, you won’t be applauding yourself for indulging all your life and you still won’t remember what you had three nights ago for dinner. Health and every food choice you make right now, add up, it is all your future stands on; it’s the entirety of your life. Taste, therefore, no matter how hard it is, must be secondary to health. Like the Rolling Stones’ song lyrics state,
“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”