It seems to be such a massive part of ‘diet culture’ that it is healthy to deny yourself certain foods. It is NOT! Firstly, denying yourself certain foods is not a healthy mindset to have, but it is also not healthy for your body. There are diets which deny you of fats (these are healthy too!), those which deny you sugar (this is near impossible!), but the most prevalent diet is that which denies you carbs! How can this be a) sustainable, but b) healthy? I'm on the don't deny diet, I don't deny myself anything I like!
Carbs are so important to us all, but even more so to us athletes; they act as our main source of energy. Carbohydrates improve athletic performance by delaying fatigue and allowing us to train harder for longer, they also aid brain function, and running requires more of this than you think! Without carbs, we just wouldn’t have the energy we need to be able to train hard for long periods of time, or simply complete easy runs. I just don’t understand why you would deny yourself of this wonderful food group, especially if you are expending as much energy as we do through training.
There are lots of reasons why denying yourself certain foods isn’t healthy. If you purposefully deny yourself certain foods, this will result in cravings. Cravings then only lead to one thing, bingeing. Without realising what you are doing you will find yourself demolishing two packets of biscuits because you denied yourself a biscuit every time you fancied one with your cup of coffee. Eating everything in moderation avoids this massive craving for something. I was a massive culprit in the past for denying myself any foods I deemed ‘bad’. These foods don’t exist, they are simply an idea we have constructed in our minds. I would deny myself yogurt, convinced because it was dairy it was bad for me. This is not true!! We need dairy in our diet, it is vital to our bone development and maintenance. I love yogurt now!! If I find myself purposely denying myself certain foods I genuinely do want, I tell myself to snap out of it immediately, and I eat that food. It is so important not to listen to the irrational thoughts you may find your head telling you. If you want it, eat it! Don’t deny yourself of it, as eventually you will break!
Cravings aren’t however just a weakness in our will power. Cravings are genuinely our body’s way of telling us they need something. By denying yourself certain foods, you are denying yourself vital nutrients. If you find yourself craving certain foods, it can be because your body needs a specific nutrient. I was guilty of denying myself any sort of food that contained too much sugar, or sugar that wasn’t naturally occurring in food, for example fruit. If I felt as though I had low sugar levels, I would eat an apple. Whilst this is ok for those of you who have a massive sweet tooth and are trying to reduce the amount of high-sugar convenience foods you eat, for someone who ate none, this was not the best option. Those headrushes and blackouts when standing up, were my body’s way of telling me I needed something with a solid amount of sugar. The more I ignored it, the more detrimental it became to my health. Denial isn’t healthy!
It is imperative to remember that ‘everything in moderation’ really is the right approach to have. We were never meant to deny ourselves of certain foods, both for our physical and mental wellbeing. Carbs aren’t going to hurt you if you eat them at every meal (I always do!) and chocolate isn’t going to kill you. Eat everything, but in moderation. Give your body everything it needs, and you won’t be damaging it. I always make sure I eat everything in moderation and give my body all the nutrients it needs.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!