09/07/2014 06:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Quit Turning Your Food Rules Up to 11

You're in the car. Let's say you're heading out on a road trip. You've got your snacks, you've got your dog, you've got your beaded seat cover. Now you just need music.

You pop in your favorite CD (why yes, I am stuck in 1997, thank you for asking!) and crank up the tunes. But, whoa! That is way too loud. To fix it you turn the volume all the way down to zero. Now you can't hear it. What's the deal? You turn it all the way back up to 11. Oh my gosh, ouch, your ears are bleeding! You turn it back to zero. WTF? Why can't you hear it? You turn it all the way back up. AHHHH! This is not working! It's either so loud that you can't enjoy it or it's off completely and you can't even hear it!

This sounds crazy, right? Obviously the volume on that Pearl Jam CD needs to be somewhere in the middle, right? Maybe it's low when you're having a convo with your dog, maybe it's up higher when you're on a lonely stretch of highway and want to rock out. But it's definitely not all the way down or all the way up when you're trying to listen to it and enjoy it, right?

Then why do you keep doing the exact same thing with yo' crazy a$$ food rules??

You have decided you need to change yourself, so you go on a diet. You have decided you will eat twigs, berries, bay leaves, and non-fat cheese. And you will not exceed 1,214 calories per day. Or 1,527. Or whatever.

This, clearly, does not work. The food you are eating is not enough (or even actual food, in some cases), it is not meeting your mental or physical needs, and it's absolutely unsustainable. You've got the volume at zero.

Once you realize this is not working at all, you eat, gasp, full-fat cheese. And an apple. With peanut butter. And then you decide to eat that leftover takeout in the fridge, even though you have no idea what it is (was). Then you eat the stale Snackwells from the last time you were on a diet (do they even make those anymore? Told you I'm stuck in 1997). Those were gross, and you need some real chocolate, so now you eat a candy bar or two. And then some chips, because, duh, after you eat something sweet you need something salty. Then you fall down on the couch, clutching your stomach, promising yourself you will never overeat again. You've now got the volume TURNED ALL THE WAY UP.

The next day you tell yourself you've been very, very bad. That twig and berries diet didn't cut it, but maybe if you become a level five vegan things will work better for you. Annnnnd now you've turned the volume back to zero.

You know what happens next, right? And will happen over and over again? You're just gonna go back and forth and back and forth until you take your crazy pants off.


What you need is a middle ground. It's really okay to have a green smoothie for breakfast but at lunch eat a giant meat sandwich. Or once in a while you can have a piece of cheesecake for dinner and still be totally okay with it and still love yourself. You don't have to go back and forth between limiting entire food groups and eating the entire contents of your fridge.

Leave behind the all or nothing food rules. Life is one road trip that you want to enjoy. (Too much?)