09/13/2012 03:02 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2012

Why I Quit Junk Food Cold Turkey

"You're still going to die, Maureen."

A man I'm fond of said what I'm sure other people have been thinking since I gave up junk food altogether. That my healthy diet is some sort of attempt at getting around, well, death.

You know what helped me laugh off the comment? The sweetness with which it was delivered. There was no malice in the guy's voice. Only teasing and maybe even a little affection.

You know what else helped? I'm not and never have been on a crusade to get a single person to eat the way I do. I just want to share what I'm learning for those of you who want to learn more.

I once read about a guy whose big treat was one M&M a month, always on the same day of the month -- which he ate with a knife and fork. I thought it was crazy, but I couldn't get it out of my mind. It tickled my imagination.

People say, "You won't live longer eating this way. It will only feel like that." And you know what? They're... full of it. I used to say that, too -- until I tried it. I'm richly rewarded for passing up those decadent meals. I feel so much better. Why would you want to stop feeling this good? I don't.

I find so much more pleasure in the delights of my other senses, now. There's almost nothing I love more than going into a bakery and taking in the aroma. Music is a bigger treat. I've pretty much insisted any time off we take as a family involve a feast for the eyes in terms of breathtaking scenery -- which my sweethearts haven't minded one bit.

And sure, for you moderators out there, it's difficult to understand why I'd need to go to such extremes and cut out cookies and donuts and stale Cheetos altogether. Don't take my word for it. Ask recovering smokers or alcoholics. Do they exempt themselves from their healthy lifestyle when out to dinner with friends on Friday evenings? Nope. It would be their undoing. It was for me.

I may or may not live longer eating this way. That was never the point. The point was partly to see how much better my skin looked, and I'm not kidding -- though I'm probably digressing.

I might not live longer, but I feel great. That makes passing up the French fries -- and the French toast, drizzled with so much butter and syrup even the new me pauses for a moment of wistful -- so worth it.

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