The Vegan diet is one of the most restrictive diets out there, yet you’ll never hear a Vegan complain about it.
They’ll never sit across the table sulking jealously over your meal.
They won’t post how hard done by they are on social media.
They don’t say things like, “that looks good, I wish I could eat it”.
They don’t do any of these things because they have a reason for eating the way they do. They believe eating animal products is wrong, gross, and/or unhealthy. They’d rather starve than eat a steak and don’t feel like they are missing out on anything. In fact, most think that omnivorous non-Vegans are the ones missing out.
I don’t necessarily agree with the Vegan diet, but I do think we can learn a lot from them. When it comes to eating, we should all be as strong willed and confident in our food choices.
I always say the moment you go from “I can’t eat that” to “I don’t eat that” is a major turning point.
When someone decides to go Vegan, this is essentially what they’re doing. They have decided, for whatever reason, that they don’t want to eat animal products. Not that they can’t eat them, but that they don’t eat them.
I know this from personal experience. When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I couldn’t believe all the things I now couldn’t eat. Bread, pasta, and pizza made up the majority of my diet and I felt lost. I kept focusing on all the things I couldn’t eat and always felt like I was missing out. Because of this, I “cheated” and ate gluten once in a while. It didn’t take long before I realized that when I ate gluten I felt terrible and wished I hadn’t.
And that’s when the transition happened. I no longer couldn’t eat gluten, I chose not to eat it.
Taking ownership of that decision made a world of difference.
Seeing people eat cake, cookies, pasta, pizza, and everything else didn’t bother me anymore. Sure, the pizza looked good, but I knew what would happen if I ate it.
Almost ten years later and I haven’t felt sorry for myself since that turning point.
And yes, I realize it’s different. Avoiding certain foods is much easier when you have an almost immediate negative reaction. However, I have taken this lesson and applied it to all food choices.
Nowadays I could walk into any grocery store and fill my basket with gluten free versions of all the foods I used to eat, but I don’t. Years of research and learning has shown me how damaging certain foods can be when eaten in excess. So I don’t eat them often.
Not because I can’t eat them, but because I don’t eat them.
Do I get tempted sometimes? Of course. But when I do, I reassure myself that I’m making the right choice. I tell myself I’m an athlete and athletes don’t eat like that. Or I remind myself that I am trying to be a healthy role model for my kids, and healthy role models don’t eat like that.
Simply changing “I can’t” to “I don’t” does wonders.
When you do things this way, it doesn’t take any willpower or self control. You’re eating exactly what you want. Just like a vegan.
If you feel you want something and deprive yourself of it, you’re destined for failure. But if you take a minute to think about what you really want it makes the decision much easier.
What do you want more, a daily soda pop or a healthy, ripped body?
“Want” is powerful. If we want something we don’t have, we feel like we’re missing out. Like our lives are not complete and they won’t be until we get whatever it is we want.
My favorite quote on wanting comes from Ryan Holiday during an episode of the Tim Ferris Podcast:
“There are two ways to have everything you want – increase the things you have, or decrease the things you want.”
– Ryan Holiday
It really is that simple.
The best way to have everything you want is to want less. And the best way to eat whatever you want and still reach your health and fitness goals, is to want healthy foods. You must replace the feeling of missing out on certain foods with an even stronger desire to eat healthy ones. You need to want fruits and vegetables more than you want junk food.
And once you do, nothing will stand in your way.