In 1975, I was born in a little town in Tennessee called Union City.
My father was a Dutch immigrant and my mother was also a native Tennessean who was born in a town even smaller than my hometown.
And I think about my upbringing with all of the foods associated with those places and what my diet was influenced by early on.
From my father’s side of both Dutch and German influence: lots of potatoes, breads, pork and cheese.
From my mother’s Southern side: fried foods (fries, catfish, hush puppies, tater tots), butter, bar-b-que, pork (sausage, country ham, pork rinds), pecan pie, biscuits and gravy.
And when I think further about the foods that make me feel closest to “home”, it would be all of these foods. The foods that give me comfort, the foods that make me feel like I’m with family.
And I love that feeling.
I would argue that any combination of the foods listed above would be among my very, very favorite.
But let’s be honest: is there anyone who’s going to associate biscuits and gravy with a healthy diet?
Not a chance.
Which is why I find it puzzling that so many people are unwilling to step away slightly from their heritage to get their food in the place they want it to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to disassociate with being Italian simply because you can’t control your pasta intake.
But just because you’re Italian, also doesn’t mean that cuisine should be the mainstay if you need to get your eating in order.
I love pasta through and through but it is not a food I can easily control. I can eat massive quantities of it before my body ever registers that I might be full.
And the same goes for all of my favorite foods too.
When I go back down to my hometown, I know it’s going to be a fiasco of pure gluttony. I mentally prepare it and I face the music over it. I know that it will be a couple of days of my favorite foods just the way I have always loved them and I don’t deprive myself.
But that isn’t to say I don’t have consequences.
I get bloated. I feel lethargic. I can’t seem to get in enough water to flush my system out. It’s just one of those situations where once or twice a year I loosen my belt and prepare for all of those foods I don’t normally eat.
Where I find my clients getting in trouble with this is that it’s not a once or twice a year conversation. It’s more like a 3 or 4 or more times a week conversation. It’s really hard to see weight loss progress when your “heritage” foods that you can’t moderate successfully become the cornerstone of your diet plan.
Yes, in a perfect world, we could moderate these foods. As much as I love a good fried catfish filet, I am 100% certain that I could fit it into my calorie plan if I absolutely had to have it more frequently. But there are certain foods that I want to feel as if they are a reward to eat. Something that I can’t get every day or I can’t get them in the circumstances to make them feel special (like sporadic family gatherings.)
And it doesn’t make me less of a Southern boy or have less pride in my Dutch heritage because I don’t indulge at every possible opportunity. I just know my limits so I don’t test them.
If you’re struggling with diet success and you’re letting your heritage stand in your way, you may need to take a couple of steps back and determine HOW you’re going to make what you want to eat fit into the grand scheme of your plans.
If you’re like me, those special foods can come at more infrequent times. No guilt included.
Below is a picture of the Biscuit, who at the ripe age of 13 months old, can eat anything he damn well pleases and not gain an ounce. I remember those days.
“We Make Great People Greater”