I love being creative with my food. I am a food combiner and I love mixing together a lot of ingredients for one satisfying and yummy dish. In my eyes, there are no bad foods. Carbs are good, protein is good and fat is good. Brownies, muffins, bagels.. all fine in my eyes. However, if I were to eat them every day, I may be missing out on other parts of my diet and I may find it difficult (at times) to support my training/exercise routine. I think we would all agree that it is easy to overindulge in a few higher-calorie items as opposed to eating a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods. Often times, it takes a high quantity of a calorie-dense item to signal "fullness/satisfaction" compared to a high quantity of volume and nutrient dense foods like fruits and veggies.
Karel and I both enjoy reading ingredients. However, if we really want something as a treat, we aren't going pass on an item because of the nutrient fact label. If anything, it is likely that I am going to go with the "real" option (ex. real ice cream as opposed to splenda added, fat-free ice cream) rather than the heavily processed "healthier" (if that can be true??) option. A treat is on occasion, snacks are for every day. I have to admit, however, I don't crave very many processed, sugary or salty foods. Typically, I crave foods with little to no ingredients because my diet is very balanced and no food is "off-limits". By having a healthy relationship with food, I don't feel those intense cravings because I don't really have any "forbidden" foods. Certainly I emphasize and de-emphasize certain foods because of how they may affect my body, my blood sugar and my daily eating habits throughout the day but I enjoy my heart-healthy lifestyle and diet and I think that shows on a daily basis. In my opinion, it is not just about the food that you eat, when you eat and the calories that you eat but how you see your eating habits during the day and if you are fueling your body throughout the day. I also think people struggle with a healthy relationship with food because of the fear of being judged wherever you are..or perhaps, you judge yourself and you are too hard on yourself. Remember, aim for progress, not perfection. If you think it would be easier to eat healthy if you didn't work, if you didn't have kids and if you just stayed at home all day....well, that aint gonna happen...that's called life. If you are trying to wait for a non-stressful/busy day, weekend or week to "start" eating healthy, you may be stuck in an unrealistic and unmanageable way of thinking about your daily diet. Eating a balanced diet does not need to be complicated but you have to start somewhere.
Take a little time on a daily basis working on 1 part of your diet.
I recommend focusing on either breakfast, pre and post training/exercise nutrition or between meal snacks. Generally, people seeking changes in diet or performance focus on the evening food consumption but I believe it all starts with how you start your day. Those first few hours of your day are critical for how your body is going to perform throughout the day and how you are going to manage your food intake throughout the day. Telling yourself that you are "restricted" from an evening snack is likely not the cause of overeating in the evening. Perhaps by having more snacks throughout the day or adding more fat and protein to meals, can help you feel at ease with what and how much you eat during the evening hours.