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I’m on a diet and I feel guilty about it

Dieting is a bad word. We’re not supposed to deprive ourselves. Don’t deny yourself something you love if that something makes you happy. Well, I love bread. And sugar. And butter. Don’t forget the bread with the butter. And bean burritos with extra cheese. And pizza, oh my gosh, all the pizza. Yet, I’m denying myself all of it and more for 30 days.

Last year, I challenged myself to 30 days without grains, just to try it. I wanted to change my eating habits so my diet would consist of more than cereal for breakfast, pizza for lunch, pasta for dinner and cookies for dessert. And it helped. It really, really helped. I loved being in the kitchen, finding new ways to make old things and actually planning out three meals full of nutrients, fats and proteins. I was waking up in the mornings to make breakfast and starting my day for myself, rather than for the man. It felt good.

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So this year, when my cousin mentioned doing a round of Whole30 (the Paleo diet on steroids), I decided that it was time for me to try that. No grains. No sugar. No legumes. No wine (ugh). No dairy. No faking it. Don’t even make bread from alternative flours. I’ve been in a slump, I thought. This will be good. It will give me something to focus on. Plus, I eliminated grains once. How hard could this be? Spoiler: Hard as mother-freaking-hell. Last Monday morning, I had an emotional meltdown at 6 a.m. over the thought of doughnuts. It’s fine; I made it through. I made some eggs and life was good. Craving gone. One point to me.

I want to make one thing clear. My intention is not to lose weight; diets aren’t always about getting a beach body. Yet, say the words “I’m on this diet…” and that’s immediately what people think you’re up to. “But you don’t need to lose weight. You look great!” Thanks. But no, folks, I’m not trying to shave off five pounds (in fact, could I borrow five pounds?). I just need a reset. And that’s exactly what Whole30 is meant to do. It’s not a fair-weather friend or a fad diet that wants to kill you (remind yourself of that in week two). It’s that friend that will give you a boost when you’re down, perk up your energy levels and help you see food in a new way. Since it reduces inflammation, it may even cure the mild case of self-diagnosed psoriasis on my scalp.

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So yes, I’m on a diet. And when I ramble off the list of things I can’t eat, people reply, “What the heck is left?” Then comes the look that might as well say, “We can’t be friends because you’re the girl who diets.” Suddenly I’ve become what everyone likes to think of as One of Those Girls Who Only Eats Salad. (P.S. What did salad ever do to you and when exactly did how we eat actually become who we are?)

People, I’ve learned, judge your diet just as much as they judge your hair color. You can’t make everyone happy, so you might as well make yourself happy. I may be temporarily without pizza, but I sure do feel great. And in 30 days, pizza and I will sit down and I’ll explain why I just needed some space, but we can still be friends. Ranch can come, too.

For now, if you invite me over for dinner, yeah, it will be really annoying when I ask what ingredients you used to make that spaghetti sauce. If you want to go to happy hour, I’m there. But for the sole reason of hanging out with you. I can’t drink. Not even a little bit, and no I won’t make any exceptions. Not this once. That makes me a buzzkill, and nobody wants to be the buzzkill. I’ll save you some time and call myself annoying, but right now it’s what I’m choosing to do… for me, gosh dammit. And I’m not going to quit.

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Normally, I will indulge with you any day of the week. I’ll eat unreasonable amounts of takeout Chinese food with you. I’ll make warm, chocolate cake for dessert. I’ll drink with you and let loose and then require the Uber driver to go through the Taco Bell drive-thru on the way home. Just not for 30 days. For 30 days, I’m going to be the girl on a diet.

And I don’t want to feel bad about it.

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