In a high-carb world, sometimes eating more healthfully becomes a major challenge. There are so many instances when you’d like to eat something low carb—like at parties—but it’s just not on offer, or maybe you’re mid-flight and you can’t bring yourself to pay $20 for a chicken wing. Because of this, some of us can get over excited when high quality, low-carb foods are available to us, even when it doesn’t make sense to eat them. I consider this the corollary of my grandmother’s depression-era mentality, which resulted in her stockpiling more canned coffee than she could ever drink. In other words, as crazy as it sounds, I believe low carb-ers are also prone to the dynamics of scarcity!
Though I’ve never “gone on a diet”—only permanently changed my diet to avoid diabetes—I’m only too aware that restrictive diets make people feel deprived and so eventually cause their efforts backfire. To this day, I never measure portions or count calories, and for those of who are skeptical of this approach, a study from earlier this year showed that people who cut sugars and refined grains without worrying about portions and calories not only lost weight but saw improvements in health markers such as their blood sugar.
At the same time, as an unofficial foodie who used to be a regular on the reception circuit, I was always happy to find that an event, usually scheduled between the end of work and dinner, provided high- quality fare to nosh on, as I hated eating a weird assortment of non-satisfying hors d’oeuvres or soldiering through a food-free reception, ravenous and headachy from reception wine. As a result, when high-quality nosh was offered to me, I became accustomed to making it my meal. And now I find myself prone to do the same because of relative low-carb scarcity.
For example, during a recent stay at a hotel offering delicious low-carb options such as grilled vegetables as part of its included breakfast, instead of the usual, sugar-filled continental breakfast of white breads, jam, fruit, sweet cereals and yogurt, I was beyond excited to load up every morning! But I wasn’t hungry or in the mood for veggies in the morning so instead I’d just take some hard-boiled eggs for the road (as taking the veggies themselves would, sadly, have been a step/a mess too far). Yes, I suffered from what some folks might call food FOMO (fear of missing out) and it pained me not to eat those veggies, and to seek out and buy, later in the day, the same food I’d conveniently had at my fingertips for free.
But our healthier selves are worth that extra trouble and expense because eating free, delicious and nutritious food when you don’t want it and can’t enjoy it still amounts to a waste. And if the free food we didn’t eat were to be thrown out, that’s another, bigger problem that deserves our attention. Yet eating because of perceived scarcity—as our depression-era relatives might have done—doesn’t solve this problem. With so much food waste and so many people going hungry, passing on food can be a hard act to swallow. But just because it’s free and low carb, doesn’t mean we have to eat it.