Empowered Refusal: “I don’t” instead of “I can’t”


There’s a difference between eating right and being on a diet.

The main difference: those people that are on a diet would actually WANT to be saying yes to bad food choices; meanwhile, the people who want to eat right are investing in something altogether different. They don’t WANT it at all. They WANT what comes from NOT having it.

They are self-governors.

Eating right is about realizing this life is not purely about desire and cravings. For me, it helps to realize I have things to do. Important things. If I get caught up in the temptation of sugar, fat and salty foods that are addictive, I could very well eat too much.

What happens if I eat too much? SOME of you would say, that’s no big deal – you can still live your life, Sarah. I would disagree. I believe in being ready. I’ve been given this body for a reason and for me to “trash” it is irresponsible.

Paycheck Example

It’s the same as a person who receives their paycheck and the beginning of the month and blows it on shopping for new clothes. They forget to save part of that money to pay their bills (utilities, rent, food, etc) – so you know what happens? They are a hungry homeless person with a lot of new clothes. Gosh. That seems a bit silly.

That’s why it seems a bit silly to me when my patients or friends and family CONSISTENTLY choose “pleasure” foods over “nutrient” foods. It’s like you’re justifying being a fancy dressed homeless person.

Anyone can see that your body is not ready for whatever comes your way. If you let this happen, your body will, inevitably, start to become a limitation to what you can and cannot do.

You’ll be trapped in your own unfitness.

Important to note: “Sugar, Fat, Salt” Combinations

It’s important to recognize that if you’re used to these foods, it will be hard to stop. Research has shown foods high in sugar, fat and salt are highly addictive.

In fact, they are almost as addictive as cocaine. There was a study performed with rats where they would have them press a lever for a pellet of food. They compared the number of times that rat would press the lever for food between a regular pellet of rat chow and a high sugar, fat, and salt pellet of rat chow. Each time the rat wanted another pellet, he would have to press the lever twice as many times as the last – each pellet became exponentially harder to get than the last.

That rat would push the lever close to 77 times for the high sugar, fat, and salt rat chow. The only other rat pellet substance higher than that came from… cocaine pellets.

It’s for this reason that I really don’t understand all of those dietitians that say, “You can eat junk food – just do it in moderation. Everything in moderation.”

Really? How about this – why don’t you start using crack cocaine for a little bit? But, here’s the kicker – I just want you to do it in moderation. Be prepared to stop whenever I ask you to stop.

Well, clearly that is ridiculous.

Empowered Refusal

I read an article today that talked about empowered refusal. They had a new study that showed when a person said “I don’t” eat that instead of “I can’t” eat that – they were three times more likely to follow through with the healthy eating choice. The person that says, I don’t is making it their own decision. It’s not a decision/opinion that was unwillingly pushed on them. These people are just pretending to invest in health.

Are you the kind of person that would eat poorly if you could? If so, you might be too focused on the here and now. You’ve got to start looking ahead. Start developing principles.

Consider this…What are you willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to protect?

I want to protect my health. For this reason, I’m happy to say, “I don’t eat that kind of food.” The LA Times article has a lot more great advice for how to understand the addiction of these foods and how to resist them even further.

I recommend reading it.

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