“You simply can’t Never Binge Again. You’ll feel way too deprived and eventually you’ll just give up and feed me. Why wait? Let’s Binge!!!” – Sincerely, Your Pig
There are actually TWO types of deprivation: (1) What you deprive yourself of by NOT having something and; (2) what you deprive yourself of by having it. (To my knowledge, this was first pointed out by Geneen Roth)
It’s exceptionally rare for people to consciously choose between these two alternatives. In fact, most people never consider the second kind at all.
Just for illustration—I’m NOT saying you have to adopt this rule!—let’s take the notion of never eating donuts again. If you decide to never eat donuts again, you’ll deprive yourself of the taste, texture, and mouth feel of a donut for the rest of your natural life. You will never experience donut-pleasure again. To a donut-loving Pig, this is most certainly a fate worse than death.
But if you decide to continue eating donuts, you will deprive yourself of everything associated with never eating donuts again including (a) acquiring the body of your dreams (or something very close); (b) the “lightness of being” associated with life without all that extra weight; (c) the energy associated with more regular, healthy nourishment; (d) knowing what it’s like to have consistent blood sugar levels and to live without sugar crashes; (e) the confidence which comes from knowing you have the power to NEVER eat a donut again; (f) years near the end of your life which were meant to be pain-free and full of joy, but are instead filled with immobility and dysfunction due to strokes, heart attacks, etc.
Your Pig would love to have you concentrate only on the short term effects of deprivation because it genuinely believes Pig Slop is the only pleasure life has to offer. But the list of things we deprive ourselves of by continuing a food behavior is often a lot longer, and much more painful!
To take advantage of this insight you only need to make a solid comparison between your two choices. What will you deprive yourself of if you continue to embrace the particular food (or behavior) vs. assigning it to your Pig’s trough?
And I’ll tell you what, let’s give your Pig a running start by letting it go first. Think about some treat you just might want to consider avoiding from now on. Go ahead and tell the Pig to provide you with a long list of things you’ll be depriving yourself of if you never eat it again.
Can you feel your Pig squirming? That’s because there are only two things it can really put forward in this situation—taste and convenience. Oh, it will say you’ll be depriving yourself of life itself—that you’ll starve to death in a matter of hours without its favorite Slop.
But by now your Pig knows you’re on to that game. So the best it can do is say “because it tastes good” or “it’s so easy to just grab it and go.”
Your Pig squirms at the mere thought of this exercise because it knows its ammunition pales in comparison to your side of the equation.
Make the Pig suffer…write down your list!
Let the Pig say as much as it wants about how deprived you’ll feel when you move its Slop to the Nevers section of your Food Plan…
When you write these things down it should become clear to you the Pig is talking about itself. It will feel deprived, not you.
Then write down everything you can think of which YOU will be deprived of by keeping the Pig’s Slop in your Plan.
A well-considered, informed decision between the two types of deprivation always favors you, no matter the specifics of the Food Rule under consideration…so just write down the facts and make your choices.
I remember the day I first realized what I was depriving myself of by continuing to eat Pig Slop in a particular situation. I’m kind of an outdoorsman. I haven’t won any awards, but for the past 12 years I’ve driven up to the White Mountain National Forest (in New Hampshire) several times a month for a long hike.
Now, a big part of what my Pig used to love about hiking was how much I could feed it without gaining weight. One of my favorite things to do was to hike a 5,000+ foot mountain with a pack full of junk food. And I’d really go to town on my feed bag before, during, and after the hike…
See, my Pig had me convinced there was NO reason to hike without a big sack of Pig Slop. It was as essential as my map, compass, headlamp, and other survival gear…
Then one day, after reading about the two types of deprivation, I realized I literally didn’t know what it was like to hike without junk food. I hadn’t done it even one single day. And I began wondering what I might be missing. So instead of the traditional bags and boxes and bars of crap, I packed up some organic greens and blueberries, put some green tea in a thermos, and threw a bag of raw seeds in my pack.
Here’s what happened: An incredible calmness I didn’t know anyone could ever feel came over me. As I walked through the woods I felt I could really breathe the air, listen to the running water, appreciate the sites, and enjoy all the animals I encountered. It was one of the best days of my life. It gave me a feeling of “rightness” with the world which since then has been a more powerful lure than anything the Pig can throw at me.
It lasted several days.
I slept better. Felt less reactive to “emergencies” at work. Was better with my clients. Solved problems more easily.
In many ways I felt more present than I’d ever been.
And through this experience I realized it was my Pig who’d convinced me I needed junk food on every hike. But that was a big hairy Pig lie! I’d actually been depriving myself of who I was meant to be at my core.
Since then I’ve learned this experience of contentment is just under the surface for anyone who really wants it. Sadly, most people let their Pigs keep it from them entirely. This upsets me to no end. Why would anyone ever choose to Binge when they could just make the Pig suffer!!!???
My Pig wanted me to think hiking without Pig Slop was cruel and torturous deprivation. But it turns out I’d been so distracted by the delicious tastes, I had no idea how I truly was depriving myself.
Now, if you walk away from this thinking I’m telling you to go hug some trees and avoid any particular food forever, you’re missing the point. The point is there are TWO types of deprivation, and you are 100% free to choose either one in any circumstance.
YOU get to choose, not your Pig.
When the Pig says “you can’t follow these Food Rules any longer, they’re too depriving”, pause to ask yourself what the Pig is really aiming to deprive you of if you break them.
One last important point about all this…
You make the rules. So be sure you’ve created a Food Plan you’re confident you can live with forever. One which allows you to pursue your dreams in the body you want, while striking the optimal balance between short term pleasures vs. longer term goals. Every rule you make is a compromise between these two ends. Only you can decide where the best line is for your own body—that’s what freedom is about!
Here’s another way to look at it: Every day we make choices between “Live Fast and Die Young2” vs. “Live Slow and Enjoy the Long Ride.” Do you want to borrow life from tomorrow to live faster today, or forgo some short term pleasure to achieve a better long term outcome?
In a free country, we have every right to trade suffering tomorrow for pleasure today if this is what we truly desire. In fact, we’ve fought wars for this kind of freedom.
However, the problem is most people have allowed their Pigs to dominate these decisions, so they never make a conscious choice. And because they’ve never experienced long periods of Pig-free eating, they also haven’t had the opportunity to make informed decisions about these very critical food matters.
I might not agree, but I’d vehemently defend your right to say “I’m choosing to live a little faster right now for the sheer pleasure of it. I’m fully aware I’m probably going to die a little younger and/or suffer more at the end of my life because of this choice, but I’m of sound mind, adult years, and 100% capable of making this conscious choice.”
The problem is, people making this tradeoff rarely do so consciously. Instead, they allow their Pigs and society as a whole to pull the wool over their eyes and keep them blind to these choices.
The ultimate responsibility of freedom is choosing whether to live fast and die young vs. enjoy the longer, slower ride. However you decide on any particular Food Rule, please be sure you’ve given yourself a chance to experience the slower side of the equation so you’re making a truly informed choice.
Why? Because the Pig must suffer, that’s why!
If you’d like to see exactly what your Pig has been depriving you of and really cement in your defense against the Deprivation Squeal.