Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Folly Of All Or Nothing Thinking (And Roasted Chickpea And Crumbled Tofu Salad)

All or nothing thinkers don't just eat one cookie and put the rest away for later. They don't eat half a pizza for lunch and then have a salad for dinner to compensate. Instead they have the other half of the pizza and some ice cream too. They don't exercise three days a week. They exercise every day and get frustrated that they're so hungry all the time. I understand this because I've always been an all or nothing thinker. I used to try so hard to diet, but the second I screwed up, I gave up for the day. Oh well, I already messed up lunch, I might as well eat badly for the rest of the day too! The problem here is obvious, but how do we change our all or nothing mindset?

The shift came about for me when I was seeing a therapist at NYU about my binge eating. She asked me to think of my eating on a scale of 1 to 5. A 1 was a perfect day and a 5 was the worst possible day I could have. Everything else was on a scale in between. Up until then I had always berated myself any time I felt like I hadn't eaten the way I planned. And as soon as I started beating myself up over it, I would feel so bad about myself I would go and eat more. It was a bad cycle that I could never seem to stop. Until my therapist put it in perspective. She reminded me that I didn't need to be perfect to be healthy. What she asked me to do was rate myself on that scale every time I felt like I had a bad day. My goal was to avoid reaching a 5 on the scale. That was in 2006. I can't deny that I've binged since then, but in the past three years I've only hit that 5 once. And I can honestly say I don't think I'll ever go there again.

I'm a perfectionist. I'm hard on myself and I don't usually give myself enough credit. But when I have a bad eating day, I ask myself, "Was it a 5?" If not, then I let it go and I move on. And without the guilt and self-loathing that I used to put on myself, I don't feel the need to keep eating badly all day. Half a pizza for lunch might not be the healthiest thing, but if I follow it with a salad for dinner, I'll feel a lot better the next day than if I finish off the other half. After all, every meal is a chance to eat healthy. You don't have to turn one not-so-perfect meal into a whole not-so-perfect day.

Roasted Chickpea and Crumbled Tofu Salad
Print-Friendly Option

1 16-oz container of firm tofu
1 20-oz. can chickpeas, drained (but not rinsed)
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups mushrooms, quartered
alfalfa sprouts
1 carrot
1 zucchini (if you can get it fresh from a farmer's market, it will taste 10x better than at your grocery store)
mixed salad greens
1 cup dried cranberries
1 lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
wheat-free tamari
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

  1. Over the sink, squeeze the tofu to get excess water out. Crumble it into a bowl and stir in a little tamari (about 2 tsp.). Set aside to let the flavor soak in.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Put the chickpeas, green peppers and mushrooms in a casserole dish. Drizzle the olive oil over them and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (as much or as little as you like). Turn the chickpeas and vegetables a few times so they're evenly coated with oil.
  4. Bake for about 35 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the peppers are tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  5. On 4 salad plates, arrange a mix of salad greens. Over the greens, grate the carrot and zucchini. You can add as little or as much as you like.
  6. Add the crumbled tofu and dried cranberries (1/4 cup per plate).
  7. Add the chickpeas and vegetables and a sprinkling of alfalfa sprouts.
  8. Lightly squeeze a little juice from a lemon and add more tamari if needed.
* To keep calories down, I enjoy this with just the tamari and lemon juice, but your favorite dressing or a simple mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar can be added.

Serves 4

Dietary Exchange Per Serving
1 starch, 2 proteins, 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, 2 fats

This post is linked to Friday Foodie Fix.



one of the hardest things overcoming bingeing is the all-or-nothing mentality. it's comforting to see myself in your story!

Grace said...

Im still loving your blog - just wanted to let you know (:

LucindaSarina said...

Thanks Grace! That's always nice to hear!

Fitnut said...

wow - that totally resonated with me. Whenever I went off track a little on one day it's like I gave myself permission to binge. It was kind of all or nothing - really good eating day or horrible.

Elizabeth A. said...

That salad looks beautiful! I am going to try to make it. Not that it would be hard to make. But I have to get some ingredients and remember long enough to actually do it. nice pictures!

LucindaSarina said...

Isn't it true, Robin? The way we react to food psychologically is so fascinating...and sometimes annoying!

Thanks mom!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the fabulous salad recipe! I love tofu and this is one way i've never tried it.
Your lemon juice / tamari dressing is exactly the way my mom always ate her salad, and I had forgotten about that until now. So for me... your recipe brought back some warm and fuzzies. Im your newest fan!


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