Hair of the dog is normally an alcohol-based phrase (typically used as an excuse to drink copious amounts of bloody marys) but I think the mantra, ‘curing like with like’ applies to food as well. That’s not to say that you can counteract the feelings of a sugar low by eating more sugar, however lovely that world would be. What I mean is that one of the best ways to improve your relationship with food is by eating more. Contrary to popular belief, extreme restriction is not the best path to successful weight loss and a secure relationship with food. I’ve mentioned about fifty thousand times on this site that restriction sets you up to fail. But, as we all know, eating feels counter-intuitive after a big binge . You feel guilty, uncomfortably full and overcome with anxiety about how much weight you’ve gained. Everything is telling you to reverse the damage by skipping dinner. This is a thought-pattern I hear from so many women – that restricting is the best way to relieve that terrible sense of regret you feel after eating something ‘bad’. In reality, one bad day or a couple of over-indulgent meals are probably not going to have a huge effect on your weight. But the way we react to those unhealthier times WILL have a long-term effect on our relationship with food. Failing to meet unrealistic goals of missing whole meals or eating tiny portions intensifies feelings of shame and guilt. A repetitive cycle of restricting and messing up eventually causes us to associate food with these feelings.
The best way to break this cycle is to stop restricting. By forcing yourself to eat three meals a day, even in the midst of a binge or slip up, you allow yourself to enjoy food without the guilt.
Recent health related diets have been preaching this very mantra. Joe Wicks (aka the Body Coach) prides his mantra – ‘Eat better, eat more’ – on being able to eat as much as you like. ‘You can eat double those calories. It’s liberating; Wicks says 90% of the people who come to him are under eating: It’s so common for women to starve themselves before a holiday, for example. Some of them are barely hitting 900 calories.’ These people tend to yo-yo diet, and their weight fluctuates accordingly. But as long as you’re eating a diet that is mostly unprocessed and nutritious, you can eat freely without having to restrict.
But I can’t stress how important it is to remember that the health food industry is still not void of restriction. A wonderful article by Ruby Tandoh (the hot, smart wonderwomen from GBBO) reminded me that ‘wellness doesn’t look that different from dieting’. What she means is that just because you are seemingly eating regular meals, doesn’t mean you aren’t still restricting your diet. You don’t have to literally starve yourself to restrict. Limiting your diet to only ‘good foods’ and punishing yourself for even thinking about a food laden with sugar, dairy and gluten is still a form of restriction. Just because someone manages to get in a full work out before 6am and eats a diet of soup, chia and bee pollen, it doesn’t mean that they are mentally, or physically, well. In many ways, orthorexia can be a scary disorder because it’s much harder to recognise someone’s mental struggle when all you can see is their seemingly ‘healthy’ behaviours.
As Ruby explains, following the wellness cult took her from from one unhealthy relationship with food to another. Why? Because wellness is still restriction.
So what’s the answer? Cure like with like. Eat both healthy and unhealthy food, both in moderation. Don’t overdo it with the cake, but equally, don’t overdo it with the quinoa flour (a lesson I learnt the hard way when creating this recipe). Use regular food intake, and regular consumption of both ‘bad’ and ‘good’ meals as a way to improve your relationship with food, and with yourself.
Though lifting restriction can be scary at first, eventually you’ll strike a healthy balance and allowing yourself to actually enjoy the foods you like. You’ll probably notice that breaking the yo-yo dieting pattern will help to maintain a stable weight and help to facilitate a much more important change – one in your mental health.
While bloody marys might be an acquired taste (though I’m living proof that once that taste has been acquired there ain’t no going back), this sauce is not. The spicy tomatoes paired with acidity from the toppings, creamy cheese and doughy base is absolutely delightful. Makes for a pretty good vegan pizza too if you make it without the feta.
Bloody Mary Pizza:
Ingredients (makes 2)
240g Flour (You can use buckwheat, spelt, white or wholemeal. I used quinoa flour but it kinda tasted like semen so I wouldn’t recommend it….shouldn’t have listened to those ‘wellness goddesses’)
Tablespoon olive oil
1 punnet of tomatoes
1 teaspoon horseradish sauce
Tabasco (add to your liking)
3 tablespoons Lea & Perrins
5 mini gherkins
1 teaspoon capers
50g feta cheese
- For the base, mix the flour, water, olive oil and salt together to form a dough. Season well.
- Grease a baking tray and roll the dough out into a circle. Bake in the oven on a low heat (around 180) for 15-20 mins while you make the sauce.
- Roast the punnet of tomatoes in the oven for 10 mins.
- Blend 3/4 of the tomatoes with horseradish, Tabasco, Lea & Perrins, salt and pepper. The add the remainder of the tomatoes in and blitz very lightly to give the sauce some texture.
- Once the base is cooked, spread the bloody mary sauce on the pizza, followed by the spinach, gherkins, capers and feta.
- Cook in the oven for a further 5-10 mins, until done to your liking.