eat healthier

The Fuck Yes! Rule to Help You Eat Healthier

This article originally appeared on a now defunct blog of mine. I’ve edited and reposted it here because this post started it all. 


Despite the title of this post and the whole idea behind this site’s name, I actually dislike dropping f-bombs unless I felt really fucking strongly about something.

So when I say “Fuck Yes!” with a crazy glint in my eye, it means I’m beyond stoked and so ready to rock it like a you-know-what. In most cases, it’s something I really, really want to eat (or really, really want to buy or just do). But if I don’t say “Fuck Yes!” to that double bacon cheeseburger with peanut butter shake, or to that limited edition Evangelion model kit, then I ignore it and move on until I come across something else I yell “Fuck Yes!” to.

“Fuck Yes!” has helped me draw boundaries on what’s important to me and things that I’ve only felt lukewarm about. In other words, it’s empowered me to make the decisions that actually help me eat healthier more consistently. Now I’m able to make better food choices and save money in the process by not spending frivolously on snacks and crap that I don’t want to eat that badly.

WTF Is the Point?

donuts
Photo credit: Karen Hong Photography

Fuck Yes! really started as a personal experiment. I learned about “Fuck Yes or No” from Mark Manson who had heard about it from Derek Sivers. Both of these writers applied the idea to business and relationships, but I’ve repurposed it as a counter against mankind’s greatest common enemy: “food porn eyes.” Food porn eyes is a term I started using that describes this phenomenon of “the moment you saw that cheesecake, you want nothing more than to undress it with your eyes and then get up all on it.”

Most of us recognize on some level that we need to control ourselves around certain foods. When it’s time to tango, we’ll swan dive into that dessert cart instead. Eat now, feel guilt later seems to be the theme here.

Why are our actions so often inconsistent with what we know we should do? Well, a bunch of behavioral scientists explained that we irrationally want things we didn’t even know we wanted; or we think we know what we want but really don’t. At least not without some context, like environment and delicious smells.

Let’s see how this plays out in the real world: One morning you go into a Starbucks with the intention of getting a cup of coffee. While standing in line, your eyes wander over to the well-placed display case of goodies–and wham!–that pumpkin cream cheese muffin suddenly looks sooooo sexy, and you determine that it would look even sexier…in your mouth.

Game over, man. The insatiable itch-like feeling most of us recognize as a craving comes on suddenly. Instead of looking at the barista with googley eyes you’re lusting after a lumpy, slightly burnt pumpkin cream cheese muffin. These are temptations, friends; or “food porn eyes.”

What’s more, we’re inherently really bad at predicting how we will act in the face of temptation, or dealing with the temptation once it hits. That means choosing the things that give an immediate reward because it’s easy. Case in point: that pumpkin cream cheese muffin will taste damn good for, like, 20 seconds, but the fact remains that repeatedly giving into temptations is a source of our misery (“Why can’t I keep myself from eating the whole box of donuts?! I’m so weak.” *cue the tears and violin*).

It doesn’t matter how noble these goals are or how they may benefit us, our self-control needs a little help. The good news is that self-control can be learned and improved, like a skill.

And that’s where Fuck Yes! comes in.

You Gonna Eat That?

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Over the years, I’ve developed some pretty impressive iron will, through a combination of conscious practice and a few perspective shifts. You can now put a plate of cookies in front of me–but joke’s on you, I hate cookies. If you try again and tempt me with, say, a glazed donut from Stan’s Bakery in Santa Clara,  I can resist eating it completely if I want to…but after a bit of self-talk, dilated pupils, and a few skipped heart beats, of course. (I’m still a donut-loving human, after all.)

Why not just eat the damn donut, you ask? Because remember: I didn’t say “Fuck Yes!” to it.

The rule of “Fuck Yes!” has helped me rule the temptations that used to rule me. It acts as a buffer to make me stand back and ask myself questions, like: “Is this really what you need at this very moment–not because it’s a distraction, you’re bored, or an excuse to procrastinate? Knowing yourself, is the pleasure as much as you think you’ll get from eating or buying this? Will this in some way help you toward what you really want or want to accomplish?”

If it’s a Fuck Yes! to those questions (doesn’t have to be all), it’s time to rock.

While I apply this mostly to my food and “treat yo’self” choices and what I buy, which helps to put my food choices and spending under control, I’ve seen success in some (not all) instances where I had trouble deciding if I wanted to go on a date or if I was hesitating on something as simple as taking language lessons. (This is how Fuck Yes! Saturday came to be.)

In my mind, this is effective because I believe in a difference between eating something (and by extension, buying something to eat or whatever) just for the sake of giving into that moment’s temptation, and eating something because I really know I will really fucking enjoy it. I know the “risks” involved in eating the food (discomfort, guilt, pressure, and so on) and weigh them against the reward (how much I’ll enjoy it).

By no means is it a perfect system. It’s simply allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for the many things that I now choose to do, eat, buy, love, or whatever. It’s helped me tease out what I really want, which can be tricky to figure out, but I’ve found that oftentimes what I want is already somewhere in my grumbling tummy or cold, icy heart. The enthusiasm of a Fuck Yes! simply helps bring that out of me.

So, how do you apply the rule of Fuck Yes!? Quite simply:

  • Practice interjecting. When you’re about to make an impulsive decision, you probably do some sort of second-guessing. Don’t ignore this voice. Ask yourself something like, “Is this something that I would still want and make me happy 15 minutes from now? An hour from now?”
  • Be compassionate. Don’t ask questions that belittle or berate yourself, like “You want this don’t you, you big piggy? You just never stop.” It might work for some people, but knock that shit off.
  • Be honest. Ask honest, revealing questions. Obviously, you can fudge the questions you ask yourself to make you be in favor of everything, but you’re only cheating yourself.
  • Really mean it when you say “Fuck Yes!” to something. If you pass by an ice cream shop and that pistachio ice cream looks really damn good, make sure you know you’re going to enjoy the hell out of it and move on. No regret, guilt-tripping, or wishy-washy bullshit.

Try it out, but don’t expect to be perfect. Things like self-control and being able to pull back to question your intentions take a lot of practice. Just continue to work on it, and in time, you’ll find it just gets easier and easier.

Cover photo credit: Karen Hong Photography.

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