Phase 1 of Atkins is complete and one of the most common recurring thoughts I had was “I can’t wait until I can eat____.” Fill in the blank with anything just about any grain based food substance and you are golden. Mexican is not as fun without chips and salsa. I don’t know if there would even be an India let alone a reason to eat Indian food without rice. Pizza, nachos, burgers, bagels and a hundred other items that carry all sorts of positive associations in our brains all carry with them an insulin response that is counter to our goals. They certainly taste good but there is a whole lot more going on. We celebrate with food, and we suffer with food. If you get a promotion you go out for a fancy dinner and if you get fired you go stay in and have pie and ice cream. After decades of conditioning this becomes so normal that when I tell someone to stop eating sugar, or grain they can hardly wrap their brain around the idea. They want to know how long and they are not ready to hear forever. It feels like penance and I wonder how much of that feeling is because we feel like those things are important for reasons other than emotional attachments. Athletes will make a great case for all types of consumption. “In my culture…bla bla bla…” I get it. In your circle, tribe, family, you bond over food. That is true around the world that does not mean you are forced to bond around a particular food. In fact if we consider the concept globally, the food a group of friends bond over in Nairobi is considerably different than what a family may celebrate with in Peru. My wife’s family starts Thanksgiving morning with a shot of gin and carne de vinha d’alhos. My family kicks it off with eggs, bacon and waffles. In Seoul I imagine the third Thursday in November isn’t really that big of a deal. I am not arguing for eliminating all of your food traditions in the pursuit of fitness. What I am encouraging is that you consider your psychological attachments to the things that you eat and how they are affecting your wellness in a big picture sense. You have started every single day with yogurt, blueberries, and coffee every day for the past 16 years. Good for you for getting your calcium and antioxidants. What if dairy and fructose are not pushing you in the right direction? Have you experimented with a different way of eating? Have you considered that your normal just might be sub par relative to your true maximal potential?