Have you ever felt like being on a diet was like being grounded, and if you snuck out and had an “off limits” snack you would feel so bad as if you had ruined everything?
I can guarantee that anyone that has been on any type of a restricted plan has felt this “food guilt.” So, I want to take the time today to talk a bit about this type of shame that hinders our progress and creates a backwards understanding of healthy living.
From personal experience, I know what it feels like to screw up a “perfect diet.” You’re on a low calorie no carb meal plan that allows no soda, fried things, or white things…all is going well and veggies with lean protein are your best friend…until you get invited to a friend’s birthday party and you HAVE TO GO. You’re afraid. It’s not that you don’t want to hang out with your gals…it’s just that the food that’ll be served will be too tempting. You’ve been so on track and you don’t want this to make you slip.
Oh goodness. What do you do? Maybe try to eat a salad before you go so that you’re full and will eat less. Drink more water so there’s no room for grilled burgers and fried appetizers.
You head to the party, telling yourself to stay strong. All is good until you open the door. And there it is…straight in front of you…that bowl of hot and sultry spinach dip with beautifully arranged crackers lining the plate. You look to the right and there’s alcohol and friends urging you to relax and have a drink with them. You look to the left and the girls just opened up a freshly delivered box of hot Hawaiian pizza. You see that luminous cheese stretch as someone grabs a slice for their plate. A piece of pineapple drops back into the box and all you wish is to just have a taste.
You keep thinking…ughh…they don’t understand what I have to go through. Seeing this food is torture. They’re so lucky that they can eat whatever they want and be skinny. Look at me, working so hard, suffering like this, all I want is a bite. But I can’t. I can’t ruin it now.
But like a fish attracted to a worm on a hook, you can’t stop the force that’s pulling you towards the pizza. You keep swimming and swimming closer. You grab it, bite it, OMG it’s amazing! But before you can even indulge fully, you feel a pit in your stomach. Almost immediately…that guilt settles in and taints your whole body with shame.
I messed up, you think. All that hard work. Gone. Screw it. I’m a failure. Let’s just stuff myself with whatever and start again tomorrow. No point in stopping now. Let the self destruction begin.
Being on a diet isn’t fun and sometimes it can feel like jail. But if done correctly…changing the way you eat to achieve a healthier lifestyle should be fulfilling, satisfying, and rewarding.
The reason why so many diets fail is because there are so many freaking rules. Too many restrictions and directions that it takes so much effort to stay on track. You know what the problem is? All of these “magic diets” are so focused on calories – grams of carbs – grams of protein – grams of fat – so focused on the mini details. Accounting class was my least favorite in college and I really don’t want to look at my food in terms of checks and balances too! Ahhh!!!
I want to look at food as fuel, not as the enemy. I want it to be something that I look forward to. Something that makes me happy. Something that not only fills my belly but also fills my soul. My body doesn’t run on numbers. It runs on good energy.
Here’s what you can do to break out of food jail and still eat well to lose weight (if that is your goal) or to embrace clean eating:
Yeah. The truth is that you are most likely going to gain weight on a diet because you aren’t used to the low calorie/low carb/low fat intake and will get super hungry. As a result, your stomach will secrete a hormone called greleen which will make you even more ravenous! If you like to stay up late and are getting less than 7 hours of sleep, you’re going to be prone to eating more as well. Not because you will have more time to think about food, but because chemically your body will make more leptin which will increase your appetite.
EMBRACE HEALTHY EATING.
Stop with the calorie counting obsession. Stop with the food fear. This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle. And it works. You will lose fat. You will shed any excess weight. Think about this as calibrating your diet and bringing normalcy back into your eating.
- Eat veggies. Lots of veggies. Steam them, bake them, boil them, sautee them. Let veggies rule the bulk of your plate. No veggies are off limits. Have it at every meal.
- Drink more water! This fills you up, helps your system flow better, and will make your skin brighter. You need water to function. HYDRATE.
Those are the two big ones. Now fill the rest of your stomach with lean proteins like chicken, fish, scallop, eggs, tofu, lentils, beans etc. If you’re craving carby things, do whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat. And don’t be afraid of fruit! It is good!!! I’d rather you eat fruit than candy bars!!! Plus it has fiber! Fruit is nature’s candy.
Whole, natural foods are amazing. They taste so good. And are so filling in numerous ways.
Diets or meal plans are designed to give you guidance but eating should not make you go crazy! It should not be so complicated and should not be dictated by numbers. TRUST ME. If you eat more veggies and drink more water, everything will fall into place. Stop focusing and obsessing about food and dieting. Put your energy towards eating whole food and paying attention to when you’re hungry and when you’re full. Be conscious and allow your body to function the way it is supposed to.
As for working out, try to sweat daily. Do a workout that’s fun for you but still challenges your muscles. It should get your heart rate up. You should be sore if it’s something new. Switch it up to keep your body working hard. The workout calendars that I switch up every month are perfect.
So the next time you feel super guilty about eating something, step back and assess your situation. If you feel guilty it’s because you feel deprived. Your eating habits aren’t working for you. Also remember that every body is different. What helps someone lose weight may do the exact opposite for you. I ask that you start to be more aware of how your body reacts to certain foods. Eat more of what works and less of what doesn’t. At the end of the day, you will have to be the one to write your own “diet plan”. It takes time. There’s nothing wrong with following someone else’s published plan, but keep in mind that it is ok to alter it. It is ok to bend the rules to fit your needs.
What’s your current “diet” like? Do you struggle with food? I’d love to see your perspective in the comments!