Each decade there has been a diet trend that has taken over the news and commercials that want us to buy in - literally and figuratively - to the idea that weight loss can be easy, a quick fix. Slim Fast, Atkins, Keto, Carb-free, etc.
Let me just tell you - there is no magic pill. There is no cleanse that can make you skinnier and fitter... for good.
A diet by nature is a temporary thing. So any dietary choices you’re making that are for a temporary solution (lose weight, fit into a dress, etc) is already setting you up for an “after” after you aren’t really wanting.
Diets are also typically one size fits all. Now I realize not EVERY diet is that way, but the vast majority of fad diets limit you to this specific number of whatever macronutrient is the devil this decade. Our bodies are all different shapes and sizes, we all have different activity levels and age. So when a diet says you need to cut back to 20g of carbs a day, but you’re 275lbs it’s no wonder you’re going to lose weight. You’re eating the amount of carbs 4 year old should eat.
Research shows that when someone stops a specific weight loss diet they are almost guaranteed to not only gain back the weight they lost but also gain 10-15% more weight in addition. - UCLA, Wolpert.
Any diet that restricts a specific nutrient; fat,
carbohydrates or protein will always lead to a binge cycle. The guilt & shame spiral begins and we’re back to where you started.
We can break free from diets. We can set loving boundaries and celebrate our freedom!
So what can I tell you in a short amount of time that can help free you from the vicious cycles of diet?
TIPS TO MOVE OR STAY AWAY FROM DIETS
Be wary of and stay away from carb deprivation or cutting calories or juice cleanses or fat burning supplements.
There are no quick fixes.
Serious diet restrictions do not nourish our bodies.
Most diets, pills, cleanses, and deprivation of any sort don’t end well. Typically in a year, once weight loss reaches its peak, the scale goes back up. They could be detrimental to our health.
Plan your meals and include whole foods; do so when you are full and satisfied.
Look for whole food based recipes. Substitute pantry items with healthier options, one at a time.
I’ve found that making a meal plan helps in several ways: I feel in control! When a day is long and I don’t have to make a last minute decision on what to have for dinner. The newer we are in our health journey, or depending on where we are in terms of our vulnerability, the more likely we are to pick something quick and unhealthy if we haven’t made the decision ahead of time.
The same is true for planning and prepping lunches. If you plan for it to be a healthy lunch, it will be healthy. And really, it really helps with mornings.
It also keeps the grocery list specific and doesn’t allow for too much wandering.
Have a “cravings plan.”
Chip Ingrim, a pastor and author, writes about how all of our cravings are sent to distract us from the Truth. He says, “cravings consume us at our weakest points” (Made to Crave 148). Therefore we need a cravings plan. For each of us that could look different.
Meal planning is one option.
Packing healthy snacks for events and parties may ease our temptations when we see food that will satisfy us only temporarily.
Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Make a list and don’t deviate from the list. Drink water and think about if your food is good for you before you indulge in a treat “just that one time”.
Be aware of when you are hungry and/or in a weak and vulnerable place and eat healthy.
It is always important to be aware of our feelings, especially when they are intense and manifest into a physical feeling. Before eating, think about whether the food you are about to consume will make your body better, or if it will satisfy a quick urge to forget about your emotions.
If you are an emotional eater, find healthy substitutes that can replace your cravings. Like Ice Cream and Netflix? Make my Nicecream!
Like crunchy, salty chips? Get Nut Thins or put Himalayan salt on some fresh cucumbers. You’ll feel mentally and physically better afterward.
Work on a mindset change: Diets are restricting but creating boundaries helps eating healthy food.
Diets can often slam our mental health. The restrictions are rigid, and, when we have a momentary lapse and don’t follow a diet rule or restriction, we tend to spiral into guilt and shame.
Opposite of restrictions are boundaries. Boundaries are helpful, set forth out of love. We don’t set boundaries for our kids or dogs because we don't want them to be happy. We don’t let them hit or go to bed whenever they want. We set these boundaries because we know those behaviors and habits are bad for them and those around them. They aren’t healthy.
When we set boundaries on our nutrition, we do it out of love. We eat whole foods because they give us the energy and nutrients for our bodies to move and be strong. We try not to eat too much fatty protein because it slows us down. We substitute rich, creamy, sugar-filled ice cream with refreshing parfaits or NICEcream.
These are boundaries. They are out of love.
Remember food is meant to fuel our bodies to function properly.
Asking questions about what we are about to eat can help us become mindful of the function of food and what it is going to do to us in the immediate and future. Is this going to make our guts feel good? Is this snack going to add the right amount of salt and/or sugar to our daily intake of food?
I always encourage my clients to remove unhealthy snacks and foods from his/her house. Sometimes out-of-sight, out-of-mind helps.
Sometimes I’ve suggested some of my clients put sticky notes on bread boxes or the fridge or in the pantry. This helped a client who would come downstairs in the middle of the night when her cat woke her up or to get a glass of water. She would reach for a snack just because she was in the kitchen. When she was in a moment of weakness (sleepy, unclear, and “feeling” hungry), she read the post-it and didn’t consume unneeded food.
Be mindful: Ask yourself before you eat, how is it going to help you? How will it make you the best you? And, if you still want it, chug some water and get yourself a little bit fuller before you indulge.
Each decision is an opportunity to make the next right health decision.
Lastly, I’d like to tell you to give yourself some friggin grace. Seriously. No one is perfect. We know that. That is why Jesus came to us. Sometimes we may step out of our boundaries. Sometimes we may slip and let that handful of Lays Ripples we meant to savor and then throw away turns into a binge party.
Get up. Tell yourself that you can make the next right decision when it comes to your nutrition.
Drink some water. That’s a good decision. You did it! We always have the opportunity to do the next right thing.
Insert Anna from Frozen. You can always do the next right thing.
TerKeurst, Lysa. Made to Crave. Zondervan. 2010.
A Whole & Nourished Life, by Danielle Porter - a book to help your spiritually and health journeys at the same time.