It’s around the time of year again and lots of people are making New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions might be about making healthier lifestyle choices, like working out or eating healthy. We commit to get fit and decide that this year is THE year we are going to hit our target weight. Yet time after time, the majority of people fail in their attempts to lose weight long term and make themselves miserable in the process of counting calories.
So, why is it that so many diets fail?
The answer could lie in the outdated mindset that to be healthy and lose weight one must “move more, eat less.” These kinds of restrictive diets are not sustainable long term. Depriving and restricting your body is actually punishing your body, not allowing it to get the nourishment that it needs to convert fat to energy. This begins the toxic cycle of destructive eating that forces you to look at food in a harsh, negative light.
A healthy mindset about food and healthy eating habits go a long way towards achieving weight-loss and weight maintenance goals. Unfortunately, many people struggle with the relationship between food and dieting. For some, this means falling off a diet by secretly consuming chocolate chip cookies, muffins, ice cream, fried chicken and hamburgers.
Yo-yo dieting is another way an unhealthy relationship with food manifests itself. Some can be on top of their diet game for weeks or months at a time, then relapse and gain weight by eating high caloric items filled with refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. Others eat emotionally to insulate themselves from their feelings- eating comfort foods when they’re stressed, sad, bored, or lonely. Too many people seem to be punishing their bodies with exercise they don’t enjoy, or causes them pain.
Restoring balance to our overall wellness
Our goal is to shift the paradigm mindset of dieters, to instead be “eat more, stress less.” We need a more positive approach. Our bodies are meant to be fed not starved, and we need to focus on what we put in them, not what we take away from them.
The true answer lies in one word – Nourish.
To nourish means to provide with the materials necessary for life and growth. When we give the body what it needs and wants, we feel satisfied, we don’t suffer the hunger, energy, and cravings that accompany diets. Instead, we feel fulfilled, rewarded, full of life and vitality. Of course, we have to consider the impact of the choices we make, so awareness is key, and asking ourselves if a certain food is going to nourish us adequately, in terms of its nutritional value as well as it’s taste and satiety, is key.
It’s about finding what works for you, and also finding what you feel nourishes you on all levels. We need to feel like we are treating ourselves well, because this leads to feeling good about what we are doing, which is the secret to keeping it up. We need to nourish ourselves, not deny ourselves.
Instead of punishing your body, start building a positive relationship with food. Food is a fuel source, a way to nourish your cells, brain and muscles with the nutrients and energy that it needs to support you during the day. By giving it the foods that provide you with maximum energy and vitality, you are ensuring that you can achieve your to-do list, you can work out without feeling drained, and best of all, you can spend time with your loved ones without feeling bloated, lethargic or a slave to food.
Stop punishing yourself with food, Start nourishing yourself:
- Pay attention to how you feel after you eat: Make a food diary, so you can record how foods are making you feel. Focus more on eating the foods that help you feel energized for longer, and less time eating the foods that make you feel tired and sluggish. Food affects people differently, so your list of energizing foods may be different from someone else’s.
- Don’t worry about fads: There are so many diets out there from keto, paleo, whole 30, vegan… the list goes on. Fads are a one-off that may help you lose weight quickly, but are not sustainable. Stay strong against peer pressure and focus on nourishing your body until you are full and satisfied with whole foods that taste good and are good for you.
- Building a healthy, positive relationship with food takes time: This is real life. There will be times when you will go out to lunch with friends or go to big family gatherings that have a buffet of foods that you don’t normally eat. It is ok to eat different foods! It is ok to eat richer, more indulgent foods sometimes. It may make you feel less energetic than normal, but it’s ok. Building a healthier, positive relationship with food means that you don’t ever have to feel guilty for having things in moderation. Just get right back to eating whole foods the next day!
Changing your perspective on food can have incredible repercussions on other aspects of your life. Once you see the positive change from how you think about food, you will feel energized and motivated to accomplish other goals in your life. But best of all, you will gain back your self-confidence. Your relationship with food is in your control. And it’s time to make it a positive one.