**This is the first of a multi part series on why diets and the diet mentality simply cannot work, the distraction and impact diets can have on living the life we are meant to live, and how to shift our view of food to eat in a way that supports our health and vitality, and ultimately brings our bodies back into balance. **
Everywhere you look, there are articles and blogs telling us what foods we MUST avoid eating. For anyone who has been on a diet, you know what foods you are not suppose to eat and what’s outside of your eating plan. You look closely at calories and grams of fat, carbs, and sugar. And even though a bag of M&M’s may have the same amount of calories as a medium avocado, you know which one you are allowed to eat. We label our foods good or bad and we tend to go so far as to call bad foods “off limits”, “forbidden” and “fattening.”
When we are not barraged with WHAT foods to avoid, there is a lot of advice available on HOW to avoid these forbidden foods.
On your way to the grocery store?
Never buy THAT food in the first place or even think of having THAT food in your house.
Going out to dinner?
Call ahead to the restaurant and plan out what meal you can have.
Getting ready to attend a graduation party or wedding?
Eat before you go, so you are not overly hungry while you are there. While there, fill up on fruit and the raw veggie plate so you won’t be tempted to have a piece of cake.
I read some advice from a well known inspirational author. He suggested that if you are constantly tempted by a certain food or restaurant, change your driving pattern so you don’t even have to drive by and be tempted in the first place. For someone that lives in the suburbs of New Hampshire, I can tell you I would be doing a lot of driving if I took this guru’s advice.
Our diet and diet mentality has us believing that we can’t trust ourselves around that bag of M&M’s (and the rest of the forbidden food list), and we must put in some herculean effort to avoid eating those little chocolate candies at all costs.
The design of the forbidden food mentality is doomed for failure from the very beginning because we put so much time and energy into fighting ourselves. From the first moment we decide we can’t have something, we immediately want it. This is just how human beings are wired and here is why:
- Energy flows where our attention goes. Does it feel like that plate of cookies is drawing you in like a magnet? Of course it does. You are spending all of your time and energy thinking about those cookies. Sure, you are trying to avoid them, but you are still giving those cookies plenty of energy.
- When something desirable is in short supply, we value it more. When a food we enjoy is off limits and not available to us, we want it even more. I see this with my three kids. If the last piece of gum or Popsicle is up for grabs, each of them naturally jockey for top sibling position and fight over who get’s it. They don’t want to miss out. The opposite of this is also true. We still have bags of Easter candy, a few months old, in the cabinet. We clearly had too much candy and there was plenty to go around. Those chocolate bunnies and peanut butter cups have long been forgotten.
- Free will. Our authentic desire is to have an influence on our own lives and not be controlled or have our actions dictated by someone or something. We really don’t want anyone or anything to tell us what to do and how to do it. When it comes to food choices, our diet plan is making those choices for us, and there is a very strong part of us that will fight it over and over again.
This explains why we haven’t just gone on one diet. The first one didn’t work and neither did the second, third or thirteenth. Labeling foods as bad and putting all of our energy into avoiding them, goes against how we naturally want to function and thrive. Consider how the little M&M that is forbidden and may make you fat, is just a piece of food. It doesn’t need to be good or bad, forbidden or allowed. How you see that M&M is really up to you. And when we can see that little M&M for what it really is, we’ve taken back all of the power it has over us.