**This is the final post 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. **
I remember going on Weight Watchers after I gave birth to Ryan, my oldest. I was assigned 36 “Points” to eat a day based on my current weight and my weight loss goals. I quickly learned I could eat more food that was lower in fat and higher in fiber. I would eat a whole bag of low fat microwave popcorn because it was only 3 points. It didn’t matter If I was hungry for the whole bag or not, nor did it matter if it felt satisfying or not. Microwave popcorn was cheap food, and I convinced myself I was getting a huge bargain.
When I couldn’t stay on Weight Watchers any longer, I struggled with not knowing what to eat, when to eat it or how much to eat. I felt so lost and didn't trust myself around food. The Points calculator was still in the back of mind. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was overeating and bingeing more than ever before because I was trying so hard to restrict calories and fat.
Dieters embrace the mentality that they must restrict calories to lose weight. The sad part is that despite best intentions, food restriction leads to overeating and bingeing.
The good news is that there is a much better way to nourish yourself and bring your body into balance. A reliable, effective and permanent solution to making food choices. It’s not a diet or a mind-set of restriction. It’s a process of connection and listening. Ready to fly solo and make diets a thing of your past? Start here:
Understand what you value most. When it comes to your health and your body, what is important to you? Be specific. If your answer is, I just want to lose weight, then look a little deeper. What are benefits of weight loss? How will you feel when you weigh less? Maybe this means you have boundless energy so you can chase after your kids all day like a superhero and then have enough left over to clean your house before you go to bed or maybe you want to run a half marathon and want to feel lean and strong all the way to the finish line. When you are clear that you may simply want to feel light, radiant, energized or strong in your body, then your food choices will be so straightforward. They will either support what you value or they won’t.
Ask your body for feedback constantly--before you eat, when you are eating and after you have finished.
- What do you want to eat?
- How does your food choice make you feel?
- Did your food choice give you a steady amount of energy?
- Did your food choice fill you up for a few hours or are you hungry a short time after?
Shift your view of how you look at all food. There are high quality choices and low quality choices. Throw out the idea that food is good or bad. Quality is defined as how the food serves you, your health and what you value. Your food choices will fall in a range between serving you and fulfilling a higher purpose and what you value (higher quality) or it will not serve you as well (lower quality). When we label a certain food as bad and off limits, we may be drawn toward it and want to eat it more. The more you focus on choosing high quality food on a daily basis, the better you will feel.
Love your body, not matter what it looks like. You are not your body. Your body houses your spirit. Caring for your body is choosing to love and nurture your highest self. Your body isn’t something to showcase or define your self worth. It’s something to honor and cherish.
What we discover when we stop dieting and start listening, is that certain foods don’t make us feel good and feeling good is important to us. When I was eating bags of microwave popcorn, what my body desperately craved was some protein. After eating all of that popcorn, my belly still felt empty, and I was hungry a short time later. I no longer diet. Now I ask my body what it needs and I listen.
Listening to the wisdom of your body is the answer to vibrant health and balancing your body. Trust that listening is all you need to do. It won’t lead you astray.