January is here, and as expected, the diet commercials have come out in full force! I think diet commercial season might be worse than political election commercial season, at lease those commercials aren’t trying to take my money in exchange for lies (their lies are free)!
If you’ve toyed with the idea of starting a diet, or have made a resolution to improve your health this year, I have a bold proposition for you. Let’s make this the decade that we stop dieting. Let’s let January pass us by without restricting or depriving ourselves for the sake of fitting into “skinny jeans”. Instead of putting wasted effort into diets that aren’t sustainable or realistic, focus on learning how foods make you feel so you can nourish your body instead of punishing it.
How do I improve my health without dieting?
Our culture has us brainwashed into thinking that the only way to lose weight and or get healthy is to follow a strict diet. The truth is, diets are having an opposite affect on our health and well being. Sure, we may lose weight while on the diet, but what happens after that? You go back to the way you used to eat and gain it all back? Or you try to stay on the diet forever and develop other issues (hello, weight gain and eating disorders).
Although dieters in the studies had lost weight in the first nine to 12 months, over the next two to five years, they had gained back all but an average of 2.1 of those pounds. Participants in the non-dieting waitlist control groups gained weight during those same years, but an average of just 1.2 pounds. The dieters had little benefit to show for their efforts, and the non-dieters did not seem harmed by their lack of effort. In sum, it appears that weight regain is the typical long-term response to dieting, rather than the exception.https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2018/05/calorie-deprivation
There is a much simpler answer, but the solution is not easy. Taking the time to learn about real nutrition – what your body needs to thrive, and how food can have a positive or negative impact on just about everything can take time. It’s not a quick fix, but it is something that will set you up for lasting, sustainable success.
The first step to lasting health is learning about your body
Step 1 is listening to your body. Learning what your body needs, and when, is the first step towards a healthy relationship with food and your body. Pay attention to how you’re feeling, whether or not you’re hungry, and when you’re full. We’re born with the innate ability to know what we need, and for most people it’s possible to get back to this state with some practice.
Before you eat – sit still and think about what you’re feeling and if you’re actually hungry. If you’re truly hungry then enjoy your meal. If you’re not actually hungry, think about what’s going on in the moment – are you bored? sad? stressed? all of the above? This is the hard part. Sitting with these feelings and working through them instead of eating them away is. hard. work. But you can do it and will be better off for it in the end.
Step 2 is learning how foods affect you. This part can take awhile and will likely require some elimination periods, but it’s crucial to improving your health. Start with an obvious choice, and try eliminating all added sugars for a few weeks. Pay attention to what you’re feeling, or not feeling, during those weeks; maybe you have more energy, or your shoulder pain disappears, or you don’t get headaches anymore. There are a ton of ways that foods can affect our body and we don’t know what they’re doing until we remove them for a period.
Step 3 is reintroducing those foods and finding the threshold from which we can tolerate them. Maybe you do just fine with a sweet treat here and there, or adding a little maple syrup to your coffee; that’s great! The goal is to find out how much you can get away with while still achieving optimal health.
Just imagine, this time next year when you’re ringing in 2021, you could be a whole, healthy, happy person who is NOT on a diet and yet still feels better than ever. Let me know in the comments if you’re going to make 2020 a diet free decade!
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