The two most commonly heard ideas around ‘diets’: 1. They don’t work, or 2. They are vital to achieving your goals.
Personally, I find both statements to be far too general and broad, but also severely missing the point. What I have found is that, in fact, a mindset shift around food and activity is the real answer. Because:
a diet is simply the food you choose to consume.
Unfortunately, the word ‘diet’ has been seriously stolen, broken and altered from its original meaning, and morphed into something that is based primarily on fear, shame and self-loathing. (We can thank our patriarchal conditioning for that one). The word “diet” originally comes from the Greek word, ‘Diaita’ – which actually means ‘Way of Life’… and, if you ask me, never looking at a slice of toast again and only consuming juiced vegetables forever is not exactly what I consider LIVING.
How I see it: everything that happens to and in our bodies is information that determines how we move through life on a daily basis. From how much we sleep we get and exercise we do to what we eat and how much (or little) water we drink — it is all processed by the body as information determining how we operate.
Our bodies are intelligent machines that RESPOND TO EVERY SINGLE THING WE DO. You can’t exactly pull a fast one on the body, it’s always one step ahead trying to keep you alive and well. (I.e. when we sleep very little or very poorly, the body releases chemicals that help keep you awake the next day. When we exercise intensely, the body responds with inflammation and recovery support. And when we eat junk food (processed food loaded with sodium, sugar, chemicals and/OR food that simply doesn’t make us feel well…) the body responds, and simply put: it doesn’t function optimally.)
WHERE THE MINDSET SHIFT NEEDS TO HAPPEN (a few places)
- Rather than thinking of a ’healthy diet’ as the unsustainable thing that’s just going to get you looking a certain way in a bathing suit this summer (blame our patriarchal conditioning for that one too), try to come up with 5, or even 10 or 50 reasons why eating a balanced choice of foods will make you operate and (more importantly) FEEL GOOD.
- Instead of seeing what someone else is eating and tying to copy them because you like the way THEY look/live, tune inward to your body and ask yourself, ‘what is my body, deep down, intuitively asking me for?’ — and find this answer through educational sources, or a coach who can help you get to the bottom of it. Look at your digestion, your energy levels, your mood, your sleep. It’s all very connected to what we do with and put into our bodies.
- LET GO OF GUILT/SHAME/FEAR AROUND FOODS. This is a topic for an entirely separate post, but for now, I’ll just say this: a healthy diet is just as important as a healthy mind, and if you are restricting yourself from eating foods your body WANTS, this is not self-care; it is self-destruction. Eat the food you want to eat, and I promise you will feel better. (I know this is complex and often very deeply rooted in other things. Therapy can be an amazing tool to overcome food fear/shame/guilt. You aren’t alone!)
- Remember that your body is a vehicle that will help or hinder you from achieving everything you want in life — from a badass career to creating a family to traveling the world or starting a revolution… it all starts in your body, so you must take care of it. Not just for this summer’s goals, but for your entire life.
- If you choose to see how you feel without (or with less of) a certain food, remember that it’s not PERMANENTLY LIMITED. You’re just trying to see how you feel without it (or less of it) because you care about your body. There are many days left in your life, many days left to eat that thing. TIME IS NOT RUNNING OUT THAT QUICKLY.
If you can start to distinguish the differences in making decisions out of a place of fear, shame, hate or self-loathing, and those that that come from a place of self-respect and love; you will inevitably make the right decision. FOR YOU. And most importantly… that ‘right decision’ sometimes very well may look like the cookie jar. But, more often than not, it looks like a BIG-OL-PLATE loaded with vegetables, whole grains, some fruit and some protein to get you through your busy day, feeling energized, HAPPY, and most importantly: not fixated on what you ate (or what you’re eating next).
No, it isn’t that easy, but it can be — and developing that self-awareness is essential if we want to demolish the pattern of yo-yo dieting (no, it’s not just you), which only wreaks havoc on the body and leaves us feeling empty, frustrated and hopeless.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to food and fuel, you may always reach out to me (or any licensed health and wellness coach) for guidance. I help my clients to better understand what their bodies needs (which is ever-changing) so you can make your own food choices from a place of love, rather than hate. This stuff is tough, and you don’t have to do it alone.
So… whatcha eating for lunch today?