Thanks, Kura, for sponsoring this post and letting me share my opinions.
It’s that time of year. Time to make a resolution to lose weight in the New Year. Maybe you’ve made the resolution to, “get back on track,” and cut out all sugar once and for all. And while you’re at it, may as well throw out gluten too. But definitely add in kale and hemp seeds. And perhaps throw in a 2 day juice cleanse to see just how close you can come to passing out.
Then. You stick to your diet for a couple weeks before you find yourself elbow deep in chips & queso. Once you come up for air you decide that you’re a failure and you’ll probably say other awful criticisms to yourself about how you screwed up again. Never does it cross your mind that maybe you aren’t the problem. Maybe, just maybe, dieting is the problem.
When you are dieting, your body experiences a short term starvation. So when you “fall off the diet bandwagon” and allow yourself to eat again, your body naturally responds to this deprivation and starvation with extreme eating. You didn’t fail at dieting because you have zero willpower. You failed at dieting because you can’t fight your biological drive to eat when you are starving. You can see this illustrated in the diet-overeat cycle below. It’s easy to get stuck in the cycle when you under-eat and end up overly hunger, which causes you to overeat and likely feel guilty about overeating so you go back to dieting. Then repeat.
And let’s not stop there when pointing out why dieting doesn’t work. When dieting and in an underfed state, you become more obsessed with food. During World War II, a study was conducted where study participant’s calorie intake was restricted to see the effect starvation had on the human body. The study found that food became an obsession. So not only will you deprive yourself of the food you want, you’ll also spend all day thinking about the food you can’t have.
So what’s the alternative to starting yet another diet?
The answer is mindful/intuitive eating.
Intuitive Eating means letting go of the misconception that certain foods are good or bad, accepting that your body has a natural set point weight where it is meant to be, normalizing your eating by eating regularly and encouraging your hunger and fullness cues to come back, and eventually eating according to your hunger/fullness cues and cravings.
Where dieting especially gets it wrong, is how you’re supposed to feel guilty for eating the foods you enjoy. Being an intuitive eater means you listen to what your body wants. That means you eat foods that are satisfying and enjoyable. Our food choices shouldn’t be based on losing or controlling weight. To be an intuitive eater means you don’t always choose the salad over the burger. You think about what you’re craving and then eat just enough to satisfy that craving and feel full.
When I counsel clients, my focus is never on weight loss. My focus is on helping them have a healthy relationship with food. Once you have a healthy relationship with food and aren’t using food to try and fix your emotions, your body will find it’s natural set point weight where it’s meant to be.
So instead of setting a resolution to go on another diet, I’d encourage you to give mindful/intuitive eating a try.
What are the first steps to becoming an intuitive eater?
- Mindfulness around food. This means having an awareness of your hunger and what your body is craving. If your mind is saying, “pizza, pizza, pizza,” but you instead order a salad and leave the restaurant with your mind still saying “pizza, pizza, pizza,” it is likely that you’ll overeat later that day since you didn’t honor your craving. Satisfying a craving doesn’t mean overeating. Satisfying a craving means eating just enough of the food you are craving until you are satisfied. Eating what you are craving encourages fulfillment and satisfaction, rather than deprivation.
- Begin to have a curiosity, instead of harsh judgement, of your behaviors around food. Ask yourself, why do I eat the way I eat? Do you grab a handful of chocolate when you’re stressed about an upcoming exam? Or perhaps you reach for the jar of peanut butter when you’re procrastinating about finishing a work project? Or maybe you’re just bored and that ice cream is there so you get a spoon. The problem with using food to fix our emotions is that food is fleeting. It fixes how we feel in the short-term (aka the feeling of fullness replaces our emotion of stress/annoyance/boredom), but in the long-term food doesn’t fix the problem. The only problem food can fix is hunger.
Becoming a mindful eating doesn’t happen overnight. Just like if you’re learning a new language, it takes time to master. The first step to breaking free from the diet mentality is to realize that dieting has a 90+% rate of failure. Why would you invest time in something that has those stats?!
Then ask yourself, has dieting ever worked for me? If the answer is, “no” or “I’ve been dieting constantly for the past ‘x’ amount of years,”…
..then it’s time to try something new.
To help you get started with intuitive eating, I’ve put together a Mindful Eating Giveaway for one reader. (giveaway closed.)
- Giftcard for a massage – to relieve stress/help you relax in a healthy way
- Mindfulness coloring book + colored pencils – for stress relief
- Kura Protein Smoothie Powder (berry & chocolate) – to help you start your day with an adequate breakfast and not be overly hungry at meal/snack time
- Intuitive Eating book – a great resource as you choose to never diet again
- Tea – for relaxation
- Face mask, argan oil for hair, nail polish – also to help relieve stress/help you relax in a healthy way
- Pretty journal – to allow you to download your emotions, instead of turning to food to distract yourself from what you’re feeling
Giveaway winner = Jennifer M. Winner has been contacted.
Note: Dieting can also lead to eating disorders. If you are suffering from an eating disorder, I encourage you to reach out for help. If you do have an eating disorder, you likely have far too many food rules to practice intuitive eating. You can not go from having an eating disorder directly to being an intuitive eater.