I think this principle is one that I feel most strongly about. I could not agree more with our need to make peace with food. I truly think this is the basis that will help make all the other facets easier to incorporate into how you view food and relate to it. However, I also think it is the hardest.
Often times it is easy to get caught up in advise or rules from this diet program or that diet book in the quest to shed those unwanted pounds but what is often over looked is researching the “best” way to eat for our health and what helps our body to feel good and perform at it’s best. When the focus is solely on weight loss and not the health of the body there can be a tendency to choose foods that are optimal or hindering for our goals. Figuring out all sorts of rules, tips, and guidelines about how to eat. But, do we really need all of that? At some point, the information stops being helpful and becomes hindering and often obsessive . It can lead to restrictions, burn-out, constantly obsessing about food, guilt and stress.
Can you remember a day that you did not worry about what you ate or how it was going to effect your weight?
I know I have faced my fair share of food guidelines that ended in very negative actions on my part. Namely developing a lot of guilt, loss of control and a very horrible self image.
- I “shouldn’t” eat food that is on the “bad List” When will I ever learn.
- The”bad food” will make me gain weight fast.Why can’t I just say no
- This kind of food is only meant to be consumed around tough workouts.I did not earn that food.
- This food is good. That food is bad. I am bad. I did good today. I was awful and I must make up for it tomorrow. Tomorrow…..tomorrow….tomorrow….blew it again….tomorrow.
You know when this all stopped?
When I finally allowed things that were always “off limits” before to be part of my regular diet. The negativity surrounding certain things stopped. I didn’t feel guilty for having some ice cream. Or for eating a piece of fruit more than once in a day without working out first. Or for having starchier veggies instead of solely green beans and broccoli. The cravings died down, once I realized that if I truly wanted something I could have it.
When I was first banded, I recognized that in the past when I would try to diet I would be “Gung-Ho” for about a month maybe two, and then my motivation would wane as I got bored with my bland, boring diet food and ultra strict regimen. I knew I needed to find a different way in order for me to be successful with the Lap-Band. I just spent a bunch of money and I wanted to make sure I had every advantage to helping the Band Do it’s job. So Rather then start another diet, I started taking classes at my local community college. I enrolled in health and nutrition classes and the physical fitness program. I wanted to do things differently then before. I wanted to focus on what makes the body healthy, not just what is the fastest way to lose weight. And sure enough, when I started applying the things I learned in class to my routine, I started to consistently lose weight. “Consistently” not fast, but I was losing at a average rate of two pounds a week.
What I learned from taking these classes is that my body craved balance. And is completely unaware of the diet rules. But I also learned that I wouldn’t want to just eat and eat tons of sugar or deep fried foods or fast foods because I recognized how it made me feel. And that is what kept me from binging again. I could have a cookie and not feel bad. I could have pizza and move on with life. I could eat an reasonable amount of things I would have before considered “off Limits” that left me feeling satisfied, instead of uncomfortably full. And after eating something heavier, I would always go back to eating fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, etc because it was what my body wanted. Removing labels from food freed me in a way I could not have imagined. I no longer had to face the “what the heck, I’ll just eat everything in sight today” moments after having a “bad diet day”. I could eat in a balanced way, enjoy it, and not be focused on food.
When we create our good & bad food lists (see-saw affect) the more deprived we are the less guilt we have. However, the see-saw can only go so high. Our deprivation (or “good” eating) can only go so far before we cave. Then the see-saw swings to the opposite with guilt high and deprivation low. However, if we reject the diet mentality and make peace with food, our lives can be in equilibrium. We can have NO deprivation and NO guilt. It doesn’t have to be a roller coaster of ups and downs. It can be a smooth ride instead.
What are some steps we can take to truly allowing ourselves to not only honor our hunger by eating enough, but also to choose what we really want at a meal?
- Accept the fact that no one food has the power to make you fat or fit. Throw out the good and bad food lists.
- Eat what you want without feeling the need to earn it or pay penance for it. But eat within reason, taking in too many calories then your body needs will still not result in weight loss.
- Try foods and see if they really appeal to you. If they do, enjoy them. Sometimes we simply lust after certain foods for the fact we “can’t” have them.
- Take things one step at a time. You don’t have to open yourself to eating everything you previously wouldn’t allow yourself to eat. Try incorporating one new food at a time. Eventually, simply knowing the food is available if you want it takes the focus off of it and reduces the cravings and desires to eat so much of it.
Also a important part of what I learned also was the body needs movement to be healthy. It is so much easier adding these before considered forbidden foods when you are also getting in regular physical activity daily. This is part of the balance your body craves. If you have been reluctant to start a exercise routine, I encourage you to start with even the smallest goal of fifteen minutes a day and build on that. When your body is being maintained in a way that it was designed to be maintained you will find that the “diet rules” no longer apply or are necessary.