I became so bitchy when I did a low-carb diet with my girlfriends in college. One night, we all went over to my friend’s apartment after classes to measure out the foods “allowed” for dinner that night. I thought I would feel better after I ate, but I still felt so irritated, all I wanted to do was bite someone’s head off. I ended up eating anything with a carb from my friend’s snack cabinet. I got so hyper that I couldn’t stop laughing and then I crashed with a major headache.
Clearly, this diet-thing was not a match for me or my body. No matter what way I disguised it: watching what I eat, being good, eating healthier, cleansing, no eating after 7 pm, no dessert-ing, whatever! It always led to a feeling of deprivation (both physically and emotionally, depending on the diet) which led to binge-ing on everything off the diet. Yet, I was eager to hop on the next shiny new diet because maybe… just MAYBE – this would be “the one” I could stick to. Maybe this next one (…and the next one, and the next one… in reality) would finally be the magic bullet that would keep my bigger jeans in the back of the closet for good!
I was obsessed with how to never fail a diet again. Each new plan I thought I was giddy with the experience of feeling in control. But when I look back now, it was actually anxiety I was feeling. When I was “on track” I would feel self-righteous that I was eating all the right things and simultaneously, I would feel totally panicked that with one bite of anything off-limits I would fail.
I equated success with staying “on track” in order to hit my goal weight. What was so crazy is that even when I *did* hit my goal weight, I never felt successful because I was constantly worrying about my next meal and still feeling very self-conscious about my body.
A vicious cycle, isn’t it?
If you can relate to this, here are a few tips that will get you out of this loop way quicker than it took me (10+ years!)
1. Stop dieting and stop leaning on plans spelled out for you by “diet and nutrition experts.” Get to know your body instead! Remember, your body has physical, mental, and emotional components that all factor in to what it craves and what foods make it feel nourished. Dieting plans are created for thousands of people for quick-fix weight loss. It’s impossible that these plans could meet each person’s unique needs for the long-run.
2. Skip the “good” vs. “bad” food game. Eat things that you enjoy! Slow down and savor them, Allow yourself to take in the pleasure of food, rather than compound eating with guilt. You will eat less and enjoy more!
3. Check in with how your body feels after trying different foods, it will help you determine which foods feel most nourishing and energizing to your body. Practice getting more of those into the mix of what you eat. Remember to keep exploring new, nutrient-dense possibilities! (You don’t want to get sick of the same three things.) Notice what makes your body feel good and your body will intuitively start to crave more of it.
4. Mind the season. If some of your faves are a hearty salad or a green smoothie, your body may be saying, “Hell, no!” to these things in the colder months. Instead, opt for warm, nutrient-dense soups, stews, and sautéed veggies when it’s cold out.