Ditch the Diet Mentality and Just Listen to your Body!
30 January 2017
I know how it feels to obsess over your body…
I used to spend hours doing the same - comparing myself to other women, critically analysing what needed fixing, and driving myself insane with self-induced pressure to improve– what was I going to do differently this time to be better?
The sad part is, no matter what I did, or how thin I was, I was never satisfied – I always had to be better, thinner, and even leaner than before. Not realising it at the time, I had entered into a game I was inevitably going to lose no matter how I chose to play.
Looking back, I can’t believe how much energy I wasted trying to attain “the perfect body” – what is the perfect body anyway? – An airbrushed, heavily edited cover body? – One that isn’t even real because it’s been so touched up? It’s crazy to think that so many of us - both men and women - get caught up in striving towards an ideal that does not, and will never exist. Yes, we have to accept that ideals sell products, and that they do so really well which is absolutely fine – but we can’t get caught up in trying to turn into these ideals ourselves.
These ideals, coupled with information overload about what, when and how much we should be eating, have left us feeling confused, overwhelmed and helpless. I felt this way for a very long time, until I made the decision to take responsibility for my own health – no more fads, no more diets, just listening to my body and working towards a healthy balance. We are all different – genetically, physically, mentally, and so it’s silly to think that one specific method will work for everyone!
Studies have validated that engaging in heavily prescriptive or restrictive dieting is unsustainable and can manifest complex and unhealthy relationships with food fraught with anxiety and deprivation. When we embark on extreme diets, or cut out complete food groups, we experience a perceived deprivation, and this in turn causes us to become preoccupied with food. In other words, the foods we deprive ourselves of become temptations, and so we begin to desire them. This inevitably leads to an unhealthy cycle of deprivation, binge eating and guilt.
We all know that it is typical human nature to want what we can’t have (ladies…that one boy that you kept running after because he was emotionally unavailable!?...Yeah, same thing!). If I tell you that you are never allowed to have your favourite cake again – you ARE going to want it even MORE than you ever did before; you are going to obsess over it, and drool over it when you see a piece eyeing you out at the bakery. This is exactly why we should be able to treat ourselves, and enjoy the occasional indulgence – this is good for the soul and promotes a healthy balance in the long term. This way we feel as if we can enjoy the foods we love, without feeling deprived or restricted, and of course, when we remove the restrictions, the cravings dissipate.
Research shows that we are all built so differently – each of us have a unique biochemistry, diverse genetics, and therefore different physical and nutritional needs. The body has a language of its own that tells us what serves and what injures our wellbeing. Unfortunately in modern society many of us have become numb to our own body’s communicative system, or we choose to ignore it. Sometimes we even miss these signals altogether due to the busyness of our existence. We turn to external sources of guidance rather than directing our attention inward, and listening to what is actually going on – to what is actually needed! Our physiological signals also differ from one person to the next, and this is why it makes no sense to apply a one size fits all approach to health.
No one knows YOUR body better than YOU do. In order to achieve optimum health, we must reconnect to our own body’s unique communications and become sensitive to what our body is trying to tell us…and then of course we need to LISTEN!
We need to shift our focus towards reconnecting with our body by nourishing, nurturing and appreciating it. We need to look at food not as something that makes us “fat or thin”, but as something that energises, protects and heals us. It really is all about balance. If we just learn how to eat again and take our nutrition back to basics, our bodies will adjust, heal, reset and cleanse just as they were built to. It is up to us to take our health into our own hands by eating in a way that makes the most sense– that is, by enjoying the stuff that grows from the earth - the stuff we can plant and harvest. These are the foods we should be eating daily – and then we need to give ourselves permission to enjoy the occasional indulgence too, so that we have a good balance.
As the saying goes “everything in moderation” – it really is as simple as that! After all, life is too short to live behind the walls of perpetual restriction. So come on…let’s live a little, appreciate our bodies, nourish them mindfully, and show ourselves some love!
I would love to know your thoughts about dieting, and how you go about making a healthy life work for you personally?
Yours in Health Always,