Here’s a simple fact. People like to eat what they like to eat. In the immortal words of Margaret Mead, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”
Even when people go on a diet, chances are pretty good that, once the diet is over, they will go back to eating the way they are used to. That is why the stats on dieting are terrible. Most people regain everything, and more, after a diet. In fact, I recently ran into some research that shows that people who diet actually increase their chances of gaining weight, not the other way around.
Sometimes you can help yourself stop dieting by taking a look at your relationship with food. By way of paring it down, there is something that I have noticed a lot when it comes to food habits. This is something that often keeps people from having success keeping extra weight off or reaching their weight loss goals.
It is this: Many people separate foods into “good” and “bad.”
The self-talk that goes on may include such thoughts as, “food is the enemy”, “this food will make me fat”, or “it’s my birthday so I can eat whatever I want. I will be good tomorrow.”
Going down this road can lead to a dieter’s mentality. That’s because underneath the good/bad paradigm is actually a feeling that food controls you, not the other way around. You may end up feeling like you have to go on a diet to get control of things.
To get started on switching this around, you can ask yourself one simple question: “Why do I eat?”
Is it a social event? A reward system? A confusing necessity? Is it a fun project because you like to cook and think about food? Or, are you trying to do the best you can for your health?
Yes, food can be enjoyable and make us feel good. But again, why do we eat? Our bodies need nutrients of all sorts. It’s a basic need. However, I would put it to you that the food manufacturing business endeavors to make food into something that is entertaining, and something that we will want more of. We can easily lose sight of its real purpose. Food is actually there to nourish our bodies, give us energy, and hopefully keep us in a state of health so that we can enjoy our lives.
Here’s another quote, this time from Larry McCleary, author of Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly: Experience Dynamic Weight Loss with the Brain-Body Connection. “About eighty percent of the food on shelves of supermarkets today didn’t exist 100 years ago.”
I throw that in here to make a point. Never in the history of humans have we been bombarded by food manufacturing that is capable of getting us off the course of what food actually is for. To top it off, most manufactured food is actually bad for us, for varying reasons.
So, let’s reframe that “good/bad” paradigm.
Instead, you can ask if the food is healthy or unhealthy. Fit it into an overall plan of eating whole foods, not manufactured ones. This can give you a way to take the focus off of food as some sort of mysterious enemy that you have a dubious relationship with. Instead, it puts things into perspective, with you in charge of making healthy choices.
Want more information on this? Here are a few books I can recommend that speak to this issue.
How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD. This book cuts through all the latest research to present the best nutritional advice possible.
The Rules of Normal Eating by Karen R. Koenig, LICSW, M.Ed. A commonsense guide to checking out your beliefs about food, and finding a new perspective if you need to.
The Portion Teller by Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., R.D. For those of us who have lost track of how much food we need, and what is best for us.
Does this ring true for you or someone you know? Feel free to drop me an email with any comments.
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