I have struggled with my diet all my life. I have binged to the point I feel physically sick and I have had periods where I ate little more than a bowl of veg a day. I have tried intermittent fasting, slimming world, the elimination diet (only managed that one for three days!) And only now am I finally finding a better relationship with food and as a result with my body. So here are my top tips from decades of trying. These might not feel conventional but they have had a huge impact for me so hopefully they help you too.
Don’t ban anything!
This is a big one. I hear lots of my friends talk about life style changes. About how they are not on a diet, but all these “life style changes” include banning certain foods. No chocolate, no carbs, no fat. Which ever way you cut it they are diets. Unless you have a medical reason not to eat certain foods never ever ban anything. We need to feel free to explore and enjoy our food landscape.
Banning food just makes you want them more. You are effectively telling your brain something which you have enjoyed for most of your life is never ever going to be enjoyed again. What does this make our clever monkey brains do, look for it everywhere and when it sees it your head is going to do everything it can to nag, bully and coerce you into eating it. After all this might the last ever time it gets to be enjoyed.
Not only will you be pushed and pushed to eat, you will then want to go overboard consuming lots of the object which your head now thinks is in scarce supply. Que binge. You will even try to justify it saying things like. “Better to get rid of it all out of the house.” Or “Well I have broken the diet today I may as well have a break and start tomorrow”.
It is in our nature to want to enjoy and explore food. Would you exclude or ban happiness from any other area of your life so easily?
Accept you will have good days and bad.
This one is huge. There is no possible way you will eat healthy 100% of the time. Even some of my fitness idols admit to having days they pig out, or are on holiday or at a party and let things slide. The goal should be to have more healthy days than unhealthy days. To try and avoid one unhealthy day becoming a streak (although that will happen occasionally too). And to let the odd slip be accepted.
In anything we try to master in life there is no such thing as perfection. If you accept that and accept you are human you will have a much easier time managing your diet.
Learn to love yourself…
This one is the game changer and not something we are likely to grasp from one blog post but if we can learn to love our bodies as they are, changing it will happen naturally. Think about the things our body’s give us. The ability to move, to see, to hear. Find those little moments in the day you can be grateful for it. Perhaps going for a walk or listening to a piece of music.
Then as you work on loving your body you can start to ask questions like “what does my body need right now?” “How can I nourish my body?”
Sometimes the answer will be I am going to eat this chocolate bar, sometimes it will be I need a walk and some fresh air. I need an early night, I need something full of vitamins which will help me feel good. If we start eating healthy as a way to love and care for ourselves rather than a punishing chore it makes the right choices feel more enjoyable.
Mostly it’s important to be kind to ourselves. In todays modern world of stresses coupled with easy access to high calorie food it is harder than ever to find a balance. The key is balance, some days will be better than others but if we keep practising to balance the scales we will find a happy level one day.
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