I rode my share of diet roller coasters, did my time in diet detention, and spent many mornings obsessing over the scale. While I truly believed I was doing the right thing for my body (no pain, no gain, right?), I was making one grave mistake: I was not eating authentically. I let the latest health trends dictate my diet, and focused on what others said was good. I was a diet-cola drinking, calorie-counting, low-fat foodie. At one point, I even gave up carbs because Atkins said so. That was a terrible week! Today, I give diet fads the finger (it’s not very classy of me). I have found a regimen that works for me. It’s what I call an authentic eating plan. Here’s how you can ditch diets and eat authentically too…
Recondition your Hunger and Habits
Forget your Weight Watchers points, low-carb lifestyle, and everything you learned online and in the world. Crash diets create a vicious cycle of deprivation and indulgence — because your hunger is a tantrum-ready toddler waiting to kick and scream whenever you say “no.” But let’s face it, you have to set some boundaries or you’ll end up eating salty chips for breakfast and ice cream bars for lunch. Or will you? I believe you won’t…
Let Your Body Be Your Guide
Let your body be your guide and emotional eating will become occasional more than habitual. You’ll realize it’s okay to eat cake at a party or drink a beer at the beach, if that’s what feels good.
When you begin this experiment of letting your taste buds tell you what’s what, you will initially reach for everything you craved and could not have when you were counting calories and keeping score. But soon, you will tire of the foods that make you feel sluggish and unhealthy. When you let your body be your guide, you’ll begin choosing what makes the most sense for sustained energy, optimal digestion, mental clarity, and more. But yoga is a crucial component here. When you get on your mat daily, you default to doing right the rest of the day. You develop a healthy mindset and learn to listen to your inner promptings. When you practice self-love, you naturally become more nurturing.
Get Rid of Guilt
Eating without guilt is so significant to maintaining healthy eating habits. Guilt can be destructive. It can bring you down and offer every self-loathing excuse to keep you bound to bad habits. Don’t fall into the trap of self-defeat. Don’t tell yourself that you blew it after a potato chip binge so you might as well give up. If you made some poor choices, know you’ll do better next time. Because you have many meals and snacks ahead of you, and if you eat well most of the time, you’ll stay on track. Love yourself to change and let go of guilt.
Use Positive Reinforcement to Instill Healthy Habits
Say a prayer of thanks before eating, or recite your own meal-time mantra. You might say this: Food is a gift from the earth, and I receive it with gratitude. I eat whole foods because I value my body and mind.
Throw Out the Rules
I don’t eat meat but I would never condemn my bacon loving friends. Diet is a personal choice, and you should do what you feel is best for your own body. In addition, I realize structure works for some people but it sucks the joy out of my life. So you may eat breakfast upon waking, and lunch at noon daily, but I prefer to eat when hunger strikes, and if it doesn’t…I wait.
Listen and Respond in Love
In another post, I talked about the big-is-beautiful trend, and how I saw people gravitating toward a self-love no matter what your size ideal. That can be harmful because while we should love ourselves at any weight, we have to be careful not to support our out-of-control conditions. Being morbidly obese may affect our level of engagement with the world, limit our mobility, make us ill, and bring us shame. Rather than just getting rid of the shame, wouldn’t it be best to also get rid of the weight and live a healthier life? Isn’t that the true definition of self-love? Do what’s good for your heart, lungs, limbs, and whole self rather than making fat feel good psychologically. I’m all for self-acceptance, but I don’t believe we should be complacent when we can and should change to become our best selves. Not that weight loss is easy. I don’t diminish the journey — believe me, I’ve been there. But you are so worth the work.
When we give ourselves space to make decisions without guilt, we often gravitate toward what’s good for us — at least most of the time. If we are doing yoga and being mindful, we can trust ourselves to respond with self-love, even when junk food comes a calling!
Mantra: I don’t just show compassion to the world, I show it to myself — in the way I eat and in all that I do daily.