Article by Julie Valeur, first published in Jeunessima Magazine 16
How man diets have you gone through … and nothing really changed?
While some diets became famous based on a successful weight loss story, there are also a number of issues around dieting.
Let us have a look at some of those issues and what you can do about it.
Depriving yourself is a terrible idea
Most diets are related to some type of deprivation: “Don’t eat this …”, whatever THIS might be.
While – in the short term – this might lead to weight loss, in the long term this can push you into serious malnutrition. You need all the proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids, and fats for your body to function properly.
Missing out on even one of them over a long period of time can do serious damage to your health.
But there is more to it. When you are depriving yourself of any of the major nutrients, you make your life miserable.
One reason is that you (need to) overly pay attention to doing ‘the right thing’.
“What was it again that I can eat? What can’t I eat? Oh, and what day, what time can I eat this?”
That can cause quite a lot of stress.
Another reason is that diets, especially the very strict ones that limit the amount of calories you can eat, tend to really impact your mood.
When Oprah Winfrey had asked Beyonce about how she had felt during her Master Cleanse, Beyonce replied: “I was cranky”.
If you have been on a diet, I’m sure you have been there too.
And last but not least, any deprivation creates cravings.
This is a big one. If we have to put a lot of willpower into resisting cravings, then we don’t have the capacity to use this mental capacity to focus on more important things in life like being an amazing entrepreneur, business woman, mother, …
And while you might feel strong by overcoming your cravings, which you are, there will come a time when you will lose the motivation to fight against yourself and you will end up giving into your desires.
Giving in though after denying yourself a pleasure for so long puts you at risk of over-eating. You will quite likely suffer from an “all or nothing” mentality at this stage.
And you will start telling yourself: “I ate something unhealthy today, so for the rest of the day I am going to eat unhealthy”, thereby creating a vicious circle.
It is not even your fault. Dr. Jason Fung blames your hormones.
Anyway, this is not an excuse.
Not diet … Moderation is the way forward
So we know that strict dieting is not a great idea.
But eating fast food and other junk food on a regular basis will also have a significant impact on your health and not for the better.
However, eating what is qualified as ‘bad food’ once in a while will not take away all the benefits from an overall healthy diet.
Indeed, giving in to your cravings might have much more of a benefit than you might think:
First, because the more you ignore a craving, the more you are going to focus on it.
If you decide to indulge every now and then allows you to stay in control of what you eat while enhancing your willpower and allowing that willpower to focus on the really important things in life.
More importantly, there are, secondly, no reasons to completely deny yourself the pleasure and the satisfaction of eating your favorite food. Giving in helps you stay sane and happy along while making a diet sustainable.
What I mean is that if you are completely cutting out the food you love, your diet is unsustainable and you will not be able to stay on it for very long.
Third, we also need to understand and recognize that our body talks to us and we need to listen to it.
If you are craving a specific food, it might be your body’s way telling you that it needs a particular nutrient from that food. It might be better though to get those nutrients from something else.
You can only find that out if you listen to what types of foods your body craves.
Moreover, when you do indulge, there is no need to feel bad or guilty. It only has a bad impact on your body & mind and might even create more cravings.
When you do choose to indulge, simply decide to really enjoy it.
Mindful eating is what comes to mind here. Eat your treat slowly. Enjoy the look of the food, the smell. That actually already starts the digestion.
And then take small bites and savor each one of them.
And last but not least, stop dieting. Rather change one small thing at a time. It is much easier and instead of losing your will to live … or your will to stick to that diet for eternity … you create a slow and pleasurable change in your lifestyle that leads to much bigger results in the long term.
So enjoy what you eat, and sometimes allow yourself to give in, no matter how unhealthy it seems.