Let’s talk about the word diet and how we have skewed what it means to often represent a way of eating that is overly strict, negative, and not sustainable for long periods of time.
We’ve all heard it far too often, either from ourselves or someone we know and love… “I’m going on a diet.” or “I can’t eat that, I’m on a diet.” These statements are usually followed up with a complaint about having gained unwanted body fat, about a crash or fad diet that will help them lose a lot of weight in a short period of time, and maybe a reason for wanting to lose weight– for instance going on vacation or attending a special event, like a wedding. The problem here isn’t wanting to change the way you eat in order to see changes in the body… it’s the manner in which it is done. Many of the diets people “go on” are far too restrictive and cut out entire food groups, or reduce calorie consumption to the absolute minimum. None of that is a sustainable way to live, and it is certainly not healthy. Sure, you can drop lots of weight when you cut out all carbs from your life… but the havoc you wreak on your immune system, hormones, basic body functions, and happiness is nowhere near worth it. When your body can’t function at its optimal levels the side effects can be terrible– think yo-yo-dieting, mood swings that can lead to depression, stress, lack of self-love, illness, digestive issues, skin irritation, inflammation, and chronic fatigue.
Very few people offer real, honest, nitty-gritty education on weight loss, especially the diet side of it. I think that’s why the word “diet” has such negative connotations. Think about it– all these “weight loss gurus” on Instagram, Facebook, with their own blogs… they don’t really tell you what to eat or why, just that you need to eat less and buy their workout and meal plan program. While there are, of course, a few out there who do really know what they’re talking about… most can’t offer you true information about what you should be eating and WHY.
Why do you need carbs? Why do you need fat? Why do you need protein? Why is fiber so important? How much food do you actually need at one sitting? How does each of those macronutrients contribute to your hormones, brain, and metabolic cycle working properly? How is the way that you eat affecting the way you feel and the energy you have in your body? The person you’re turning to for your meal plans should be able to answer every single one of these questions, in-depth. Otherwise, take all their recommendations with a grain of salt, so to speak.
A mindset has been created around the word diet for you… and it’s wrong. Unfortunately, when most of us hear the word “diet” we think of small, tasteless meals and weeks of eating the same boring, lack-luster food. To many of us, that seems to be the only way we think we’re allowed to eat when trying to lose weight, and that usually goes along with a very strict calorie count and lots of cardio up until a special event comes along. THIS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE! That is the problem with the word “diet.” Forget that definition and the way you think you have to feel and be when “on a diet”.
Really, diet just means the types of foods you eat. The term “going on a diet” means you’re only going to eat certain foods for a certain amount of time… usually, until you reach a goal weight for a special event. But then… what usually happens? You go back to your old way of eating. What we eat and how our bodies look and feel is directly related. Your diet should be full of color, flavor, a plethora of different foods, and lots of joy! If you eat well and work out consistently for the rest of your life (and stop crash-dieting) you won’t have to “go on a diet”, your lifestyle will keep you healthy, lively, and happy!
There’s this narrative floating around that fit, healthy people are crazy and only eat raw broccoli and boiled chicken and just suffer through hating the food they eat. This is wrong and misleading on so many levels, but unless you know better, you’re going to agree. This is where your health “guru” should step in and fill you in on the secrets of roasting delicious vegetables, the wonder of a crisp, cold apple, and how to cook your chicken so it’s perfectly moist… but, unfortunately, this is usually where a special “healthy” meal replacement high protein shake is suggested for consumption.
We’re told to drink special shakes that taste like peanut butter fudge or raspberry cheesecake… we’re being told to eat something that gives us the illusion of eating unhealthy food… and that doing this will make us healthy and fit! We’re being sold a band-aid… something you can mindlessly eat without learning why you’re eating it and how to get healthy nutrients from a plate of food. It’s a meal substitute that tastes like all the things we should be learning to enjoy in moderation, but instead, we’re teaching ourselves to have a peanut butter and chocolate fudge shake every day.
While that might seem all well and good, there’s a reason a lot of the people who join this type of “diet” regress and put all the weight back on:
You’re not learning to build a healthy relationship with real food.
You’re not learning how to create well balanced, and delicious meals.
You’re not learning why protein is important and where to find it in whole foods.
You’re not learning to appreciate your body and all it does for you.
You’re not learning why processed foods are terrible for your health.
You’re not learning how to incorporate those indulgent meals into a lifestyle you want to live.
You’re simply not learning.
How can you change your life to support your health goals if you’re not learning exactly how to do that?
Focusing on the “obsession” with unhealthy food and creating this “you can never eat this again” mentality sets you up for failure. Trying to make everything you eat taste like a chocolate brownie, even if it isn’t, is setting you up for failure.
We’re made to fear unhealthy foods and try to shun them from our lives…but then we’re told to make all of the healthy replacement shakes that we “should be using” taste just like those bad foods we shouldn’t eat! How confusing for the brain is that?! (And honestly… most–not all, but most– of those shakes are loaded with additives, fillers, and a whole bunch of stuff that just isn’t good for you anyway.) We’re essentially telling our brain to be terrified of certain things, then making the foods we should love taste like the bad foods we’re supposed to be afraid of… it’s bizarre. Our brains are amazing and can adapt really quickly– if we tell ourselves something over and over again, we eventually grow to believe it! But, what the heck is your brain supposed to do with that mishmash of “it’s not good for me but, wait, I can make something healthy that tastes like it’s not good for me so that’s actually healthy for me!” information?!
Nothing… your brain will learn nothing except to hunt for “healthy” brownies. If you look at it… essentially you’re just training yourself to crave more sweets and treats. When the day comes that you’ve run out of that fake healthy shake and you can’t find anything that tastes like candy but isn’t candy… you’re probably going to end up reaching for a candy bar. Why? Because, you haven’t detoxed from sugar dependency, learned how to be healthy, how to enjoy the flavors of real healthy foods, or why you should want to be healthy to take care of yourself, not just fit into a new dress.
Right from the get-go, we’re hearing “Food is bad” over and over again. The fear of food is continuously being forced down our throats, yet there’s never any explanation about how to find healthy food you love! Everything is about hacks and tricks to eating something that tastes like a treat… but never about why we need to eat certain foods!
FOOD IS LITERALLY THE BEST.
Food fuels our bodies.
Food nurtures the mind.
Food heals us from the inside out.
Food is essential for life, and should be enjoyed!
Focus on learning how to love good food– real, good food. Food that’s grown from the soil of the Earth, not made in a lab.
Now, don’t get me wrong! There’s a time and place to eat a dessert that you can enjoy with no guilt, and there’s a time and place for that sweet healthy replacement shake, too. The problem is in trying to make everything you eat taste like Willy Wonka designed it in his candy factory.
Find different ways to season and cook your favorite vegetables and you’ll begin to feel so dang good you won’t want a fake shake. You won’t just feel good because of the physical response the body will make- slimming down and giving you that healthy glow- you’ll also feel good because the brain will feel good! Our bodies are made to thrive on real, healthy foods. So, when we eat them our brain sends us feel-good signals like “Oh yeah! Can you feel all the nutrients flowing through our veins? It’s amazing, we feel AMAZING!” When our brains and bodies are feeling good… I mean, is there anything better? The confidence, optimism, and love you feel for yourself are overwhelming and beautiful.
More people need to feel this… and all it takes is a few weeks of cleaning out the cupboards, exercising, and sticking to a healthier way of eating. Make that a habit and enjoy all the incredible, beautifying, body-healing benefits for life– not just 90 days.
Looking for help in jump-starting your new healthy eating lifestyle? Contact Katie DiLauro today: firstname.lastname@example.org