Ever have that worthless feeling after you've caved on your diet? Feeling like you can't get your shit together? Feeling like giving up entirely? #dietfail
If you're not sure what a negative food association is, it's simply considering certain foods "bad" or "cheats" or "off limits." A perfect example is denying yourself carbs, or sugar. Obviously if you have a medical condition that requires you limit or avoid certain foods, that's a different story. But, convincing yourself that you must stick to a rigid diet void of foods you genuinely enjoy is a quick way to develop an eating disorder. This type of mindset is reason many people struggle with feeling guilty for indulging their taste buds, causing the yo-yo dieting cycle to continue.
Personally, I believe we have taste buds for a reason deeper than just a biological evolution to prevent us from consuming potentially lethal foods in the wild. It's spiritual in my opinion. Taste is a sensation to enhance our human experience, and it's unique to each individual.
Our individual taste is one reason why cookie-cutter diet plans fail to sustain the test of time. What satisfies my taste is likely different from yours, so it would make sense that if we're both given the same plan, we will experience different compliance.
So what do we do to stop feeling guilty?
#1 Be Kind to Yourself
Free yourself from unrealistic expectation that you have to follow a rigid plan in order to see results. Instead, try practicing mindfulness. When you reach for food, remind yourself that food is an energy source, like gas is for a car. You can choose a cheap gasoline and it'll work fine but your vehicle wont operate at optimum capacity. Or, you can choose a gasoline with an additive that enhances the function of your engine. Food isn't good or bad. It is simply somewhere on the spectrum of nutrient dense or nutrient devoid. You have the freedom to choose nutrient dense or not. You'll be showing your body love and kindness if you choose the nutrient dense option. But there is nothing wrong for wanting to taste a less nutrient dense food. As long as you stay within your calorie budget for the day (get your daily calorie budget here), your weight will remain unchanged. There is no need to feel guilty for blowing your calories on a night out. Enjoy your food, and make the next best choice when you get the opportunity.
If you're using food to cope with stress, know that you are not alone. Most people use food to comfort themselves. Just try to become aware of when you're doing it, and redirect yourself to a healthier coping strategy, like going for a walk, or taking a bubble bath. If you know you have this struggle, it's time to face it, and decide what you're going to do differently the next time it shows up. Then, execute.
#2 Under-consumption Causes Over-consumption
Binge eating is linked to under-consumption. Be honest and reflective with yourself. If you've been following a low calorie plan because your expectation is to lose 1 lb a week for several weeks, you might just need to shift your expectation. When hunger is out of control it can be a survival response of your body to prevent starving to death. Your body might be telling you it needs more energy. Don't feel like a failure because your body wants to restore hormonal balance. Instead, try a smaller caloric deficit. Typically I recommend 15-25% deficit from maintenance calories. Start with a 15% deficit, see how you feel and consider if you can sustain it long term. Ultimately if you're aiming to lose weight, you want to do it without becoming bitter and hangry. If your diet is making you feel like you have to completely ignore eating mindfully on a night out, then you're likely over-restricting yourself.
#3 Keep Moving
Exercise is crucial for mental health and stamina. If you're over-eating because of stress, a great stress reliever is exercise. It's as simple as a walk outside. Get some fresh air. Hear the birds. Appreciate the scenery. You cannot make up for a poor diet with exercise, but exercise is a tool to utilize for optimal health. Exercise boosts endorphins, alleviates anxiety, and improves self-esteem. Don't throw in the towel, just keep it moving, and results will come. Expecting yourself to be perfect is unrealistic. You're confronted daily with challenges. Some days your schedule doesn't go as planned. Flow with it and do the best you can.
#4 Mind Your Words
If you wouldn't say it to your little girl, don't say it about yourself. Be the Mother to your inner child and treat yourself with compassion. Don't bully yourself, especially over a substance that gives you life. Food sustains life. Eating food is good, and eating more food than usual is ok. Become aware of your triggers and how you cope, if it isn't making you feel good, then it's time to adjust your strategy.
Repeat positive affirmations and practice self acceptance. Visualize yourself happy, healthy, and never obsessing over food again. What would that feel like? What does that version of yourself look like? How does she make others feel?
#5 Mind Your Idols
It's likely that someone has a body that you wish your body looked like. But, what you don't know is how much time, dedication, and effort they put into looking that way. This is especially true of fitness models and social media. Comparison is thief of joy. If you're always comparing yourself to others then you don't have much time to love and appreciate what you got going on. After all, there's only one you. Also, you may be comparing yourself to edited images, amazing lighting, and photos taken after a period of specific training/dieting. I found this to be true in the fitness world. Many of the women I looked up to looked different in person because it's unrealistic to carry such a low body fat year round. Plus, can you really imagine the quality of life burdened by dieting? Don't torture yourself unnecessarily. Feel empowered to accept your body the way it is, and if you want to lose weight, do it with love and compassion.
If you're struggling with knowing where to start contact me for free diet advice.
Stay well and LOVE YOURSELF MORE