Who said you must lose weight to be healthy? They were dead wrong. It’s time to realize that you must get healthy in order to lose weight, not the reverse. The diet mentality doesn’t work because it offers false hope for losing weight quickly and permanently, often using recommendations that are boring, restrictive, and unsatisfying, if not downright unhealthy. And chances are, if you’ve been on a diet at some point in your life, you’ve lost and regained the same amount of weight over and over.
A newer and better eating plan isn’t just around the corner; it’s been programmed inside you since your birth. You have just ignored its warnings and messages all this time. Food is nutrition that your body needs in order to survive, but eating can also be an enjoyable journey into what makes you tick. What you need is a sustainable way of nurturing your body by learning to listen to your body’s own hunger cues. Then you can make your peace with food, once and for all.
In the last post, I gave you a glimpse into my philosophy about healthy eating: diets don’t work because they make unrealistic promises based on false hopes, and deprivation always backfires in some way. What does work for health and weight management is to adopt the right attitude about food. To do that, you have to throw out your guilt and look at food for what it is: both necessary nourishment and a source of pleasure. The 3Rs are great for taking this knowledge and turning it into positive action.
RECOGNIZE. What’s going on?
Eating is a necessary biological function, so it makes sense that the mind-body connection is very pronounced when we look at food, weight, eating, and nutrition.
Remember the fullness rating scale? This is a great tool for recognizing the connection between body and mind, from both ends of the scale. Before you eat, take a moment to honestly rate your fullness.
- If your rating is a 7 or 8, you’re not truly hungry. Think about what other factors might be triggering your urge to eat. Are you feeling stressed, bored, nervous, or overtired? Eating won’t solve any of those problems. Allow yourself to get to the bottom of what you’re feeling instead of masking the emotion with food.
- If your rating is very low, pay attention. Use the fullness scale throughout the day so that you become aware of your body’s hunger cues. You can avoid overeating by answering your body’s need for nourishment before you reach the desperate 0 or 1 on the scale.
When it’s time to eat, don’t be afraid you’ll overdo it. Your body comes equipped with a portion-size measurement system! Look at your palm. Right there is the correct size of a healthy portion of meat. Curious about how much pasta to eat? Just look at the size of your fist. (No, it’s not that huge bowlful restaurants serve. Ask for a half order, eat part and take the rest home, or split one with a friend. )
REFRAME. How can you think about food in a different way?
One way to reframe your thoughts and actions is to ban the Food Police. Grant yourself a pardon and spring out of food prison—no parole necessary. Let go of all the unreasonable, guilt-causing diet rules.
- Being a “good” person doesn’t mean you can only eat “good” diet foods. And eating “bad” foods, like a piece of chocolate cake, should not propel you into feeling “bad” about yourself. When forbidden foods no longer exist, they will no longer have a hold on you.
- What if you suffer guilt because you’re a member of the “clean plate club”? Don’t let the thought of wasted food force you to eat. Instead, ditch the dinner plates and use a salad plate. You’ll visualize a lot of food but will be eating less than if you piled up a larger plate. You can get more food later if you’re still hungry, but you won’t overeat if you’re not. And as for that chocolate cake—studies show that your taste buds become neutral to the yummy taste in under five bites. You’ll get no added pleasure from finishing it just because it’s there. Make a new habit of sharing desserts.
In short, a healthy feeling of self-worth is unconditional; it has nothing to do with your food choice of the day. Please take a more loving, forgiving, and compassionate view of yourself and realize that you are doing your best to stay healthy by eating healthy foods as well as foods that you enjoy. Give yourself permission to feel satisfied and happy.
RECLAIM. Enough talk, people. Take action to regain the health that you deserve.
Knowing that you can enjoy what you like removes much of the drama and negative self-talk around food and eating. Reclaim your health by adopting these ideas:
- Your body needs food. Eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you’re full. Just have a reality check with your body about your level of hunger to be sure that you are within a healthy, comfortable range.
- Make sure that you like what you are using to nourish your body. Don’t eat what you don’t like. Deal?
It sounds simple, and it is. What’s hard is throwing out the old habits that have kept you trapped for so long. But it’s a worthy pursuit: You deserve the benefits of good health.
Need some help getting started? Call me to schedule a session to work on your nutrition—and your thinking—and get on the path to healthy food habits today! Call 212-686-0939 to schedule a complementary phone appointment. Explore how my 3Rs can help you look and feel your best—without the guilt.