There’s No Need for Dieting

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Dieting stinks. In some cases, you have a list of foods you can’t eat or a limited list of things you can eat. There are others that require you to track everything that goes into your mouth and record calories or points or units or exchanges. Others require you to eat pre-packaged foods or starve yourself by only eating a meal replacement instead of real food. Regardless of the method, dieting simply isn’t fun. It also isn’t sustainable because that’s not how we were built to eat.

I work with a lot of people that feel they need someone to tell them what they should and shouldn’t eat. What I’ve discovered is that most people are naturally healthy eaters and can intuitively decide what is right for them to eat. I’ll admit that there is a percentage of the population that simply does not understand good nutrition. However, once they have the knowledge, they have all the tools they need to succeed in reaching a healthy weight. When asked, I’m guessing that most people would agree that 32 ounces of regular soda every day isn’t a good food choice. They know about shopping around the edge of the grocery store and they understand that processed foods aren’t a good choice. So why is eating right so difficult and we need to “go on a diet?”

For many, dieting can become a crutch. If you don’t eat right, you can blame the diet. It’s too hard to stick to, it’s too restrictive, the food doesn’t taste good. Ultimately, what you put in your mouth is your choice. If you eat too much fast food, eat more real food. If you eat too many sweets, cut them back or out completely. If you simply eat too much, decrease your portion sizes. It’s in our biology to know how to eat intuitively; you just need to start trusting yourself.

To eat intuitively, just keep these few questions in mind:

Are you really hungry right now? (You could be under stress, bored, thirsty or in an environment where you’ve been conditioned to eat.)
If you’re hungry, is what you’re about to eat a good choice? (Use your own knowledge and wisdom here.)
If you’re hungry and you’ve made a good choice, then are you taking too much food? (Would you be embarrassed to have someone else look at your plate right now?)

Now, everyone’s body is different. No one can really say “This is the best diet for you and will help you lose X pounds.” There’s simply too many variables. Some of us don’t tolerate some foods well, for example, and we should eliminate those from our diet. Other than taking an expensive blood test, really the only way to know what’s right for you is to experiment and listen to your body. If wheat products tend to give you stomach problems, then cut them out for 30 days to see if they improve. If they do, then don’t start eating wheat again. Want to build lean mass? Then eat more protein but NOT milk if you’re lactose intolerant. Find something else that works well for you.

It takes a little time but learning what foods are best for you and eating in a pattern that’s right for you will allow you to have a much happier and healthy relationship with food. You’ll no longer fear it and dread meal times but, instead, enjoy eating as it was meant to be.

Photo credit: Patrick Feller / Foter.com / CC BY

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