Crash dieting used to feel like my full-time job.
Every time I tried to give notice, the insecurity over not trusting myself enough around food stopped me.
It felt familiar. Crash dieting was second nature.
And so were my self-doubt and dissatisfaction with my body.
I tried every crash diet, pill, potion, and cleanse whathaveyou over the nearly two decades of my toxic relationship with food and my body.
So, I tried something radical (for me): I quit crash dieting.
What do I consider ‘crash dieting’? Anything extreme – as in the polar opposite of whatever way a person may have been eating – and with strict parameters (i.e. cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and lemon ‘cleanses’; celebrity juice diets, ‘detox’ pills/shakes, etc.). I’ve worked with clients who would rage over not losing weight fast enough when they lived on celery juice Monday through Friday — and then drank bottomless glasses of merlot and the brunch buffet all weekend long. There is no need to do all of that black and white restrictive crap, and it is the one way I would say you will likely not keep the weight off if you continue your relationship with food in this way.
What I learned when I (finally) quit crash dieting
I get to eat what I want without feeling any guilt.
When you don’t have restrictions placed on your diet left, right and centre, it gets much less stressful when you decide to let yourself eat!
I spent so many years worrying about whether the food had the right amount of carbs, sugar, fats, and macros that it took all of the joy out of eating.
Deciding to eat was like solving a puzzle when half the pieces were missing.
Frustrating AND boring.
When I stopped restricting myself, I also stopped shaming and depriving myself. Deprivation is fuel to the crash diet and food-obsessed person’s inner motivation fire.
Without all the self-policing, I could focus on listening to my body and becoming more in touch with what I could eat rather than what I ‘shouldn’t.’
When you take strict restrictions out of the equation, your urge to punish yourself for your food choices is no longer.
I save money even though I am eating more.
I was a total sucker for energy drinks, diet snacks, and protein bars, not to mention diet pills, caffeine, and fitness-enhancing supplements.
These “health” products were slimming down my bank account and doing nothing for my well-being.
I soon discovered that eating whole foods was more satisfying and beneficial to my overall fitness level. And because I was eating healthy, flavourful foods like healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and natural protein sources, I found that when I did try to eat an odd “energy” bar, I was paying £2 to eat something that tasted like plastic and probably contained it too!
Similarly, a piece of pie or cake for dessert tasted so much better. I appreciated the richness and flavour of the items I ate without eating processed foods.
I realise that I am “addicted” to certain foods.
I began to recognise my true hunger cues, and my body could lead me to a better understanding of my appetite and how to feed it. It made me understand that I was truly addicted to certain processed foods. I now know that some foods trigger me to eat more and fall into a food ‘rabbit hole. For years I thought that food addiction was bullshit. It’s not. I have read lots of research, and I have worked with people who have successfully changed their bodies and life by cutting out foods that ‘trigger’ them, and I know from my own experience.
So many foods on the market today have gone through a ton of testing and trials to make the perfect combination of salt, fat and sugar. For people who are reliant on these types of foods for emotional ease, it can be damaging to eat these products. Highly palatable and processed food is designed to make you want more, and studies show that some people have lower dopamine receptors in their brains, which fire off while eating these foods and lead to the compulsion to eat more or binge on these specific foods.
I stopped being at war with my body.
An arbitrary crash diet is an anchor for shaming ourselves. When I ceased to shame myself in my relationship with food, I also stopped the cycle of body negativity.
A new cycle of rational and healthy give and take begins when you quit crash dieting.
Eating what my body needs for health and vitality stopped the mental battle I was living through while engaging in restrictive crash dieting.
I stopped continually being in a bad mood which I attributed to two things 1) Arbitrary food guides were no longer screwing with my digestion and bodily functions, and 2) I stopped shaming the hell out of myself for not being compliant with a wackadoodle diet plan.
It is incredible how much better you will see your body when you stop punishing yourself for not putting it through unnecessary hell.
Self-compassion is something with which most of us struggle. You’re only human, and there are enough causes in life to get passionate and fight against; your body doesn’t need to be one of them!
I lost some weight (and it has stayed off)
Emotional and physical weight can be present in our lives in equal measure. When I quit my crash diet cycle and began embracing self-compassion, it enabled me to shift weight without conscious effort.
As an eating psychology coach who utilises neurolinguistic programming, I can tell you that when you spend life thinking negative statements, you will also spend your time fighting against those thoughts and getting the very thing you don’t want.
When you say to yourself, “I can’t eat sugar,” your mind will only hear, “eat sugar.” While you think you are commanding yourself into not to do something, you are talking yourself into obsessing over the very action you are trying to avoidWhat I learned when I (finally) quit crash dieting. #health #eatingpsychology #coach #motivation Click To Tweet
Enjoy and appreciate your body every single day that you have it. Feed it with love and compassion.