I’m about to start a new 21 day eating program and, to be honest, it’s bringing up a bit of resistance. Today’s post digs into that topic of the diet mentality, along with a gentle reminder of why diets don’t work.
Let’s dive in.
By this stage you know that I’m no fan of dieting. So it’s with mixed emotions that, for the next 21 days, I’ll be following a rather strict eating plan.
For the past few years I’ve been struggling with some aspects of my health. Despite my “good” eating, exercise and sleep habits, I still often feel like I’ve been hit by a semi-trailer.
Much of this has to do with my gut health, or lack thereof. Technically speaking, there’s an imbalance in my microbiome and I quite possibly have intestinal permeability.
While that may sound a little concerning, it’s totally fixable. In layman’s terms, this condition is known as “leaky gut” — a rather evocative description that you may have heard of it around the internet.
In addition to my weak digestive system, there seems to be something going on with my thyroid or adrenal glands. TBD.
Long story short, I’m following a medically advised eating program that eliminates foods that might trigger a negative response in my body. It’s not at all bad: lots of veggies, meat and yummy fats, which you know are right up my ally. But there are a few key ingredients that will be sorely missed, including:
- Wine & champagne.
- Cheese & yogurt.
- Bread & grains.
- Chocolate & coffee.
Objectively I feel ok about eating this way, but emotionally something has been coming up and I feel a little bit of resistance, a little bit of…meh.
I’ve been wondering why I have this hesitation, considering that:
- This eating plan is for a finite amount of time and for a very specific purpose. No one is saying I can’t ever have a grilled cheese sandwich ever again.
- I know that I’ll feel better when I have a break from these foods, because I know how my body reacts to this sort of thing.
So the answer has to be my history of dieting.
You may know that for many years I struggled with eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia & orthorexia (that last one is being obsessed with only eating the healthiest food). Sprinkled amongst these more serious conditions were regular rides on the fad-diet rollercoaster.
While I’ve finally been able to get off that ride, there is a residual fear of food restriction.
This is why I need to reframe the next 21 days, and view this eating plan as the next step in becoming my healthiest self (something that traditional diets do NOT do).
I’m going to focus on everything that I can have, which is really an abundance of delicious food, and I’m going to remind myself that this is simply a three week process of healing. With that mindset I know that willpower won’t be necessary, deprivation won’t be felt, and at the end of this process I’ll feel so much better than when I started.
I wanted to bring up this topic with you, incase you have a similar case of diet mentality, and if the idea of starting a new “healthy eating plan” feels a little overwhelming. If so, I totally understand and I hope that you can also find a great way to “reframe” the situation.
And, if you do still dabble with diets and excessively restrict your calories, please remember this:
Diets make you gain weight…
Diets help you lose weight quickly because they restrict calories. At first this works, but after a few days or weeks your brain notices that you’re not getting enough food and it starts to panic. This triggers your hunger hormones (leptin & ghrelin) to team up and protect you from starvation. Their solution is to lower your metabolic thermostat so that you burn less energy, which causes you to store the few meagre calories that you ARE eating as protective body fat. This consequence can be short term or long term.
Diets ruin your stomach…
Restricting certain healthy foods, or eating science-lab food, alters how your stomach and digestive system function. There’s a natural, chemical process to this eating and digesting thing. Mess with this process too much and you’ll end up spending date night telling your significant other about your leaky gut.
Diets mess with your mind…
Many women that I speak with have some kind of struggle with food; whether that’s worrying about weight gain, or feeling concerned that they’ll be judged (or judge themselves) for eating certain foods. Diets exacerbate this mentality, causing you to swallow a hefty dose of guilt and shame with every bite you eat.
Diets kill your willpower…
You only have a certain amount of willpower each day; it’s highest in the morning and decreases as the afternoon wears on. Every decision you make throughout the day taps into your willpower reserve; from food to fitness, or deciding keep your cool during a particularly frustrating conversation, choices zap willpower. Diets zap that willpower doubly fast, which makes you irritable, exhausted and with a hand in the cookie jar after dinner.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
I hope this gentle reminder helps you ditch the diets and get back in the driver’s seat of your own health.
Please let me know what you think of today’s conversation, by leaving a comment below.