I’m pretty sure most people have tried dieting in some way. Sometimes a diet can be a blatant last resort quick fix, to get you shedding fat fast, whilst other times, a diet can come dressed in disguise with ‘clean eating’ or health slogans sprinkled on top. Whatever form of quick fix diet you choose to undertake, chances are it won’t leave you healthier, leaner or happier long term. I often wonder how are we still being led to believe that there is a miracle diet out there?
Rejecting the rules and listening to my body has helped me to eat a more varied diet without the fear factor or food guilt coming into play. I’m learning how to fuel my body and mind based on what I react well to, not what anyone else says is the right or wrong way to eat. I’m also understanding what adjustments I need to make if I have a particular goal in mind, whilst being mindful of how these nutritional tweaks make me feel.
Here are some of the ways I’ve been able to adopt a more balanced approach, which might also help you when it comes to rejecting the diet mentality.
Your intuition knows more than you do
I think the fear of letting your own intuition guide you with food, rather than following a diet, is probably one of the scariest things you can do if you have some form of issue surrounding food or feel particularly unhappy with your body.
Choosing to follow your intuition might initially mean eating a lot if you’ve been restricting in some way. It might also evoke feelings of confusion as you try and dispel the diet myths you’ve read or followed in the past. What do I even eat? When should I stop eating? Can I trust my body to make the right food choices?
- I found that giving myself permission to eat all foods from all food groups was the first step in learning to eat more intuitively.
- Next, I had to ensure I was consistently providing my body with a variety of foods. Variety is SO fundamental in this process because then you can learn what your body really needs.
- Without any set rules with food and with everything accessible in abundance, I was then able to start eating in line with what my body really wanted. I could ask myself questions when indulging like “Do I really want this?” and “Will this make me feel good?”. Or I’ll do the reverse and think twice before opting for a plain salad which wouldn’t really satisfy me.
Separate morality and your food choices
I became a better person when I started to engage with the fact that I am more than just my body. I am not a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person based on what I have eaten that day, nor does my body reflect what kind of person I am.
Be kind to yourself and remember that food is fuel. Make choices based on what will satisfy you, what you will enjoy and what will leave you feeling great after consumption! Make small lifestyle changes that will impact your health in a positive way, rather than dramatic rules that restrict your ability to listen to your own body. You’ll be a better person if you choose balance, over restriction and deprivation.
Let go of intensions or expectations
Try your best not to do something out of obligation or fear. If you say to yourself, “this week I am just going to eat ‘clean’, healthy foods” or “stick to X diet plan 100%”, chances are you’ve already set yourself up for failure. If you learn to eat based on your intuition and make smart choices throughout the week (as well as spontaneous guilt free ones when you feel like it), you’ll be able to sustain a far more balanced diet long term.
Quit compensating for your food choices
I still cringe when I hear someone say that they need to work off a meal in order to rectify any damage done by a pizza/burger/ice cream. Eating these things is 100% normal and healthy. You do not need to ‘burn off’ what you have eaten and you certainly don’t need to restrict the following meals to compensate a perfectly normal and balanced choice if you eat intuitively.
This form of self-punishment has been something I’ve always had to stop myself from doing, and don’t get me wrong, I still sometimes find myself reverting back to this mentality. Remember, by constantly thinking and vocalising that you need to make up for your food choices you are not only punishing yourself but also potentially influencing impressionable individuals around you, who might adopt the same habits.
Ask yourself what you really want and how you want to feel
Intuition is based on a feeling or desire so, next time you make a food choice based on something you’ve read or seen under the understanding that it is ‘healthy’ for you, ask yourself if you really want it. Sometimes making a more nutrient dense choice is what your body needs or craves, whilst other times, you may need to listen to your body and satisfy a craving with something that doesn’t carry or hold any prominent ‘health benefits’.
The satisfaction factor is such an important part of eating. Trust that if you allow yourself to enjoy the full experience of eating a variety of foods, you will be less likely to ‘binge’ on the foods you’ve been depriving yourself of and over-eat in the long run. It is also worth remembering that using food as a form of comfort is not always the best way to manage your feelings. Food can’t solve your problems so, ask yourself before you turn to food:
- Am I going to enjoy this?
- Do I really need this? (If I’m just ‘using’ food, can I find another way to distract and comfort myself?)
- Will this make me feel good?
At least 2 out of the above questions should ideally be a yes 😉
I’m only scratching the surface with this post and have so much more to talk about it when it comes to food and finding that better balance. I’d suggest starting off by sticking two middle fingers up to those setting rules and telling you what to eat. Go listen to the best resource you have out there – You and your body!