The most healthy, lean, and fit people I know don’t ever go on “diets”.
Conversely, folks who have been overweight their whole life, or have disordered eating tend to be “on” or “off” a diet every other week.
In order to have a healthy relationship with food and have your body look the way you want it to, you need to implement lifestyle changes instead.
1. Don’t Get Hangry
Don’t deprive yourself of calories of essential nutrients like carbs and fats. When you severely restrict your caloric intake or remove carbs from your diet, it tends to trigger our drive to overeat. I’ve seen people have success with ultra low-carb diets or intermittent fasting (where you only eat in certain windows of the day). But for most folks, these types of changes are not long-lasting. Usually people go back to whatever they were doing before the “diet”.
2. Don’t Diet
I read Men’s Health religiously from age 12 to 18. Every month I remember being really excited to get the latest edition and reading it cover to cover within a few hours. Needless to say, I tried more than a few of the men’s health diets in my perpetual quest to get a 6-pack. I was convinced by Men’s Health and their amazing advertising that the “diet secret” I was missing was right before my eyes. But for me, and our clients at Village, nothing has worked as well as creating long-term lifestyle changes. The reason: diets are temporary, lifestyle changes and habits last.
3. Don’t put your body in a box
Look, I know you weighed 118 pounds in high school. Likely, you won’t ever weigh that much again. And that’s ok! If you got down to that weight, you might not be very healthy or look the way you want anyways.
Also, don’t compare yourself to others. You have a unique body shape and make-up.
4.) Listen to your hunger
This is a tough one for me. Take a few moments to pause during meals to check in and see if you’re still hungry. Just last week, Nicole and I were out to dinner together. I ordered Osso Bucco and it was delicious. I was about ¾ done with my meal and I was full. I had a moment of introspection where I thought “I’m not going to eat this tomorrow, so I might as well eat it now.” Then, I realized what was happening. I was only eating because I didn’t want to “waste” my food. I wasn’t hungry or enjoying my food any more. Listen to your hunger. Stop when you just start getting full.
5.) Enjoy The Experience
Eating food should be pleasurable. If you find you are always scarfing down your food in a ravenous frenzy, stop. Take time to notice the texture, taste, and feelings you have as you’re eating.
When you really enjoy the experience, you’ll find you get fuller, faster and really enjoy the food you are eating.
6.) Challenge the notions of “Good” or “Bad”
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re “good” for eating well on a given day or “bad” for deciding to have dessert one evening. When you start to think like this, your brain will begin to crave the “off limits” foods. This is also not a fun way to live.
Personally, I love a good cheese burger. The Back Abbey in Claremont makes my absolute favorite burger in the world. If you know of a better one, I’d love to hear about it.
I don’t often eat cheese burgers, but they are by no means “off limits”. In fact, no food is “off limits” for me. I strive to eat really healthy most days and most meals because I like the way it makes me feel and it lines up with my beliefs and values. But, I enjoy foods that are not as healthy, like a Back Abbey burger infrequently, slowly, and mindfully, and in moderation.
7.) Don’t eat crappy unhealthy food
Look, like I mentioned, I’m all about a good burger. But don’t eat bad food just because it’s around. Things like your kids Goldfish, store-bought cake (bleh!), cheap hamburgers, and $5 pizza. Unless you really enjoy one of the above things, save your “splurges” for things you really enjoy.
If you love really good dark chocolate, get yourself some and eat it in moderation and really slowly. If you love amazing ice cream, go to Salt and Straw in Santa Monica for a special occasion and get whatever you want. Instead of eating out a few times every week at a fast food place, save up for a nicer date once a week and eat whatever you want.
8. No Comfort Food
I’m not talking about mac and cheese. I’m talking about using food as a means to find comfort, distract from problems, resolve issues or deal with anxiety. Although food seems to fix these feelings temporarily, it is by no means a permanent fix.
9. Think long-term
The way you eat most of the time, should be setting you up for the future. Food should fuel and help create the lifestyle and body you want to have. You don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. But you should strive for consistency most of the time when you are eating.