Deciding that I need a little help with weight loss or eating healthier should be as simple as deciding it. However, I have found it is anything but simple. With all the options out there for diets the choices are endless.
I always research (in the little time that I have) the diets I am thinking of trying and will find positive and negative reviews, and success and failure stories for each. Picking a diet to follow usually leaves me excited for a minute and then uncertain. Often, I feel that maybe I made the wrong choice. This uncertainty leads to dissatisfaction, non-compliance, and an image of inconsistency.
With all the options available to me I feel overwhelmed by the simple decision to make a positive change in my life. So is there a solution to the mystery of the perfect diet? Does one way of eating really beat out the rest?
After years, 18 to be exact, of trying every diet out there, I believe I have the answers to those questions ☺. I no longer need to feel indecisive when I want to change my eating habits or my body. I no longer have to second guess my decision, sit in limbo while I am trying to figure out which diet is best, bounce from trainer to trainer to see whose philosophy works best, or spend hours cooking in order to make meals for my family and separate ones for myself!
“Eating well is a form of self-respect.”
Let me clarify some of the most “on trend” (that should tell you something about these ways of eating right there) diets right now:
Within each of these, one can also adopt additional approaches to reach a certain goal. They include:
I am just scratching the surface, but you get the point…there are options within options and subcategories within subcategories.
All of the diets are viable options. They all have research supporting and disputing them. This makes none of them perfect and none of them right or wrong. This is why choosing an option and believing it is absolutely the right one is so overwhelming for me!
“Too many choices can overwhelm us and cause us not to choose at all.”
~ Sheena Iyengar
As I see it, regardless of the diet I choose there are 3 problems with all of them:
Being told to give something up either brings out the rebel in me or elicits fear. Hearing ‘NO’ almost always makes me think “oh yeah, I’ll show you”! If the rebel does not come out, then I feel fear. I get scared of the unknown and shy away from the uncertainty of what to do in new territory. I think we all have a little bit of a rebel inside of us and feel most content within our comfort zones.
As much as I want to follow the guidelines of a particular diet because I have a certain goal in mind, being told ‘No’ makes me really want whatever it is I can’t have. Although I am becoming accustomed to focusing on what I want, when I’m told not to do something it becomes difficult for me to follow through.
If I want a muffin for example, there are plenty of ways I can make it or buy it to be appropriate for any diet or macronutrient ratio. However, looking for specific words or lack thereof (for example sugar or eggs) in a recipe or on label puts those words in my head all the time. Then instead of focusing on what I want, I am focusing on what I don’t want, making it almost impossible to stop thinking about them.
I also find that when I choose an elimination plan I don’t ease my way in. Instead I adopt an ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude, binge the night before I start, and immediately stop eating certain things. This is a huge change and I find it extremely difficult to sustain.
Labeling the way that I am eating is another problem I see with choosing a plan or diet. I for one do not like to be label as anything. I am just me. Call me thin, fat, young, old, fun, judgemental, etc; I will either rebel against these labels or try and embody them 100%. Yes, these may describe me some or most of the time, but they do not define me. I feel the same way about meal plans.
Being ‘vegan’ to me means that I can never have eggs or dairy, so I’m essentially putting myself in a box. It makes me feel like there is no give. It’s black and white with no flexibility or room for error. I’m right or wrong, on or off, good or bad. I either succeed or I fail.
Words like eliminate, exclude, plan, diet, and tracking immediately make me think ‘temporary’ or ‘short term’. When I think about the “trending” diets I almost automatically look for a start date. I begin counting down the days until it’s over and I can “eat normally” again. Approaching food as a temporary fix sets me up for failure from the start.
What if I take a different approach? How about I remove the labels, remove the timeline, and remove eliminations. How about I stop forcing myself to eat foods that I just don’t like. How about I eat for energy and create a lifestyle that is sustainable.
The thing is any food plan is manageable and sustainable if I take small steps to progressively adopt it into my life.
In my experience (after trying all the options, and I do meal all), the BEST diet is when I choose something I can see myself doing for a long time.
Healthy habits, food choices, and maintainable weight loss for healthy living comes down to what I am willing and able to do consistently. It’s about creating my own boundaries with food based on what makes me feel the best inside and out. After all, as moms, isn’t this what we want to teach our children? Isn’t this what is most important? Isn’t this how we can show them how to be patient and dedicated to an outcome?
This is not to say that every day will be easy, or that every day I will eat as well as I had planned. It also does not mean that when I have athletic or physique goals I won’t implement some actual diet strategies.
It means that a realistic, healthy, and sustainable “diet” that I am happy to enjoy with my family, and will get me to and keep me in a happy healthy place, is to take away all the rules and listen to my heart.
Forget about restrictions, forget about measuring. Simply listen to my body, eat when I am hungry until I am satisfied. Slow down and taste my food. Eat when I have a craving and stop when I think the next bite will make me feel bad about myself. Be present with my body and my mind around food. Eat in a way I am excited to share with and teach my children. Spend time making one beautiful meal rather than rushing through two different ones; one for me and another for my family. In short, eat intuitively.
This is the way I can be a HAPPY HEALTHY MOM, be a positive role model for my children, and be the best version of myself. All while helping those important to me to see food as a friend rather than an enemy.
I am sure you were hoping for a miracle answer here, a solution to your quest for the ultimate diet and how to achieve the body of your dreams. I have paid a lot of money to a lot of people on this quest. I am here to tell you the real truth about food; its purpose is to nourish our bodies, it is not a punishment, and it does not need to cause us stress.
The answer to what is the best diet is simple now. Focus on a positive relationship with food, eat intuitively, and do what feels right and sustainable.
“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.”
What is your preferred eating style? Have you ever given intuitive eating a try?
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and share your thoughts.
With love and gratitude,
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