Think about it this way.
If you are a little kid and you see a plate of cookies on the counter..
What do you do?
You try and grab one!
When your Mom scolds you and tells you to wait until dessert, you immediately get frustrated and upset. All of your energy goes into wanting that one cookie and it's all you can think about at dinner.
You don't want any of the other food. All you want is that one chocolatey, delicious cookie.
When you finally get to have it, it's the most amazing moment and you're satisfied with just one or two. Then you go on your way and the cookies become a distant memory (at least, this is how my childhood played out).
But fast forward to today and here is what happens…
We try to diet based on our ingrained belief that we must look a certain way (see my post: Stop Trying To Be Perfect) so we restrict our foods in ways that we think will match how this thin, socially acceptable version of ourselves should eat.
We follow guidelines we find online, rules set by magazines, books, advice from friends and family, things we see on T.V, nutrition coaches etc.
But the problem with this is that we are using EXTERNAL forces to guide what we eat.
This means YOU, the number one person that can tell your body what it needs, when, how much and where to get it better than anyone else on the planet is being ignored and told to shove-off.
Of course, we've all seen that EXTERNAL forces can work for some people, but for the majority of us, it can only work for so long.
Personally being in the dieting industry from a young age and participating in the sport of bodybuilding, I've seen many girls (and guys!) go from extreme-lean, insanely fit to gaining 30 pounds in a matter of weeks post-show, all because they'd denied their body's natural instincts and hunger for so long.
I've even seen long-running competitors that didn't binge post-show, later quit the sport due to the rigidity and mental affects it had on them, admitting to feeling extremely restricted and unhealthy.
This same effect can be seen across dieters from every niche; keto, vegan, atkins, paleo, intermittent fasting etc. They are all forms of restriction in their own way and unless it's a lifestyle you feel GREAT living and can carry on with for life without feeling restricted, you may want to reconsider what you are doing (nothing against it if you can, that is fantastic!)
(Ex. if eating a certain way is causing you to put food up on a pedestal and think about your next meal all day long, then that may be a sign to change what you're doing!).
When we diet, we deny our body the innate ability to tell us what we REALLY need, nutritionally, physically and mentally.
In simpler terms,
The number one reason we binge or eat excessively is because we DENY OUR CRAVINGS.
This word has been given such a bad wrap.
When I used to get cravings, I went to war with myself. I would do everything imaginable to fight off these evil, self-sabotaging thoughts.
I would chew gum all day long, drink a huge glass of water before meals, stuff myself with low-calorie vegetables or protein shakes, drink tea, coffee, diet coke, eat all of my meals at once then fast for the rest of the day, pass-up social outings with friends or family, eat in a separate room than anyone eating a food I strongly desired..etc.
But none of it EVER worked long-term.
(If this sounds like you then you might want to hear what I have to say next!)
I struggled for years trying to figure out why I couldn't control these monstrous craving that were occurring more and more often. As I said in a previous post, I tried diet after diet, thinking “THIS IS IT!” But again, the cravings would soon return and I'd be back to my old ways.
So after much frustration and resentment towards myself and my lack of willpower…I decided to do something totally crazy.
I gave into my cravings.
Let me tell you, when you give into your cravings and hand-over the reins to your body, things get a bit crazy (at first).
You might eat brownies for the whole day, you might binge and eat your entire pantry, you might order 5 pizzas just for yourself or eat a gallon of ice cream.
This could go on for days, weeks or maybe even months.
BUT if you stick it out and put weight-loss aside during this period (YES it's hard but you MUST do it)
…Something magical happens.
- The foods you were once OBSESSED with become more ordinary, they are no longer as exciting as they once were because you can eat them everyday.
- Cravings for unhealthy foods will slowly diminish (maybe not completely but to a way more manageable level).
- True cravings start to come through. This means you'll start to hear what your body ACTUALLY wants and needs at that time. It will be combination of both seemingly “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods( although I hate labelling, but I'll get into that in another post!) Cravings become your guide and you eat based off INTERNAL forces.
- You eat a balanced diet. You may begin to eat less or more based off where your body is currently at and your weight will begin to balance at a healthy point.
- Weight itself becomes less important because it isn't fluctuating all the time and it's not difficult to remain at a healthy weight for your body.
- You will enjoy foods more and be more satisfied after meals because you are eating EXACTLY what your mind wants and meeting the nutrient needs your body desires.
- Cravings become your friend.
When you get to this point in your journey, it's an amazing feeling.
To be able to go out with friends and enjoy a meal without counting and stressing over each calorie is a win in itself. With all of the food thoughts and stress gone from your mind, it opens up HUGE space to be able to work on other goals and ambitions.
I'm not even kidding, when I was obsessed with my weight and food 24/7, there wasn't any room in my brain to focus on any other tasks. I'd always put everything on the back burner and say “I'll do it later, one I've achieved my fitness goals.. and I feel happy with where I'm at.”
BUT THAT DAY NEVER CAME AND NEVER WILL.
You need to give-up on the idea that achieving your fitness goals will make everything better.
It's like running on a treadmill and expecting to get somewhere outside the treadmill.
IT JUST DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT.
If you keep doing what you're doing then you'll keep getting the same results you've always got.
I am currently writing this post before work, as I did not have to wake-up and worry about my breakfast or what I'm going to pack for lunch and snacks today. I am able to share this information with you BECAUSE I let go of my hold on food and body perfection. I feel confident writing this although I'm not shredded and lean as I'd once believed I had to be to share nutritional advice.
I am at a healthy weight, eating healthy, loving myself and that is all that matters.
Giving into my cravings as crazy as it sounds, changed my life.
It gave me back my life. You can do the same. All you have to do is start.
Eat a cookie, or a slice of pizza, or cake, or a muffin, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, whatever you're craving right now in this moment and go from there.
That's all it takes to start your journey to a less food-focused self .
Now get ready to start REALLY LIVING.