Wouldn't it be awesome to just eat normally? No guilt, no shame, no need to police every bite you put in your mouth, no need to "go off the rails" because there are no tracks.
We hear it all the time: "it's a lifestyle, not a diet". It sounds so quaint and charming, but it's also super friggen hard and vague. And wait a minute, if I can eat whatever I truly want, does that mean I can just eat cake and chips all day?
How do we let go of the diets that aren't serving us, without going too far in the other direction?
Some may feel this "lifestyle approach" is not really for them. They might prefer the structure and rules of a diet and appreciate the long lists of "do's and dont's". I often have people tell me "if someone just came to my house, cooked the food and put it in front of me, I would be totally fine!" My rebuttal almost always includes a reference to Oprah; a billionaire, with amazing chefs, personal trainers and she still struggles, because none of those things come from within her.
Maybe healthy eating isn't even on your radar and you're content with all the not-so-good foods because they are convenient and taste too good to let go of. Or maybe you’re already on board, but don’t know exactly where to start. We often have some idea of what we should do, but how on earth do we change 20, 40, 60 years of bad habits?
Whether you care too much or not enough or you're bouncing between the two, 10 times a day; it is absolutely possible to move you forward, to a place where food is a wonderful, tasty part of your life, but it doesn’t consume you, it simply makes you feel good.
The unfortunate truth is that nearly every industry around, but most of all the food and diet industry, often prefer consumers to be confused, misinformed and fight about who is right and who isn’t. (So let’s not do that, okay? Deal.) At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we disagree, what matters is that we each do what works for us, and maybe even drop the labels.
I like to look at the evidence. I spend time checking scientific studies, guidelines, meta-analysis’, and expert opinions. I will even go to the lengths of scrolling through every comment of a recipe, looking for evidence of greatness, before committing to the recipe. The challenging thing about this really awesome evidence-based approach is that, in practice, none of that science was performed on you. Nutrition science is also incredibly flawed in it's own right. What works for one person doesn’t work for another, and that’s why there hasn’t been one magic bullet diet out there to fix everyone. One of my hopes is to make each of you, your own scientist. Maybe you're not sure if breakfast is all its hyped up to be, then try it and see what happens.
The point is, if there is something food-related (I wouldn’t take this same approach to supplements) that you are unsure about, try it and feel it.
The foundation of the non-diet approach, for a lifetime of good eating habits and a better relationship with our food is this: do what feels good.
The real key is to NOT put your sole focus on weight loss, or 'being healthy' or even preventing disease. It's not that these things should be ignored, but they are by-products, side-effects and benefits of eating well. They should not be your motivation for eating well. There is no immediate gratification when we eat a crappy salad because we feel we "should" to reach our goal of preventing disease, or even losing weight. We need to wait too long for those things to happen. But, if we make a habit of eating only yummy salads, with the sole focus of feeling good, the gratification comes while you are eating something that actually tastes good AND in the moments after eating. You may notice you don't feel heavy or sluggish and you have a pop of energy, maybe your bowel movements even improve within the day.
When we start to take this "feel-good-approach", things shift, healthy eating becomes easier and much more rewarding. It takes a bit of leg work and experimentation to find what works for you, but its worth it for a lifetime of good eating without guilt, shame or deprivation.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but its a great, and very important start.