Ditch the Dieting…Eat For Life!

For almost all of my adult life, I’ve been on one diet or another.  From Atkins to Alkaline, No-Fat Food to No Food, I’ve pretty much done them all…along with some crazy creations I came up with myself.  The two dominating emotions I feel during dieting are misery (if I am “good”) and guilt (if I am “bad”).

Right now, I’m lean and happy and give in to my cravings.  So what diet am I on?  None.  I don’t do diets anymore and I never will.  I don’t think diets work in the long-term.  They have a long list of things we can’t eat, and we–as is human nature–tend to focus on what we don’t or can’t have.  The diet may go well for a while and the results get us excited.  But then there’s that dark side to will-power involving the foods we love.  There comes that time when we let down our guard or even say “to hell with this, I deserve it!” and we give in to the forbidden fruit…or rather, glazed donuts, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, sour cream and onion potato chips, cheesy fries, whatever favorite comfort food gets us salivating.

If we didn’t see those forbidden foods as “bad,” we might not feel the unrelenting gravitational pull to them.  We might only have had a little bit because “no big deal, I can always have more another day.”  But because these foods are a “no-no,” we tell ourselves “it’s just this once” and swear to “be good tomorrow.”  So we end up eating the whole thing…perhaps even additional “naughty” food until we feel sick to our stomachs and disgusted with ourselves.  A couple of these binges in a short period of time and we end up right back where we started on the scale.  Or worse.

It’s not the diets, per se, that are the problem.  It’s what goes on between our ears that messes everything up.  The incessant chatter, negative messages, and empty promises we tell ourselves beat us up psychologically.  Most people who follow diets have the mentality that food is evil, fats should be avoided, and deprivation equals weight loss.  These thoughts are draining, self-sabotaging, untrue, and set us up for a lifetime of food misery!  Here’s the thing about the four-letter word FOOD:  It’s not like other addictions or vices…we can’t eliminate it altogether.  We need food to live, so the only way to get recovery is to change our way of thinking about it and rebuild our relationship.

© 2010 Kristin Conroy

Food is a very important aspect of life because it gives us the energy to live and thrive, but it should not be the obsessive focus of life.  Food should enhance life’s experiences, not be looked upon as the devil in yummy clothing.  It’s essential to find a way of eating we can live with…not just for a week, a month, or half a year, but for a lifetime.

Since we are all unique and our bodies have different needs, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.  Trusting ourselves to find the right foods can be terrifying since most are accustomed to following what someone else has deemed the “correct” eating plan.  However, learning and experimenting and discovering foods on which you thrive is a very liberating and empowering experience.

Judging foods as “bad” or “good” is unproductive; the better perspective is knowing one food will nourish us more than another because of it’s ingredients, nutrients, and how it was grown or made.  When we eat well 80% of the time, choosing less nutritious food is OK.  It doesn’t signify failure.  We have to live our lives and sometimes that not-so-nourishing food is the only thing to satisfy us or is the only option available.  And that’s no big deal because we get right back to eating the way that supports our bodies and minds.

I encourage us to stop playing the role of life-time prisoners in the confines of a diet, and instead, become free citizens enjoying food as a part of life and reaping its rewards.  Doesn’t that sound like a great way to live?

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7 thoughts on “Ditch the Dieting…Eat For Life!

  1. Rosario says:

    I love your most insightful post. It is thought provoking to say the least and leads one to wonder- what then is the most effective way to eat? This always leads to the dichotomy of live to eat or eat to live and the emotional permutations or exacerbated exponentially.

    My first experience with holistic eating began in Italy, a country revered for its cuisine. However, its american interpretations initiate causality for obesity, pizza with mounds of cheese, pasta with mounds of cheese, meatball parmigiana with mounds of cheese, etc. The recurring theme here in the states with regard to italian cuisine is “more” and “cheese” please.

    These interpretations could not be farther from the veritable truth of authentic italian cuisine. But that isn’t my point. The real truth is that italians do indeed eat from the farm to the table. They also do not employ chemicals as methodology for keeping those pesky critters from their gardens. Nor do they inject, scientifically engineer, or hybrid, their livestock. The result is nature’s intended genre- abundant flavor, and no health risks imposed upon the consumer. Subsequently, I have always ate as much as I liked and lost substantial amounts of weight in shorter periods of time.

    How can that be, one should ask? I recommend posing that question to the FDA and the Coca-Cola Company. Our diets revolve around copious amounts of refined sugar in the forms of cup cakes, beverages, food preservatives, corn syrup/starch, whereas in Italy they do not. The restaurants here either fry everything or use butter as a central ingredient because it is cost effective and less labor intensive, and there exists little care for the health of the consumer.

    So caveat emptor! Let the buyer beware! Miss Kristin is correct to posture the holistic approach toward stuffing your face!

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    • Kristin Conroy says:

      Rosario,
      You make some great points. I’m glad you’ve had experience enjoying “pure food.” Sadly, most Americans have not. “Organic” is a relatively new, hot topic; our ancestors were eating local, sustainable, organic food at every meal and never thought twice about it. Ahhh…the double-edged sword of Industrialization, Progress, and Science. I hope at some point in our lifetime, we are able to see the Big Offenders lose business as the majority of the population refuses to ingest chemicals and takes responsibility for their own health.
      Kristin

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