This is the time of the year when my least favourite word, “diet”, becomes all the rage once more. It’s the beginning of the New Year and we (myself included) all want to take a few steps forward in a new direction. When it comes to food, this usually means starting a new diet or a popular cleanse. We start with the best of intentions, but get discouraged quickly…and we’re back to our old habits (good and bad). This is why I dislike the word “diet” so much. Why? It’s easy. If you’re on a diet, the only possible thing you can do is to go off that diet. It’s black or white. You’re on or off. Because being “on” the diet takes effort and willpower, you will eventually run out and you’ll go “off” it. Going off said diet is usually wrapped up nicely with feelings of guilt, stress, and feeling like you didn’t try hard enough.
I have no willpower. None whatsoever. The longest I can follow a cleanse is a week, and that’s only if I have someone to join me. So, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that you CAN make dietary changes without any willpower, guilt, or any of the other nasty feelings that come with dieting. It is possible, yippee!! I managed to (very slowly) change my diet from horrible (seriously horrible, all sugar and flour) to my current diet (I eat what I recommend) without any of these feelings. And I’ve helped many people do the same. Let’s break free from all forms of dietary stress! Now that’s a New Years Resolution I can get behind.
…now you’re probably either wondering how this is possible or questioning my sanity. Stay with me, I’ll give you the steps.
How to find your food freedom in 7 easy steps:
Stop following any type of diet. Right now. Immediately. We need to throw away all forms of rational, measured, thought-out ways of eating so we can start feeling our way to a healthy diet.
Set aside one meal per day where you sit down quietly or with friends/family and enjoy your meal. Stay relaxed, taste each bite, and chew properly. Put down your fork between bites and REALLY enjoy what you’re eating. Work up to enjoying every meal.
- If you can keep a food diary without judgment or counting (calories, fat, protein, etc), start writing down what you eat and how it makes you feel throughout the day. Keep track of your energy, mood, digestion, body symptoms (like pain), etc. If it’s not possible to keep track without judgment right now, that’s 100% okay. Skip this step for now.
- Experiment and start with breakfast. How does a high protein breakfast feel later in the day? What about a high carb (whole grain or starchy veggies)? Add a serving of veggies and/or an extra fruit to your day…how do you feel?
- Be kind to yourself when you crave a sugary treat or processed snack. Choose to eat these foods when you really want them (instead of unconsciously munching while feeling guilty) and notice how you feel later. Taste, chew, and enjoy these foods and you’ll find you’ll eat a smaller portion and crave them less and less.
- Pay attention to your cravings and learn what they’re telling you. Get some help from a practitioner if you’re struggling.
- Sit back and notice how your diet is changing and how you’re feeling. Any surprises? My diet is higher in healthy fat and starchy carbs then you’d expect for a nutritionist…but I feel fantastic when I eat this way.
Move slowly, one small change each month will make a HUGE difference over a year. Your way of eating will be different than anyone else; it’s as unique as your fingerprint. This doesn’t mean you have to eat a different meal than your family or partner; you just may need different portions of each type of food. Eating your uniquely healthy diet means your energy will be balanced each day, your cravings will be lower (and you’ll understand why they’re happening), and you’ll really ENJOY the food you’re eating. Pure, unadulterated food bliss. This is possible and the very first step is to throw away that dreaded word “diet” forever. It’s a small price to pay for your food freedom.