Weight is a very complicated issue in our society. On the one hand, we have an extremely influential media that puts forth a very narrow standard of beauty, one that screams “thin is in!.” In fact, this standard is often taken to dangerous extremes, as we see in countless heartbreaking cases of young women caught in the grip of anorexia and bulimia; particularly with girls who begin to obsess over their body image at earlier ages every year.
On the other hand, we cannot deny an obesity crisis in America. We are fatter than ever, mainly because of the kinds and amounts of foods we eat. It’s typical in this nation for one person to sit down in a restaurant to a plate of food that could feed three – and the food is typically processed, laden with the wrong kinds of fats, high fructose corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates. It’s a dangerous combination that is literally killing us by the hundreds of thousands.
And yet, there are people who are tired of being judged on what is solely their appearance, and want us to accept being overweight as normal and healthy.
So what are we to do? We are worried about our young girls having distorted body images and disordered eating. We also have a completely different kind of disordered eating, that is just as dangerous, where food is actively causing harm. Where do we strike the balance?
Diets Don’t Work
At least not as traditionally understood and practiced. UCLA, in 2007, conducted what they called the “Study of Diet Studies”. After tracking the eating activities of over 19,000 participants, can you guess what the researchers concluded was the biggest predictor of weight gain? It was if someone had been on a diet in the last couple of years! In other words, if you choose to diet, you are more likely to gain weight than someone who doesn’t. Also, 83% of people who lost weight on diets gained back MORE than they had lost.
This is because when we diet, we focus on all the wrong things – pounds on the scale, fake foods that are labeled “low fat version” or “sugar free” which are actually contributing to weight gain, but that is a whole other blog to be written. We focus on how fast the weight is or isn’t coming off. It takes weeks before you feel your clothes fitting a bit looser and months before you may fit into your old clothes. It becomes challenging at best to stay focused on a goal that seems so far out of reach, and all too easy to give up when the results don’t come fast enough.
Additionally, there are so many diets out there, it’s overwhelming! They often require some kind of deprivation that goes against your nature, and makes it truly difficult to stick with. Plus, the deprivation mentality actually works against your body’s efforts to do what’s in your best interests for survival!
Most of the diets out there won’t work for you, long term. That’s the bad news. The good news is there is one basic way of eating that will. All it takes is a little time, attention and support to figure out what that is for you.
What Food Can Do For You – Starting Now!
So, how can eating right give you that visceral sense of immediate gratification that we humans long for – you know, the kind of pleasure that so many of us derive from a few slices of pepperoni pizza, or that yummy pint of Ben and Jerry’s? Many of us believe that eating healthy is an experience of deprivation and sacrifice that requires perseverance, will power, and the ability to deal with feeling grumpy and unfulfilled.
Well let me tell you, if that’s been your experience, you’re not eating right. You’re eating wrong!
Making the switch to nutritional excellence and better choices will quickly lead to results you can feel in just a few days. You may initially go through a brief period of discomfort as your body eliminates toxins and works to restore balance. But once you really start figuring out what foods actually work for you and fuel your body properly, you’ll be amazed at how wonderful you can feel. You will derive the kind of pleasure from eating that doesn’t just linger on the taste buds. It’s the kind of pleasure that lasts from one meal to the next, and a peaceful knowing that you are improving your health in many ways. Cutting out the “junk” food and incorporating more healthy choices can help improve your quality of life. And isn’t that what it’s really all about?
Intuitive eating and Bio-individuality – learning to truly be in touch with what your body is telling you it needs does take a little time, practice, and support. No one way of eating is right for everyone. It is so important to figure out what works best for your unique body, lifestyle and circumstances. Once you get it down, you will realize that wholesome food is not only supposed to taste good, but it’s also designed to make us feel good. And not just when we sit down to eat it. It’s designed to give you a sense of well-being that lasts throughout the days, weeks, months and all the years of your life. If you shift your focus there, to what food can do FOR you instead of what food does TO you, you’ll find that you’ll be happy in your healthy body no matter what. Healthy Food = Healthy Body
So before you take that next bite, ask yourself this question…
Will this food support my immune system and contribute to my health and well being or will it take away from it? Once you begin to think about eating with that in mind, follow the 80/20 rule. If you are eating foods that support your health and wellness goals 80% of the time, then by all means eat that 20% junk food with gusto!!
You can make a simple start like this…
Instead of focusing on eliminating certain kinds of foods you might consider “junk food”, focus on adding in more healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and raw nuts. I like to call this “crowding out” the bad by adding in the good! You don’t have to give up anything at all right now. But I can guarantee you, that by adding in more healthy foods, you will have less room and desire for the kinds of foods that don’t support your well being. Give it a try!
Helene Geigelman CHC
Certified Health Coach