The Struggle is Real: Reject the Diet Mentality and Establish your Own Nutritional Blueprint

Part 4 of 4 Part Series

Scenario: “Today is the day, I am going to brave the scale. I didn’t have a ton to eat yesterday, I worked out, I ate nothing high in sodium, my period is not coming, I went to the bathroom, and I am feeling slimmer than usual. I am going to do it…deep breath.” Boom! That number, that insignificant number on the scale can either make or break your day. It can influence your attitude toward your kids, toward your coworkers, your spouse and even your internal dialog. If the scale says something you like, your day is great and nothing can stop you. But in most cases, we allow this number to dictate how we eat, how we treat people and allow it to OBSESS our thoughts all day long. Sound familiar? You Are Not Alone!

Panic sets in. The allure of trying out the newest diet trend amplifies: The Keto Diet, The Paleo Diet, WW, Noom, The Start Here Diet, The Egg Diet, The Optivia Diet, The HcG Diet, The Water Diet and on and on we go. The programs are promising results, food freedom, reduced belly fat, eat all the fat you want and still lose weight. They offer “guidelines”, restrictions, and sometimes, “no exercise needed” approaches that will make all your dreams come true. Well, we are here to tell you what you already know—Diets Do NOT work!

We have ALL succumbed to the thousands of diets out there which typically end with the same result — weight gain and damaged body composition. Sure, you may have lost 10-100 pounds on a diet, and you may feel it was successful. But, if you are sitting here today, heavier than you were when you started your diet, then you know very well that NONE of them actually worked in the long run. In fact, you begin to realize that rebound weight gain is an actual thing! You know, gaining what you lost and then some. You feel defeated. Once again, does this sound familiar?

Awareness is key to any meaningful change.

Let’s first explain what we describe to many of our clients as the “Dieter’s Dilemma.” The Dieter’s Dilemma goes something like this. For whatever reason, you may feel panicked to lose weight, you go on a diet and restrict yourself of things you love or drop your calories so low that you are literally starving. The body responds and you start to see the number on the scale finally move in the direction you desire. Feeling good and encouraged by your efforts, this “honeymoon” phase continues. At some point, you start to realize that you are missing some things in your life. Cravings set in and “cheat days” commence. This begins to get out of control and more frequent, non-compliant, all-or-nothing attitudes take control and you are suddenly OFF the program. Promises to start on Monday, next week or next month begin to occur. Weight regain slowly starts to happen, your mind-space is taken up with defeated thoughts about your body and how you are not good enough and you brave the scale yet again. And, once again, the feeling of defeat sets in. Whether it is at home or at the mandatory doctor’s office weigh in, it creates that panic feeling you are all too familiar with. Your next thought, you guessed it. “I need to lose weight!” You then begin your Google search of the latest diet craze that resonates with you and start the cycle all over again.

Our goal at Inspire Nutrition is to STOP this cycle.

Our mission in reviewing these thoughts and common actions is not to cause you to feel defeated, it is to ENCOURAGE you. To let you know that you’re not alone, and we are here to help!! We will educate you on a more balanced approach in regard to weight management and nutrition that becomes a lifelong way of eating. It allows you to let go of the shackles that bind you to this negative and destructive pattern of thinking. You will finally find PEACE with FOOD!

Part of our mission is to help you discover where you may need some extra support, to reject the diet culture and to discover the formula that best suits YOU! After all, YOU are the only one out there. Your metabolism is different than your best friend, your cravings and genetics are different than your neighbor. So WHY are we trying to follow “programs” that cookie cut a way of eating that is unrealistic and couldn’t be further from what YOUR body actually needs?

We are here to tell you and empathize with you that this is NOT FAIR! It absolutely SUCKS to have to pay attention to what you are eating, to your sleep habits, to your water intake, to moving more and documenting every morsel you put in your mouth. We absolutely get it! But it is what it is. We are all dealt a certain hand with our genetics and life’s circumstances. The biggest and most crucial part of this process is ACCEPTING what you have to deal with. Once you accept it, you can move on to action steps to become your best self!

Helping to Break the Diet Mentality

To break the diet mentality, it’s important to recognize when it creeps in. Perhaps you have an evening where you ate more than you planned while watching TV. Maybe you planned on having an apple with peanut butter as an evening snack, but 1 tablespoon of PB became 2, and so on. Or, maybe you popped a large bag of popcorn for your kids to watch a movie, planned on not eating anything because you have adopted the “kitchen closed” boundary we suggested, but wound up eating most of the popcorn because it smelled so good.

No matter the scenario, these types of actions are almost always followed by feelings of guilt and the temptation of restricting the next day. Heck, you may know someone who intermittent fasts for 24 hours at least one day per week. What harm could that do? HMM.

The key here is to acknowledge WHY it (the binge) happened in the first place
The goal is to view this behavior/episode WITHOUT judgement and begin to look at it with more curiosity.

  • WHY did it happen?
  • Did you eat enough during the day, maybe you were actually hungry?
  • Did you plan your day out to set yourself up for success?
  • Is peanut butter one of those “trigger” foods for you that you truly need to watch?

Negative thoughts and physical discomfort can follow some of these actions and they can cause, what we call default thinking. The back-to-the-basics thinking of panic, restriction, negative self-talk that happens when you feel like you may have been “bad”.

To understand why you do what you’re doing, it’s CRITICAL to establish your WHY. This is the WHY your hard work is necessary. The WHY that gets you out of bed to go for a walk even though it’s so warm and cozy under your covers. This is the WHY that is your reason to comply. This WHY needs to be in your face at all times for you to succeed. To truly find your WHY, we suggest doing a brain storming activity with yourself, alone, in the quiet. Carving time out to do this will be one of the key factors in your success.

Begin with writing the word WHY in the middle of a sheet of paper. Circle it. From there, branch out to some areas where your efforts may be impacted when you are successful:

  • As a Dietitian, I may want to be an example to my clients;
  • As a Mom, I want to teach my children how to eat more intuitively and have a positive body image;
  • As a woman, I want to feel strong, confident, sexy and fit;
  • And, most importantly for me personally, from a genetic standpoint, I want nothing to do with what my family has had to deal with in their lives due to weight issues. We are talking depression, knee replacements, dysfunctional relationships with food and any a host of other side effects obesity can cause.

This WHY is not to be mistaken as judging my family members, it’s to arm myself with the knowledge needed to avoid these complications. I want to prove to myself that it can be overcome and to let my family know that I am here when they are ready for help! “Genetics Load the Gun, but Your Lifestyle Pulls the Trigger.” This is POWERFUL and true in so many cases. You will become the PROOF that this process works and can be an inspiration to others!

Just know this — You will NEVER be perfect!

Being “perfect” does not exist. There will be days where you fall off; where you are tired and crave sugar all day; where you didn’t stick to the dinner you planned and ordered out instead. This is going to happen! Please aim to be kind and gentle with yourself and just pick yourself up faster than you ever have before! That is the key to all of this! Remember, how will you ever find joy if you are not kind to yourself. Your brain truly believes whatever you tell it!

We encourage clients to give themselves “permission” to have the things you want. The beauty of this concept is it allows you to enjoy without overdoing. It places you in a mindset that there is no “bad” or “good” food. If it’s your birthday, have a piece of birthday cake! Be mindful. Use your senses and take your time eating these types of foods that you may have deemed “bad” before. This is so important so you can actually enjoy them! We all know the feeling of resisting something and then finally going bonkers and gulping down whatever you were craving, not even tasting it because your mind is so obsessed with the guilt that may have transpired during and afterward.

We can go on and on about strategies on how to make peace with yourself and food. You must be “mindful” and build in techniques to create new habits so that you have lasting results and continuous progress based on your personal situation. What we do at Inspire Nutrition is help you figure out your Nutritional Blueprint. This is what works for you over the long term. This takes some trial and error sometimes, and hey, we all wish we could lose 20 pounds yesterday. But you know that “slow and steady” wins the race in this game! We review all roadblocks you may face. We consider your stage of life. And, we listen to how all of this affects you physically and emotionally.

All of us at Inspire Nutrition are here to help you manage your foods and establish your Nutritional Blueprint during this Pandemic and into the Future. We urge you to start thinking NOW about where you want to be when our Sheltering in Place mandate is lifted. Let us help you begin to get back on track today. Be strong and try to remain positive. And, take this time to take back control of your own situation – which often starts with taking control of our foods.

Please be safe and take care!

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