The Art of Eating Well
The most popular question I get from people has to do with food. “What do you eat”? “What should I eat?” “Why is food so hard”? I can usually see the sheer frustration on their faces while they ask these questions, and feel their sense of helplessness and even embarrassment.
I never downplay these concerns or butt in to tell them what they should or shouldn’t be doing. I generally stay quiet while listening to understand and appreciate their full conversation so that my response will be appropriate and specific to them.
I believe that Food and Eating are entirely personal concepts for every single one of us. An analysis of an individual’s diet really can’t be generalized. We are led to believe that there are commonalities between us in terms of how what, when and why we should eat, I disagree.
Although there may be similarities as far as what, where and maybe even how we eat, we differ very much when it comes to why we eat. We are told to eliminate all kinds of foods from our diets, time when we’re eating or spend our days counting calories here or monitoring macros there!
All the enjoyment of nourishing our bodies is quickly being snatched away from us by this approach to eating as something you should fear or feel guilty about. From intermittent fasting to macro counting and high protein diets…it all just seems like such hard work, and it’s no wonder that we are all so confused.
Why so many diets don’t work
However some of these methods may appear to be effective at the beginning, the results are almost always short-lived. The temporary high that people experience from losing weight, having a flatter stomach and fitting into that little black dress can actually bring about the opposite effect than they expect.
Instead of making them ‘happier’ so many ends up devastated, dissatisfied and very disappointed because their diets aren’t sustainable and their bodies rebound with a vengeance. They gain back all the weight they lost plus more in most cases and the expense, deprivation, effort, and intensity required to keep up these “results” is often challenging, leaving them feeling discouraged and as though they have failed.
I’m sure we all know someone that has been through this process, and they feel disillusioned. A common response I hear from those affected is “What do I do now, nothing I do works! And I try really hard.” And this is what I would say to that.
Being frustrated or upset is not productive.
Look at it this way, firstly even when you haven’t gotten “results” and you feel crappy about the time, money and effort you have invested into this, the fact is that you have learned from it. Even if all you learned was that the program didn’t work for you, you’ll know not to chase the quick fix again.
Secondly, understand that you are not the same as me or anyone else, so letting someone tell you when, how, what, why you should eat never works.
We all have unique lifestyles, backgrounds, taste-buds, body types, social economic capabilities, personalities….I could go on forever!
There are so many reasons why being instructed about food and eating sets people up for failure. There’s just no way that the creator of a generic diet-plan can factor in all these differences because they are not fixed circumstances and are always variable.
Here’s how I explain it
Our moods change all the time and our emotions are connected to our moods. Our bodies actually burn more calories depending on our emotions, that’s scientifically proven.
We don’t know what our days and moods will be like from day-to-day so having a “restricted calorie diet” is counter-productive because on the days we need more energy the body will definitely be lacking enough calories and it will be in deficit.
This then raises the cortisol levels (fat storing hormones) that makes our bodies hold on to weight and fat because they’re – this is called ‘starvation mode’.
Another reason low-calorie diets do not work is that we scientifically burn between 250-400 calories while we sleep.
So more often than not depending on how well we ate the day before or how consistent we are with our food we are always usually playing catch-up.
If you have a 1200 calorie diet for example and you burn between 250-400 sleeping. How would the body survive properly and get enough nutrition to stay alive, but also lose the unwanted weight when it barely has enough to stay alive?
It won’t. So people end up spinning their wheels and getting nowhere.
This is why food restrictions don’t work, they may start out looking like they are but often will result in quicker weight gain than before. None of us got our bodies to where they are today overnight, so why should we give into desperation and try to force “results” overnight without taking the time to understand and respect our bodies.
Depriving your body of the fuel it needs to function through injections, deprivation and fad diet is disrespecting and abusing yourself.
It is so much easier when we keep things simple, that’s when we start to see real progress. It comes down to considering ‘how’ to eat, not ‘what’ to eat.
Related: Top 10 Tips for a Healthier Diet
Heal your relationship with food
The easiest way to start to get any real understanding of our relationship with food is to follow the analogy I use with my clients.
I ask them to picture their stomachs as the sink in their bathroom. Put the plug in the sink then picture everything you eat or put in your mouth going into that plugged sink. Water, coffee, treats, food, candies, salads, bread, anything at all!
Then remove the plug and see how long it takes for all the food and liquid to go through the drain. (The sink is your stomach, the plug will be your stomach bacteria for digestion and the pipes, the intestinal tract).
How long will it take to get all these down the pipe?
Keeping in mind that our stomachs are a lot smaller than the sink. Being aware is 50% of the issue, then knowing how to eat based on you is the other 50%. If you noticed you would see that I never told you what to put in the sink? Whatever you eat is what you put in the sink.
That way they can put their own interpretation based on one or more of their components into their own equation. I always say food and eating are like a crossword puzzle some people start building inside out and some start outside in but they always reach the end goal of creating a nice picture irrespective of how they began.
Once there is an understanding of how to eat what I do for UFiiT clients is to give them a table that gives them the other 50% which is how to translate the how into their daily lives and ultimate goals of Weightloss, fitness, flat stomachs, muscle building, toning and so on.
As a final thought, I’d like to suggest that we stop using the concept of ‘results’ and substitute it with success.
This came about from a really cool discussion a valuable client and I shared. The concept of ‘results’ has started to take on negative connotations. We are bombarded by ads that promise ‘fast results’; ‘weightloss results’ ‘results at work’ and so on.
It leaves zero room for us to see our little accomplishments and appreciate our little milestones. When we don’t get to the “result” we seek we consider it a failure. Which is false! All our little accomplishments, milestones, and subtle changes are successes. So once we learn that successes are a lot more permanent, amazing, tangible, realistic and bigger we actually usually exceed our “results” in more ways than one because our results are components of our successes.
Get a personal diet analysis
With my 10-Week Lean program, I give you a personalized diet analysis, giving you clean eating substitutions and tips for increasing the nutrition in your diet (without sacrificing the foods you love!). All this with a new resistance workout to follow every week for 10 weeks, this plan will help you lose weight and tone up in just 10 weeks.
It’s all run from a closed Facebook page for small groups of up to 20 so we can stay in touch and I can share my tips and knowledge with you throughout.
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