Sustaining A Healthy Style Of Eating For The Long Term
It’s probably no surprise to you that by the time we reach early adulthood most woman and many men have tried multiple diets. While not all diets are unsustainable or fads, a large majority of them are very restrictive - they significantly restrict calories and / or certain food groups. Unfortunately this approach to weight, health, food and eating can negatively affect us both physically and mentally.
Dietary Restriction and Weight Loss
While low calorie diets may help you achieve short term physical results, when the restricted energy and foods are reintroduced, weight gain is very common. This style of eating often leads to a restrict - overeat - restrict - overeat cycle which is also (not surprisingly) linked with weight gain over time. The biggest problem however is the stress and anxiety we feel around food and the impact this has on our overall long term health and wellbeing.
Dietary Restriction and Mental Health
Guess what happens when you tell yourself you can’t or aren’t allowed to eat something? You want it (and usually lots of it) more than you did before you made that statement to yourself! Setting these kind of ‘rules’ around food is dangerous for a few different reason:
- It can cause a great deal of anxiety around food
- It can affect your social life
- When we have access to the ‘restricted’ or ‘bad’ food again, we overindulge. We overindulge because we know after this indulgence, there will be another period of restriction. And this often leads to feelings of guilt and shame and another cycle or restriction and overeating
Finding the BALANCE
While we encourage you to fill your diet with mostly whole, real, fresh and nutrient rich foods, it's really important to include treat foods that you love in your diet as well. If you indulge in your favourite treat foods occasionally, maybe some chocolate after dinner a few nights a week or perhaps your favourite takeaway on a Friday night, you are more likely to enjoy a healthy and balanced style of eating in the long term. It’s also really important that the foods you eat everyday are foods you enjoy. Food preference is such an important part of meal planning and eating the things that make you feel good will keep you motivated, so use the Nutrition information in My Nutritionist as guidance but make it work for you!
For the next 24 hours, pay close attention to your internal dialogue around all things, but especially food. If you notice you’re using language like 'can’t', pause and rephrase your comments.
Remember you ARE allowed to eat treat foods, these foods are not bad foods, but rather sometimes foods.
Remind yourself that a diet made up of mostly fresh foods rich in macro and micro nutrients, that also includes occasional indulgences is healthy and sustainable
And finally, if and when you choose to not eat something, remember this is not because it isn’t allowed, but rather you have decided that eating it right now isn't line with your goals.
There truly is merrit in the saying ‘everything in moderation’!
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