When you want to change the way you eat, you’ve got to do something different than what you’ve always done before. In a name, what most people have done before is The Diet Cycle. So how exactly do you start switching it up?
Changing the way you eat is simple, but most of us have a loooong pattern of trying to do it, and each attempt makes it more complicated.
Basically, we fail at our attempts to change the way we eat because of our repeated attempts to change the way we eat.
Let me explain. By embarking on a diet, we set out to restrict certain foods, exercise more than we’re used to, and ‘stick with it’ for long enough to see results. The problem is, we as human beings are always changing – we’re not robots. Our emotions, our hormones, and our environment are in a constant state of flux. What seems ideal one moment – like a strict eating plan – doesn’t fit for us the next moment, and so we find ourselves going against the exact rules we set up for ourselves, which puts us in a state of conflict, especially around food.
Diets lead to binges. And when we binge (I like to call it ‘a food bender’), we usually eat the exact foods we were trying to restrict in the diet. Naturally, we feel super crappy about ourselves as a result, which is the Guilt Stage – filled with negativity, bad self-talk, and general icky-ness that leaves us wanting to hide in sweatpants and not leave the house.
What helps us pass through the Guilt Stage is a little boost of motivation – That’s it! I’m going to do something about this for real this time! – aaaaaand, we set ourselves up to do another diet.
Obviously this cycle looks different for each of us, and the different stages last different lengths of time, but what I’ve noticed with myself and with my clients is that after a few years in this cycle (and for some it’s been a few decades) the Diet Stage lasts shorter and shorter periods of time, and eventually we end up feeling like we can’t stick to anything. Sound familiar? That’s exactly how I felt just over a year ago before I figured all this stuff out.
In my book The Diet Monster (which I’m so excited to finish I could scream) I reference the above image a lot because it simplifies the cycle most people get stuck in when they’re trying to change the way they eat. Once you can see this cycle happening in your life, that awareness can help you change it – for real this time.
So when you’re faced with this decision:
Whether you want to lose weight or just change the way you eat, I’ve found that the most practical first step is to be aware of the urge to diet. That breaks the cycle. Then, instead of the imposition of a diet, start paying attention to the intuition of your body’s signals.
The three guidelines for Natural Eating are:
1 – Eat when you’re hungry
2 – Stop when you’re satisfied
3 – Eat foods that make you feel good.
Really, changing the way you eat for real is a process of simplification. It’s about learning to trust yourself rather than impose rules on yourself. Once you can do this, you will start to see how much more enjoyable it is to eat naturally than it is to be constantly stuck in the Diet Cycle and not actually seeing results from your hard work.
I know this can be some heavy stuff, so take it easy on yourself when you’re just starting out. I help people with these changes for a living, so if I can help you, send me an email and let’s chat.
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Thanks for reading, I really hope this helped.