When we feel fat and ashamed, it’s natural to want to punish ourselves. After all, we ate the food, so it must be our fault that we aren’t as slim as we’d like to be. And a diet is the perfect way to both punish ourselves (by depriving ourselves of what and how we’d like to eat) and to gain control (as we’re scared of how much we might eat if we allowed ourselves) and to lose the weight.
The reason we aren’t as slim as we’d like isn’t because we don’t have enough control. Its because we’ve been subjecting ourselves to TOO MUCH control. There are many many scientific studies that have shown that dietary restriction leads to excess eating, beyond the point of fullness, and beyond the body’s requirements.
The reason we aren’t as slim as we’d like is BECAUSE we’ve been punishing ourselves – depriving ourselves of what we’d like to eat.
We’ve stopped trusting ourselves, stopped trusting our bodies. And the media reinforces this. It tells us that we can’t know what to eat. We need diets, or nutritionists, or television programmes to tell us. No matter that for thousands of years before these existed we managed fine. These days, we’ve been told we can’t be relied on.
If we want to lose weight, we need to eat less than we have been. And if we’re eating less, I recommend that we enjoy every mouthful.
So the first thing to do is to wait until you’re hungry. This again might make you feel panicky. It isn’t about deprivation – this is about listening to when your body is ready for food.
And once those feelings of hunger start, then take some time to imagine what you might like to eat. Chicken salad? Or do you really want something hot? Ask yourself what would make you feel satisfied. Give yourself permission to choose.
Allow yourself food. Tell yourself that you can not only pick what you eat, but that you can take time to enjoy it too. And once you have decided what you’d like, ensure that you sit down, at a table, with a plate, and savour every mouthful. Stop occasionally and ask yourself whether you’ve had enough. It might be tempting to eat more than you want to, because part of you will be scared that a diet is about to start, and it won’t get any more food.
The problem with dieting (or clean eating plans, or whatever we call them), is that we cheat on them. We cheat on them because we don’t like the food, or we get hungry or bored. Or because something happens that means we can’t stick to them: a late meeting, a family dinner, or we’re too busy to do all the preparation required.
And when we cheat then the shame envelops us – it makes us feel as though we’ll never accomplish anything, if we can’t get through a day sticking to the plan.
So how about a new plan? We’ll talk about how to come up with a new plan next time.