Another diet. Another resolution. Another disappointment. This time was supposed to be different!
It's not you that failed; it was the diets that failed you. They weren't right for you. Counting calories, restricting carbs, worrying over fat grams, denying yourself the things you like to eat most...this is not a resolution. It's a punishment. You don't deserve punishment. You deserve to eat foods you love and you deserve to eat when you're hungry.
All of these rules, these diets. They don't make you healthier. They don't make you happier. They just drive a wedge between you and food. They cause anxiety and feelings of deprivation and failure. If followed perfectly they may make you lose weight, but often at the cost of your happiness and your personality and your spontaneity. Most diets aren't written to make you physically and emotionally healthy. They are written to sell books and products and programs*.
This year, will you try something really different? Think about it before you decide, because it will be uncomfortable at first. This year I would like you to stop going on diets. To stop following arbitrary food rules meant to lower your weight at the expense of your sanity. To stop saying, "I shouldn't." To stop categorizing food as "good" and "bad."
Are you afraid doing this will turn the world into an all-you-can-eat buffet? It might...at first. But when you have permission to eat what you want, it becomes a lot less important to eat as much of it as you can. When you have permission to eat when you're hungry, you're a lot less likely to eat too much when you finally do. Most importantly, when you don't have food rules, you don't have to feel like crap for breaking them.
Are you afraid that if you don't diet, you'll weigh too much? If that were true, then your first diet would have succeeded and you would've never looked back. If you're here, then diets didn't work for you anyway. You might have even gained weight from some of them. Want to know the real secret? The best weight management strategy is a healthy relationship with food.
For 2014, I want to give you permission to honor your hunger and your preferences. That means eating what you want when you're hungry and stopping when you're full. But don't worry, I'm not going to tell you this and leave you on your own to figure it out. Each week I will write more on this, so we'll take the journey together. At times it will be scary and at times it will be inconvenient, but I promise you it's worth it. This could be the year you make peace with food- if you're willing.
If you'd like someone to walk you through personally, I offer nutrition counseling in Dallas, TX and would be honored to help you. If you are smart and motivated and good at being accountable to yourself, just keep reading each week and you may not need more than that. Maybe ask a like-minded friend to get on board with you for support if you'd like. For extra encouragement, sign up for my email list and I may occasionally send out little tidbits that don't fit into the blog (full disclosure: I'm not quite sure what those will be yet, but I promise not to spam you or share your email address with anyone else).
One last thing. There are some diet books in your house that aren't good for you. Throw them out. No, don't take them to Half Price Books. They won't give you much for them anyway, and back on the shelf they'll be able to hurt someone else. Literally throw them away (or better yet, recycle them). I know they cost money and that feels wasteful, but you'll feel liberated. To put my money where my mouth is, I'll even share the cost with you. If you come see me for nutrition counseling, bring me one of those books and I will deduct the list price from the cost of our session. Fair?
Your assignment for this week is to just think all of this over. Let it sink in a little. Write comments and questions if you have them; I really do want to hear from you. And then get ready, because next week I'm going to give you something more to do.
Happy 2014, all. This is going to be a good year.
*I realize that technically I sell something too (my services). My goal in working with patients, though, is for them to eventually not need me anymore. I want to empower you, not make you dependent.