What if I told you there IS such a thing as eating what you love and while maintaining a healthy weight? I get asked quite often, “what do you eat?”, and anytime I am at an event with clients or even a big family gathering where I am with people that don’t see me all that often, people are always SHOCKED to see that I pick up dessert. They can’t believe this REGISTERED DIETITIAN eats “bad food”???!!!
Let’s start there. I hate the terms “good food, bad food”. Anytime we label a food as “bad”, we automatically set ourselves up for putting ourselves down if we ever eat said food. Not cool. We are humans and we have taste buds that enjoy certain foods for a reason. Foods are meant to be enjoyed. And I absolutely enjoy dessert. Especially in chocolate form 🙂
That said, it always hurts me a little to see or hear people that think they need to eat “diet food” or “rabbit food” in order to lose weight. I’m sorry, but diet food doesn’t make sense and rabbit food sounds disgusting. Part of the problem is that people throw around the word “diet” as an adjective (diet food) or a verb – “I am dieting” or “I need to go on a diet”, when we should really see it more as a noun. We all have diets. Your diet is simply the kind of food that you consume. The second you start throwing it around as something you “must do”, it becomes daunting. It becomes negative.
If weight loss or weight management is your goal, more than likely you will need to adjust your diet. The best thing to do is to start small. If someone currently consume zero vegetables, eats mostly fried foods and drinks little to no water (just an example), he/she probably shouldn’t take on a plant based diet where everything is steamed and he/she can only drink water. I mean, in all honestly, that sounds like a great way to eat, but it would not be practical for someone to make all of those drastic changes at once. Those changes MAY last a couple of weeks, IF THAT. That person will quickly begin to despise steamed and plant based foods and possibly even hate water, because they will miss what they used to eat so badly, they will throw the whole thing out the window and end up right back where they started. Not helpful.
Starting small is always key in anything we wish to change long-term. We must slowly build new habits, rather than trying to find quick-fixes or a way to change overnight. The most promising way to establish better habits is to take it one thing at a time. With that, it is also important to consider what you actually enjoy. In an attempt to change your diet, you certainly don’t want to force feed yourself something you hate. That will NEVER STICK. In trying to change behavior, we must enjoy the process. If you know you want to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, but you hate salads, don’t eat salad. Simple as that. Find ways to prepare different vegetables in a way that you enjoy eating them. This could be in a stir-fry, mixed into soup, spiraled and turned into “noodles” or even just eating them raw with a light dip. Same with trying to stop a certain behavior. Find ways to gradually decrease the behavior you wish to stop. For example, if you are a soda drinker and wish to cut back, start by removing a couple sodas a week and replacing them with sparkling water. As you become comfortable with the cut back, cut back a little more. Always remember, those sodas will always be there if you REALLY want one, and you should never feel as though you cannot have them. The way you view the behavior change (and food!) will make all the difference. As I mentioned previously, we want to make sure we aren’t labeling our foods as “good” or “bad”, but simply finding ways to enjoy food that will also nourish our bodies, and possibly, get us closer to our health and wellness goals.
I’m going to assume most people can relate to having told themselves they are not having sugar (or sodas, or fast food, or alcohol, etc.) for a predetermined amount of time. What did you wake up wanting? THAT EXACT FOOD….Right?? The moment we consider something off-limits, we crave it. It’s annoying, but it’s true 🙂 (Same with viewing a food as “diet food” or something similar. By labeling it as a something negative, you are setting yourself up to hate it.) You may very well wish to cut something cold turkey and be done, but that may not be the best route to take if you are wanting to make a long-term change. Instead, try assuring yourself that you can, in fact have that food/drink anytime you really want it. It will always be available. If you are able to really listen to your body and focus on finding ways to enjoy food that also nourishes your body and leads you closer to your goals, you may realize you don’t crave those unhealthier items as much anyways.