Right now, in this very moment, would you say you are "on track" or "off track" with your diet?
What if I told you that very mindset of all or nothing is what is setting you up to fail, time and time again?
If you're not sure whether this approach to eating is running your life, let me know if this sounds like you ...
Yesterday, you've fallen "off track." You ate a bite of bread that you was on the "bad foods" list. You say, "fuck it," and eat the whole damn loaf. But it's ok, because tomorrow you'll start again. (how many Day 1's have you had? I know I can't even count them in my 32 years of being).
You wake up the next day and eat the healthy, clean breakfast you had planned.
Lunch comes around and you'd really like the turkey, avocado sandwich at the nearby cafe. But, you've heard you shouldn't be eating gluten or carbs if you want to lose weight, so you decide to be "good" and get the salad.
The day gets busy and you get hungry. You wait too long, your blood sugar drops and you finally eat your cucumbers and hummus. But, you're ravenous and scarf them down before you can even enjoy the taste.
You get home. You're tired. You cook the healthy dinner outlined in your meal plan. You find yourself picking at the ingredients as you cook, eating while standing...
You finally sit and try to make yourself enjoy it. But, you're not satisfied.
You go back to the pantry and allow yourself to indulge in a little of whatever was "off limits" to begin with. Of course you can't stop at a little bit. You end up saying "fuck it" (again) and keep eating with the goal of "starting all over again tomorrow." (Haven't heard that one before 😒)
The rush feels good for a second, and then it hits you…
What did I do?
Why can't I have enough will power to control myself?
How can other people lose weight and I can't?
How am I going to make up for the damage?
Who am I kidding? Tomorrow I'll say I'll get back on track, and the same thing will happen again.
the brain fog, the sluggishness, the bloating…
the guilt, the shame, the looking for answers.
And the cycle continues.
Guess what? The "All or Nothing" Approach to Eating DOESN'T WORK!
Let's break down WHY this approach doesn't work (and what you can do instead):
1) It triggers survival mechanisms in the brain that drive you to think about and obsess over food all the time. This makes you eat more.
Believe it or not, what you’re doing to control your eating is actually making you eat more.
When you diet, control or restrict your food, your brain goes into protection mode. Your brain recognizes food restriction as a possible deficit in what it needs to survive and thrive. It then sends signals that change your body’s physiology, which end up driving you to eat more.
On top of that, the stress and judgement you're putting on yourself when eating is actually telling your body to process your food as fat, not fuel. When you're negatively looking at or controlling food, the body interprets this as a form of stress and thus will metabolize your food completely differently. If you're curious about this phenomenon, I break it down in this blog.
We all know how hard it is to stop a binge once it starts. So think of dieting and obsessing over food as fuel for the fire of binge eating. You think it's the solution to finally losing the weight, but it's actually what's keep you from losing the weight.
TRY THIS INSTEAD:
I'm not recommending you eat pizza all day long. But try to view your food as fuel that will nourish your mind, body and soul. Try not to deprive or restrict. If you want the turkey, avocado sandwich, eat it, but eat it mindfully. You'll find that when you allow your body to have what it truly craves, you'll only eat to satisfaction (not the whole sandwich plus your entire pantry ;)).
2) It removes you from the present moment and forces you to rely on the crazy thoughts swirling around in your head.
"All or nothing" means you’re making choices on what you ate before or what you might eat later, and looking at things in a 1-day-at-a-time perspective. Your body is not this linear.
The only tool you should be using to determine what you eat on any given day is your body. And it's hard to listen to your body when you're in your head. Quiet the noise in your mind—the guilt, shame, judgement, control—and let your body tell you what you need.
TRY THIS INSTEAD:
Forget the negative talk that's in your head and the thousands of conflicting nutritional theories the diet industry is telling you to follow. Bring your body back to the discussion.
Start with present moment choices. Not based on what you ate last night or the meal prior, and not based on what you might do tomorrow or might eat later. What does your body feel like eating right now—in this moment?
Before each meal, keep asking yourself: What do I need to feel nourished & satisfied? What would honor my body in this moment?
This was the hardest for me to do. But, once I let go of the mind games and stopped planning my food based on what I had binged on the day before, my body started to talk to me. I listened and all of a sudden, the weight started to melt off despite the "off limit" foods I was giving it.
3) "Cheat" or an “off track” days program us to binge eat.
Cheat days are rewarded in the brain with chemicals that leave us coming back for more. Remember, when the survival mechanism is activated, your brain is invested in making you eat. Once you do, the chemicals in your brain say "THANK YOU," and "give me more of that!" which then programs your brain to binge eat.
The brain is always trying to make behavior automatic, so as you keep participating in this behavior, the brain pattern gets more engrained, and the behavior can become habitual and automatic.
We've all felt it before—once the anxious, binge-shakes start (you know the ones that won't settle until food hits your tongue), we often don't realize what happened until after the fact. It's the reason we often feel like we can't stop the urge or the binge.
TRY THIS INSTEAD:
Practice balance and mindful eating 7 days of the week. Do not restrict or deprive yourself of any foods. All foods are "on limits." Listen to your body and fuel yourself adequately, enjoying a variety of foods that satisfy your brain and your belly. When your brain starts to understand that a certain food won't be taken away, it will stop sending the signals to eat before you can't anymore!
4) Which brings us to the 4th point ... when we think foods will be forbidden in the future, we eat as much of it as we can in the present moment.
Think about it, if you told someone "you're never eating bread again," don't you think they'd run out to the closest Harris Teeter and clear the bread aisle?
When you truly practice the art of allowance, the survival signals in your brain that drive you to overeat these "forbidden foods," like bread, will dissipate. You'll stop having intense cravings for things like bread or foods you’ve denied yourself. You may still want the bread on occasion in the future, but it won’t be a compulsive binge urge or a decision that will be rooted in conflict, fear or intense emotional angst. You’ll be able to enjoy a piece out of the bread basket, instead of shoving them all in your purse for a midnight snack later.
This balance sans restriction and control is what will allow you to experience sustainable weight loss, restored energy and optimal health.
I know you probably don't believe me on this one right now—it took me YEARS to let go of the control. But once I did, the magic started to happen and my mind + body became FREE—free to experience LIFE like I had never before, without the chains of food obsession.
TRY THIS INSTEAD:
Know that you have nothing to lose by trying this new approach to eating. I know it's hard to think that if you stop controlling your intake, that you won't see the weight loss you're yearning so badly for. But, I promise you, that through practicing allowance, all foods are available, allowed and abundant, and that from this point of acceptance, you'll be able to transform your relationship with food and start to choose meals from a place of love vs. fear.
And what happens when you start to see your food with love instead of judgement? Again, revert back to this blog. ;)
Before each food decision, ask yourself: “Am I making this choice from a place of love for my body or from a place of fear?”
I know this is going to feel scary. You've had these self-destructive food behaviors for years. You think that if you lose control, don't count your calories or plan your meals, or allow certain foods in your diet, that you won't see the results you want. It's quite the contrary, my love.
Once your brain knows you love your body and that you want nothing more than to nourish it, your body will start to function properly and melt away all of the excess baggage—including the weight you've been carrying around. Because that's all weight is anyway—proof of the void you have yet to heal within.
Stop the dieting and restriction and start feeding your body what it's craving. It's the only way to get your brain out of survival mode and put you on the path to food recovery and weight loss success.
You can do it, my love. I'm here for you.