Diets work. No question. For a period of time, most people can summon up the will power and discipline to stick to an eating plan that removes the offending foods, reduces their calories and lessens consumption. Then they can go to the gym and increase their metabolism and after a month of hardcore dieting they have lost a significant amount of weight. So, if so many people are having success at the diet game then why do 90 percent of dieters gain back all the weight they lost within a year? The answer is simple, really, standard diets remove food types that are always going to want their way back in to your mouth. If you are doing the 30 day elimination plan that is trending all over social media you are doing exactly what you have always done: found a temporary eating plan that restricts your food choices. What happens two months down the road when the Cape Cod potato chip bag is screaming like a siren as you walk into the grocery store? Generally you say (like I do) ‘I’ve been so good for so long, a little bit won’t hurt,’ right? And then, if you are anything like me, you are back to eating Hershey’s kisses under the covers like they are actual kisses (which you really, really, wish they were) and then you are craving the foods that are always your pitfalls just as much as you ever did before. You go back to eating the way you used to, thinking that you can manage the quantities, and sooner or later those pounds you worked so hard to take off are right back where they were.
What if, instead of looking for the magic will-power pill to pop, we instead accepted our path as being imperfect and thought of the bigger picture? What if the bigger picture was about adding in health and happiness rather than removing food types? What if the bigger picture was about gaining strength and power and health and vitality? What if instead of taking away you could add in the foods that serve you and make you happy?
Take a notebook that you are going to dedicate to this project for the next year and on the first page write down on the top line: FOODS I LOVE. Then list all the whole foods that you love. This is not specific dishes or recipes, but whole foods like chocolate, red wine, rice, broccoli…you get the idea.
MY LIST: almonds, cashews, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, coffee, wine, rice (I could go on for about five pages but you wouldn’t read to the end)
Now on the next page after making your list I want you to think about the foods YOU think you should cut back on, or: FOODS THAT PLAGUE ME. If you eat a bag of Lays potato chips and you’re not starring in their commercial this could be one of them. These are not necessarily whole foods but any food that “calls your name” when you are already full or plan to eat something ‘healthy.’ This can include foods that make you feel awful afterwards, but you eat them anyway. Pretty good indication that they are not your friend. No one is going to see this list but you so you can get really honest here.
MY LIST: vodka, milk chocolate, cheese, white bread, chocolate lava cake (mine) These are all foods that make me feel awful afterwards. Admittedly, my list is pretty small now, but trust me, it was epic eight years ago.
Then on the next page write down what you want to feel in your own skin. What do you want to change? A lot of you are probably now already looking for reasons that this is not going to work. Again, no one is going to see this but you, so you can reach deep for the goals that have always eluded you.
MY LIST: I want to feel great in my own skin. I want to wake up strong and go through the day strong. I don’t want to get exhausted halfway through a workout or be too tired to put the kids to bed. I want to sleep easily and well. I want my food to be a natural part of my day rather than having to think about it too much. I want to feed my family in a way that makes them healthier as well. I don’t want to come home hungry and tired and drink a bottle of wine rather than eat dinner.
So are you willing to try something new? Are you willing to change your mind? Are you tired of feeling tired and sick and out of sorts? Are you willing to grow? For those of you that want a more concrete way to eat, and you don’t want to eat certain foods then you must add in the ones that serve you. Eventually what you don’t want will fall off your daily food list. If it doesn’t work right away it just means that you have to eat more of the ‘’add in” foods.
To take out SUGAR, add in:
Brown rice syrup
Local seasonal fruits and fresh squeezed juices
Dark unsweetened chocolate
Morning smoothies with super fruits, chia, nut milk
*yes, the list has sugar alternatives so this is still ‘sugar’ to someone with high blood sugars, the diabetes approach is a different one so go down to the ‘add in health’ list
To take out ALCOHOL, add in:
Green and white tea
Pure fresh juiced vegetable juices
*obviously, if you are suffering from addiction this list is incomplete
To take out WHITE FLOUR add in:
Whole unprocessed grains
Brown rice syrup
Fresh raw fruit and vegetable juices
*since white flour converts to sugar in a second, look at the sugar list as well
To take out BAD HEALTH and add in ENDURANCE & LONGEVITY:
Deep leafy greens – kale, spinach, chard, turnip, mustard, choy family
Vegetables – Celery, broccoli, bok choy, beets, cucumber, romaine
Super fruits – goji, fig, lemon
Raw nuts – walnuts, almonds and cashews
Seeds – flax, chia and pumpkin
Whole grains and beans – unrefined and unprocessed
Berries – blueberries and strawberries etc
Raw coconut oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Spices – turmeric ginger cayenne cinnamon
Ok, so these lists are big and no one on the planet could possibly consume all that stuff in the Healthy list all the time, right? What if today, you added in one or even two of the foods that would help you lessen the foods that plague you?
What if today rather than eating the Keebler Elf cookie, you sat down and drank a glass of water and then had a square of 72% dark chocolate. Instead of that highly processed cookie you held the dark chocolate in your mouth and let every bit of it melt away. You felt it against your taste buds and savored each nuance of the experience. You allowed it to completely disappear while actually enjoying it rather than barely swallowing it before you pop another one in your mouth.
Try the above exercises today. Tomorrow we are going to try an exercise in deliberate eating that will help you to rethink about the actual act of nourishment. Remember, you can’t fail at this, because there is no failure. You are in the process of finding more complete and healthy ways to nourish yourself because #foodislove.