Hey hi hello, friends! It is Kendall and Alexis here powering together for a little twist on What I Ate Wednesday. We're going to get serious about the D word real quick. Yep, we're talking diets. Actually we're not going to talk about them, we're going to straight up call them out to their smug faces because 1) diets do not work and 2) you don't fail the diet, the diet fails you.
Over the past year and a half, I (Kendall) have reached out and talked to multiple health professionals and registered dietitians, asking what they believe a healthy life looked like. Their answers varied when talking about amount of exercise and types of protein we need, but there was 100% consensus when the word diet came up: don't.
The overarching theme touched on by all was that diets and the diet mentality put an unnatural, unhealthy strain on our bodies and minds. Something that struck me was when one of the RD's started talking to me about fad diets.
These fad diets have grown wildly in popularity over the past decade, raking in the dough. Sixty five billion dollars to be exact. She talked to me about how these diets are designed for people to fail. They profit on us thinking we're broken. That we need fixing. They're marketed as easy fixes for every problem from weight to energy to acne; yet there's one huge glaring problem: no one can stick with them. They screw with your metabolism, your mindset, and your sense of self worth. You believe you need fixing and then you set yourself up to inevitably fail yourself again. She explained how the person starts the diet, sees the benefits, but then something happens and they fall off of the set plan. Always.
This "something" happening is their super smart bodies refusing to be under-fueled. Refusing to be deprived of basic macronutrients like carbohydrates. Refusing to live life in a constant state of hunger and dissatisfaction. She talked about how companies know, they expect, that this is what will happen. All the while people who believed in the initial benefits think that it was their own fault that they failed the diet, not that the restrictive-on-a-zillion-levels diet failed them. We then pour more money into the black hole of dieting and food trends, which is just what the industry wants.
The restricting and binging cycle is like a pendulum. One side is restriction, dieting, hunger, and control while the other side is binging, guilt, and lack of control. It's a natural force to not be able to experience one side without swinging back to the other extreme. Self imposed starvation, AKA any form of dieting and overexercise, will always lead to binging unless you're a tiny percentage of the population that's genetically predisposed keep your pendulum steady at restriction (making you highly susceptible to anorexia). Time and time again we blame our own willpower instead of the restriction. Read Rachel's post for more information!
Wake up. You are more than a meal plan. Our bodies weren't built to be restricted. They were built to flourish, to be celebrated, to be RESPECTED, to be loved, to change, to be uniquely our own.
You don't simply cut out grains, sugars, carbs, beans, or dairy for a certain number of days and magically feel slimmer, less "foggy," more energetic, and wonderful for the rest of your life. You incorporate more fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and natural sugars alongside your grains, carbs, beans, dairy, and whatever else you fancy INDEFINITELY.
Remember that there is a huge difference between being full and being satisfied. Big salads or bowls of veggies topped with hummus is not a meal. Just because it fills a big bowl does not mean it will satisfy you. You can be physically full from eating a pound of lettuce (or whatever else you're eating that you don't actually want) but 0% satisfied. Maybe it's because you didn't include and fat or carbs. Maybe it's because you ate something Instagram told you to eat instead of what you actually wanted. Maybe it's because you ate due every external resource besides your own body's cues.
Here's another crazy thought! Did you know your mindset can actually manifest into physical discomfort? That you can will yourself to actually feel worse about eating certain foods (think gluten, dairy, whatever) just because you believe they're inherently "bad?" The mind-body connection is insanely powerful.
The road to feeling fantastic does not follow a thirty-day plan. It is a life-long road, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't bumpy sometimes. All good things in life are hard. There may be pot holes and sharp turns along the way, but eating obsessively "clean" and having a panic attack when you don't know the ingredient list and macronutrient composition of every single thing you're putting in your body isn't just a sharp turn---it's a fatal crash.
That is what toxic is. Not living life in the name of "healthy eating." Thinking you're doing your body and mind favors by not eating at social events. Letting food anxiety take up your precious brain space when you have a damn life to be living. Never knowing what it's like to feel like you're enough, to know you don't need fixing, to fuel yourself from a place of respect, to know you have full permission to eat what you want.
I won't go through life on a narrow, paved path. Around those sharp turns are homemade chocolate cupcakes and in the potholes are big beautiful pizza pies.
Give me broccoli, give me pancakes, but for goodness' sake don't give me a diet.
P.S. The cutest little no-bake chocolate chip cookies are from Arman's new cookbook, Clean Sweets! The picture of that glorious Mediterranean spread wasn't a dinner I had last night, it was an absolutely amazing dinner I had last week at the new Boaz Cafe in Cleveland! It was opened by the sweetest, most loving family who opened Aladdin's Eatery and I want everyone to go show them some love.
If you obsess over food and struggle with finding joy in food on a daily basis, please seek help. Start by reading Intuitive Eating and listening to the "Food Pysch" podcast. I guarantee that it will change your life! If you’d like to schedule a nutrition appointment with me, I'd love nothing more than to help you fall in love with food again. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.
If you're looking for an at-home course, try Kylie's 7 module e-course on intuitive eating and body acceptance called “How to Eat.” This is a great place to start in order to fall back in love not only with eating, but with your beautiful self! You’ll learn what’s keeping you stuck, non-diet mentalities, truly healthy movement, and curiosity over judgment.
My friends Robyn, Anne, Alex, and Rachel are also amazing resources for learning a mindful, happy approach to eating. This Joyful Eating Program is a great resource to dig deeper into the healing process. You’ll learn everything from navigating social situations and tools for building body confidence to creating a fitness routine you actually love.
Now go fall in love with yourself again!