At the start of every new year, I would promise myself that this would be my year to lose x amount of pounds. I would then either sign up for, buy, or print out an incredibly restrictive diet or clean eating guide. I would head to my cabinet and fridge and proceed to throw out all the “bad” food. Then off I would go to the grocery store and end up spending three hundred dollars on kale and some sort of food items that not only resembled cardboard, but tasted like it as well. Sound like failure in the making?
This would not only happen at the beginning of the year, but it would happen multiple times throughout the year. I was the perfect customer for the diet industry; always looking for the diet or program that would guarantee me the fastest results and inevitably I would “fail” or the weight would start to come back on — so off I went to start another diet. Not only was it expensive and exhausting, but I felt like a complete and utter failure when I couldn’t see those massive results on whichever diet I was attempting.
It was consuming my life. When I was on a diet I would avoid social situations where I knew I might be tempted; I would restrict, restrict, restrict — and then end up eating all the damn cake. I would often diet at the same time I was training for a race. My weight had become this constant struggle and thoughts of food and eating had completely consumed my life.
Two years ago I went off to see the world and during that time I gained almost thirty pounds. It was then I started to realize how much dieting had consumed my life, stolen my joy, and affected how I saw myself for so long that my self-worth was based on whether I was losing weight or not.
I was over it…
To regain my sanity and to loosen the grip that dieting had on my life, I allowed myself to eat whatever I felt like. No food was off limits unless it made me feel terrible or I was allergic. This was by no means a new concept to me — in fact, eating moderately was often taught in my nutrition classes. I scoffed at the idea then and was too afraid to ever let myself have permission to not be on a diet. I was petrified of not going on a diet because I felt like then I would have no control over my weight.
What I found was the exact opposite. By allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted within reason, stopping when I was full as opposed to stuffed, listing to my hunger cues but not letting them control my life, looking at food as fuel instead of labeling it as “good” or “bad” — I found that not only did I seek out foods that made me feel good naturally, I lost weight without trying. I don’t succeed at eating moderately everyday, but over time I find it has come more naturally. This year I have gained a bit over the holidays and instead of cutting my calories or going on some clean eating kick, I now focus on making veggies a priority and I ensure I get enough protein. I also understand that it takes time to gain fat, but I know that it takes time to lose it as well.
Keys to eating in moderation:
- Pay attention to your body and stop eating well before your stuffed.
- Craving something? Dish out a small portion first, then if you want more, get more.
- Eat for your goals: if you’re wanting to lose fat, eat less treats and more veggies. Select one or two meals a day and make them primarily vegetables and protein.
- Moderation is not an excuse for a free for all.
- Food is fuel — it is not “bad” or “good”
- Listen to your hunger cues: it’s ok to have seconds but it’s also ok to leave food on your plate.