Give Yourself Unconditional Permission To Eat

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “cheat”? Often we associate this word with words like “wrong”, “dishonest”, “shameful”, or “bad”. We are constantly disadvantaging ourselves just by categorizing any sort of food consumption with the word “cheat”. It’s likely that you immediately associate negative feelings with whatever “cheat” food choice you make, regardless of the food. By labeling foods, or even whole meals, with this terminology we are surrendering all of the power to the food. This means we are giving up our own control, and often landing ourselves in an endless cycle of binging and restricting.

 

In theory, a “cheat day” seems like it could be a great idea, a way to eat healthy most of the time without depriving yourself of other “less healthy” foods you enjoy. However, in practice, the concept doesn’t quite play out like this. The term “cheat day” is incredibly subjective and lacks a technical definition. Depending on your interpretation, it is likely that you are doing your body much more harm than good.

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Most of us think of “cheat days” as a day that you grant yourself permission to eat whatever you want. Here’s the problem: this concept makes is nearly impossible to listen to and trust your body. By “saving up calories for cheat days”, you are basically depriving yourself 5-6 days of the week and then embarking on an eating frenzy the other 1-2 days. We all know this type of behavior isn’t healthy for our bodies. What happens is you begin engaging in a “yo-yo” style of eating, which has proven to have negative effects on your metabolism - not to mention the impact it can have on your mental and emotional well being.

Engaging in “cheat day” behavior sends your mind and body on an emotional roller coaster. It may be that the day you deemed as your “cheat day” was actually a day that your body was intuitively craving primarily vegetables and fruits. Instead, since it was your designated day for cheating your diet, you ate pizza, cake, and french fries. Food becomes a "novelty item" and by giving yourself only one day, not granting yourself unconditional permission to eat everyday, we often end up consuming more. At the end of the day your left feeling unsatisfied and maybe even disappointed in yourself.

"Trust yourself and work on improving your capacity to decipher between what your cravings are telling you and why."

 

Now picture this with me, a non-”cheat day” mentality; you have dinner plans with friends two nights in a row. The first night you get pizza because it’s from your favorite place and you know how much you will enjoy it. The next night, you skip the nachos your friends order and decide on a delicious looking salad instead because your can feel a craving for some seasonal veggies. You leave dinner both nights feeling equally satisfied and content. Just by listening to your body’s cues you are able to make choices that allow you to enjoy the food and the company surrounding you without being consumed by what you “could” and “could not” eat.

By allowing ourselves unconditional permission to eat we can avoid food classification words such as “cheat” that leave us feeling guilt and shame. The concept of “unconditional permission” doesn’t mean we eat whatever we want whenever we want, but rather, approach each day with the mentality that no food is ever “off limits”. We may actually end up eating less by listening to and respecting our body's natural cues. Remind yourself each day that the food does not have the power, but rather you have the power. Trust yourself and work on improving your capacity to decipher between what your cravings are telling you and why. Most importantly, be kind to yourself! Select foods that make you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally satisfied.

Does the concept of unconditional permission to eat feel scary to you? We want you to know that you are not alone in this! Working with a non-diet dietitian can help ease those fears and help support you in working towards a trusting relationship with food and body. Want to talk more about? Schedule a visit with us - we're here to help you every step of the way :) 

It’s not you, It’s your diet… 5 reasons why diets don’t work and what you can do to challenge the urge to try the latest fad. PLUS a long lasting alternative that you can truly enjoy.

5 Reasons Diets Don't Work: 

1. They increase feelings of guilt and shame when detouring from diet (as the HUMAN you are).

If you tell yourself that you can’t eat <insert any type of food here> and end up eating this food, how are you likely to feel? Guilty? Bad? Disgusting? What happens then? “To heck with it, I might as well just keep eating, I’ve already failed…” And down the dieting rabbit hole you go which leads me to my next point.

2. They lead to a cycle of restriction & overeating, wreaking havoc on your metabolism in the process.

Yup, you tell yourself you can’t have said food item and then you end up eating said food item and then the negative thoughts attack. Why, did you do that? Not because you are a failure and you suck at this, because you LOVE food and food is delicious! READ: it’s not you, it’s the diet that sucks. If you listen to your body and allow yourself to enjoy food, you might find you end up eating exactly the amount your body needs! Depriving yourself can lead to overeating which can then lead to more deprivation. Reduced calorie intake can push our body’s into a survival mode, slowing our metabolism. Not an ideal situation, my friend!

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3. They negatively impact your social life - dinners out, holidays, family gatherings, dating, etc…

Not to mention the amount of physical and emotional energy you expend trying to control your body weight, shape and size. Food and eating are meant to be ENJOYABLE. Sometimes diets stop us from enjoying social gatherings because they hinder our restrictive eating efforts. When your date takes you to their favorite restaurant and you can’t find anything that fits in your diet, what do you do? Bail on the date? Make all sorts of special ordering accommodations? When your soccer team throws a spaghetti dinner the night before a tournament game, what do you do? Resort to being anti-social and stay home? Bring your own food because you fear what is being offered?

4. They hazardously cause you to shift focus from HEALTH to weight.

Healthy is defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as: showing physical, emotional and mental well-being, flourishing, not small or feeble.  Sure, health in terms of food intake is eating foods that nourish your body, but also enjoying foods that nourish your soul. Allowing yourself to have foods of all kinds: chocolate chip cookies AND acai berry smoothies.  When you are always focused on dieting and weight loss, you may lose sight of true health, compromising your wellbeing and health in the long run. 

5.  They deplete vital nutrients.

Diets typically involve eliminating a certain food or food group, leading to inadequate nutrition. Your body needs the right amount of ALL nutrients in order to function optimally. Your body requires an appropriate amount of carbohydrates so protein can get into the cell and properly repair it. Without enough dietary fat, you can’t absorb vitamins (A,E,D and K), some of which are also powerful antioxidants! You can pump yourself full of supplements all you want but without the right balance of protein, carbs and fats, those nutrients are ill equipped to do their job.

HERE’S THE ALTERNATIVE WE PROMISED YOU!!!

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There is a reason why the diet industry is a billion dollar industry. Diets don’t work! But they are good at training you to keep reinvesting in their empty promises. Want a better alternative?

Your body will fight tooth and nail to be balanced and healthy - if you are willing to tune in to what it is telling you, you will find lifelong sustainable habits that aren’t built around restricting certain foods and certain food volumes. What if you were to start listening to what your body is asking for and giving it what it wants? By tuning in, you are granting your body the opportunity to THRIVE where it needs and wants to be naturally.  Instead of attempting to control your hunger through “willpower” and restricting or avoiding certain foods, try to become attuned with your eating. Aim to be mindful about what you’re eating, and try to listen to your body’s signals of when you’re hungry or satisfied. Start by sitting down at a table with your meal, without any distractions, and give yourself permission to eat whatever you want. Take note of the taste and texture of the food and how satisfied you feel during and after eating it. Continue repeating these experiments.  Over time, this will help you figure out what makes you feel the best and how much and of what your body actually needs. Sounds very liberating to me!

Beware of Holiday “Diet Talk”: How Do YOU Navigate Diet Talk In Your Social Circles?

As we head into the start of the holiday weekend, I wanted to leave you with the last blog in our “Diet talk” series. Thank you guys for the awesome conversation; I've enjoyed sharing with you all!

Let's dive into the diet talk conversation one last time, shall we? While this diet talk banter has been normalized and rewarded in today’s society, it doesn’t mean people are immune to its negative effects. While comments like “I really need to stop eating sugar” and “OMG, my face looks so chubby in that picture” may seem harmless, they perpetuate unhealthy thoughts about food, body image, and overall health.

The easiest (and probably most natural) response to self-sabotage is simply to go along with it—agree with your friend or add a comment of your own. However, that’s really only making the problem worse. Picture this: you’re at a holiday party with your friends, one mentions that she’s being “good” by avoiding the cookies, and the rest of the group PRAISES her!

“That’s right girl!” “Go YOU  for not giving into temptation”!!

(and the crowd goes wild)

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All of a sudden, the delicious cookie that you ate five minutes earlier has made you “bad” and potentially less “strong”. Now what? You might feel guilty for eating it, you might regret it, you might avoid having any more treats for the rest of the night, or you might come to the conclusion that your eating for the day has been “ruined” and proceed to eat cookies until you feel ill. None of these outcomes seem all that great.

Has something like this scenario ever happened to you? If so, how did you handle it? How can you defend your own feelings and choices and try to change the mindset of your friends without coming off condescending?  I have my own thoughts, but right now I really want to hear YOURS!

13 Polite Things To Say That Will Help You Swerve Toxic Diet Talk!

Hey everyone! Great discussion in the last blog- loved hearing about your experiences with diet talk and how you have navigated it :) 

Still feeling lost about exactly what to say at those holiday parties? Some of you reached out and shared your concern for not having specific phrases in your arsenal! Here are a few lines that you can use to change the subject, share information, or explain why you don’t want to talk about diet. Feel free to tweak them as you see fit/make them authentic to you.

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13 Polite Things To Say That Will Help You Swerve Toxic Diet Talk!

  • “I can tell you’re really into your new diet, but I feel like talking about it is making it hard for us to enjoy this meal together!”

  • “I don’t think that your breakfast was ‘too big’--I think that it will energize you for this morning meeting.”

  • “Following a diet like that seems like a ton of work, what if you just tried listening to your body’s inner hunger cues?”

  • “Life’s too short to worry about food--let’s just enjoy it instead.”

  • “I think there are more meaningful things that we could spend our time talking about.”

  • “I’m trying not to focus on calories or weight, and have been noticing that I feel a lot better about myself.”

  • “Do the calories in that food really matter if it tastes amazing and makes you feel good?”

  • “I’m doing my best to listen to my body’s needs, and hearing diet talk makes it harder to do.”

  • “Do you really think that would happen? I don’t think eating an extra bread roll would ‘ruin’ anything at all!”

  • “Don’t worry about how many grams of fat it has, all foods fit into a healthy diet.”

  • “I really hate to hear you talk about yourself that way! Why does your dress size matter so much to you?”

  • “I’m happy that you feel great after losing weight, but remember that I love you at any size!”

  • “Let’s talk about something else instead. What are your plans for this weekend?”

Using these phrases won’t be perfect in every situation, but they’re good to have in your back pocket for when you need to interject. Eventually, your productive messages will likely rub off on other people. Help change the social norm from diet talk to more loving, mindful, and body-positive conversations! If you have noticed any differences in your relationships with both food and your loved ones since becoming more mindful of Diet Talk PLEASE share! <3