While we think we can only have dysfunctional relationships with people, we can have them with food, too. See if you fit into any of these dieting profiles to identify where you are…and how you can free yourself from a lifetime of dieting.
1. The Serial Dieter – For you, dieting is a lifestyle. You’ve been watching your intake, counting calories and been consumed with your food intake for so long you couldn’t imagine life any other way. For you, food is the enemy, it can’t be trusted, it wreaks havoc on your body and your mind…it’s also an exhausting and frustrating way to live.
The solution – a great place to start is by getting in touch with your hunger versus eating due to appetite. With hunger, your body is telling you it needs to be fed as opposed to the clock, the size of the plate, the smell of something delicious or the commercial you just saw on TV. With appetite, the “need” for food is triggered by a thought, feeling or emotion and you’ll crave something specific. With hunger, you may feel dizzy, lightheaded, your stomach will rumble and just about any food will do. Knowing the difference, responding to hunger and finding an alternative to eating due to appetite is your first step to ending the “serial dieting” lifestyle.
2. The Grazer – Afraid to sit down to a regular meal, you choose to “pick” all day. Unfortunately, this strategy leaves you eating constantly, with no sense of satiety, satisfaction or completion. There’s no beginning and no end to a meal so you don’t know when to stop. Even if your choices are healthy, without a system to measure your intake you may be taking in way more than what your body actually needs.
The solution – For you, a non-negotiable rule may work, like “I will eat every morsel of food sitting down.” This way, you can still have 3 meals along with an afternoon snack and evening dessert but you’ll be much more mindful of what you’re consuming. Individual portion-sized snacks and desserts will also help you stay in control of how much you’re taking in.
3. The Carb Loader – You’re still hanging onto the idea that any type of fat is the enemy. As a result, you’re taking in way too many calories in the form of carbohydrates, which leaves you constantly hungry, encourages binge eating and mood instability, while contributing to excess weight along with many chronic illnesses and conditions.
The solution – With the simple solution of always pairing any portion-controlled serving of carbohydrate with a form of quality protein (example: apple with peanut butter, whole grain crackers with light cheese) you’ll be much more satisfied with less. That feeling of satiety will prevent the need for “carb hopping,” where you have some crackers, then cookies, pretzels, dry cereal…you get the idea.
4. The Extremist – You’re either on or off, good or bad, or all or nothing at any given time. Because of this, you have a “diet mentality” which has you believing that the only way to get to and maintain a healthy weight is through extreme deprivation. Unfortunately, dieting leads to binge eating because of the deprivation it brings, so when you can’t take any more dry, grilled, plain chicken and broccoli, you go crazy and head right back to what you were eating which caused the weight gain in the first place.
The solution – Find a middle ground. You’ve spent years (maybe decades) living this way and it’s chipping away at your waistline as well as your health, confidence and self-esteem. For you, the 80/20 rule may work where you’re eating healthfully 80% of the time leaving the other 20% for snacks, treats and indulgences. Planning for these treats gets you off the diet roller-coaster because you’ve eliminated the need to get to the finish line…only to go crazy once you get there.
5. The Latest Craze Dieter – The minute someone tells you about the newest diet craze…you’re on it. In your dieting history, you’ve eliminated complete food groups, lived on close to single ingredients, had to create some crazy concoctions and had to deal with some really unpleasant side effects in the process. You’ve tried it all and at this point, you can unofficially be a professional diet reviewer…although you’d rather not because you’re still struggling with the same weight issues you’ve been battling for years.
The solution – Get your power back. You’re so used to giving your power away because you assume everyone knows better than you. That’s simply not true. Knowing what’s best for you is where lasting change happens, so while it’s wise to get educated on what healthy eating really entails, tune in to what can work best for you while tuning in to what makes your body thrive.
6. The Guilt Tripper – For you, every sweet, treat or food choice you feel is unhealthy is eaten with a side of guilt. Because of that, there’s no satisfaction when eating, which leads you to feel continuously frustrated, aggravated, guilty and filled with shame when it comes to food. Things like “I’m so bad,” ” I can’t believe I just ate that,” and “No wonder I’m so fat” constantly play in a never-ending negative tape loop in your head.
The solution – By giving yourself permission to indulge now and then, you’ve eliminated the need to feel guilty about it. For you, pre-planning your indulgences and making the commitment to enjoy them thoroughly will reduce the amount of indulgences you have while truly allowing you to enjoy the food…and then move on.
A healthy relationship with food starts by identifying where you are now, so you know what needs to be changed. You can have your cake and eat it too…as long as it’s carefully planned, enjoyed and accounted for.