In the age of every fad diet imaginable, it is tempting to try just about all of them. However, the pitfalls of dieting make the standard diet regimen (restriction, calorie counting, and/or major food choice shifts) less than ideal for making long term change. The challenges of dieting are plentiful but these three are serious hurdles.
Intense Food Relationship
There are so many important relationships to cultivate in life – like with our spouse – to waste this type of energy on food. Often diets set us up with an entanglement to the food we eat. The foods are either “good” or “bad” and how we consume those foods makes us a “success” or “failure”. Think of how many times we have counted a day as a “cheat day” on a diet. Cheating is not in our vocabulary. This intense focus on food consumption also brings our attention constantly back to food. There is certainly value in understanding the patterns with which we eat and behaviors related to food, but if the relationship we experience with food is anything but pleasant, it is time to rethink the relationship.
The language we use around food has become ridiculous. “I was horrible today” is a common way to sum up how we ate through the day. If we are cultivating feelings or talking about food in any way that breaks us down instead of building us up, it’s time to examine the language we use so that we can start to flip the script. This may require a good therapist, journaling, or a mind clearing exercise practice, but it will be worth it!
Working From the Top of a Pyramid Down
Most diets have us start at the top of a pyramid without ever addressing what is necessary to hold up the pyramid. Many diet programs start at a peak – only consuming a narrow selection of foods – without considering real life or behaviors outside of food consumption (Hello – kids at home that aren’t into cabbage soup and now we are cooking two dinners. No way!) Our food choices and behaviors need to be built on a strong foundation just like building up our families or a new business.
Because food is fuel for our bodies and we eat all day long, this is a perfect avenue to consistently treat ourselves with great respect and kindness and show our children the same thing. Food can become a bonding experience when we spend time together in the kitchen, eat meals together where laughter or important topics can be included, or spend time at the local farmers market. Food is a huge parenting opportunity – an avenue to develop a positive culture and mindset within the family.
If you are ready to make a change and the dieting approach has proved less than ideal, consider making a nutrition nudge – a small change such as switching from soda to water or a piece of fruit for a snack instead of salty chips. A simple change is a perfect starting place and paves the way to long term success.