It's Time to Let Go of Diet Programs & Create a Healthy Relationship with Food.

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Today I have a really raw, candid discussion for you. Recently on Instagram, I asked the question about your thoughts and experiences surrounding diet and nutrition programs, and your answers just compelled me to speak about this. You guys responded back with your experiences about many different programs like Weight Watchers, Noom, Beach Body, etc.. and there are some common themes that stood out to me. Before we dive in, I just want to say that no matter what your experience was, it doesn’t make you wrong or bad for having tried a diet program. It shows that you have goals and motivation to improve your health and wellbeing!


BUT you are also not alone if you are feeling like these solutions have left you feeling defeated or frustrated.


I had that "will run for pizza" mindset for a long time, thinking that I had to either earn or burn off my favorite foods. Can anyone relate?

On Instagram, I received comments like this: “continual counting and tracking made me hate my body”… and I’m just guessing that’s probably not the outcome she was looking for.

Another, “The programs I’ve tried aren’t sustainable

And another, “I’ve tried so much but never does anyone help you with mindset. That makes sense though, because once you change someone’s mindset, then they don’t need your product.


WOAH. How powerful is that? And it makes total sense. Every time we sign up for one of these programs it has a starting time, and an ending time. And when it ends, we’re left high and dry, maybe thinking we should do it again, or look for another product or plan... We end up feeling like we’re stuck in this continual cycle of counting and tracking and weighing that takes the fun out of food, puts stress on your relationship with food, and makes you feel like you are failing. What seems to be the worst part is, even when you make it through the 21 day program or 6 month program it always comes to an end – and that’s when you realize you haven’t actually changed any habits or practices to be sustainable. So we usually fall right back into whatever we were doing before the program and the weight comes back, you feel defeated, etc.

The bottom line is: these programs are about losing weight, not gaining health.

We need to shift our mindset from the “quick fix” weight loss goal, to prioritizing sustainable habit change – which naturally settles your body into a comfortable, healthy state.

 

Let's talk about the idea of Food Freedom as a way to break away from diet cycles and begin to develop a healthier relationship with food.

Food Freedom (not food free-for-all) it doesn’t mean that we don’t care about what we eat; it just means that we care a little bit differently. We are in control of our choices. We have the freedom to enjoy food and feel good about the choices that we make! My personal place of food freedom and improved food relationship took a long time... years. But now it feels so, so good. This improved relationship is so obvious to me when I notice things like a couple of my favorite cookies left in my fridge in plain sight, and that I'm not even craving them. And I didn’t have to hide them. I didn’t have to restrict myself to not eat them. I was free to eat them if I wanted to (I had eaten a few already) but my body doesn’t crave them like a "forbidden fruit" when I’m not forcing myself to stay away from them. Trust me, this was not always the case and it’s been a long journey to get here. The biggest thing for me that helps me stay in control and have food freedom is that most of the time when I’m deciding what I want to eat I’m picking things that are going to make me feel good. What food is going to fuel my body and give me energy and make me feel like I’m thriving and satisfied and happy? And, most of the time, that is food that is really nourishing: fruits, salads, wraps, granola, healthy stir frys, my favorite foods!

I make food choices from a place of love for my body, and for the work that my body does and has to do.

When you make your choices from a place of love rather than a place of fear, there’s no room for guilt. Because sometimes the choice I make is to eat take-out, or a quesadilla, or a cookie, and that’s okay! Because I know I make nourishing choices for my body every day in one form or another, and sometimes it's loving to give our bodies a little bit of our favorite stuff, too.



3 ways to cultivate more food freedom in your life:

1. Nourish: keep this word in the forefront of your mind! It’s all about choosing foods that are going to fuel your body. Nourishment comes from a place of positivity and abundance. It's about adding more of what fuels us. Write this down, stick it on your fridge, repeat the mantra “I choose foods that nourish me”. Whatever works for you, make this your priority. It's pretty difficult to truly think about nourishing and restricting at the same time. 2. Take your “fun foods” off the pedestal. You don’t have to earn “fun foods” or achieve dessert. Change the narrative you tell yourself about treats/earning/rewards, and put these foods back into the big spectrum of all other foods. Some choices are more or less nourishing, some are more or less tasty, but none are something to be earned or achieved. Putting anything on a pedestal (in a position of power) not only takes away our control, but makes everything else less satisfying, because we’re just thinking and wishing for that more desirable option. When you give yourself the freedom and the power to eat those foods you feel your body wants to, you stay in control.


Along with this, let me just say: Get rid of the idea of a “cheat day." Cheating is never the right way to get to the top, is it? Healthy relationships don't involve cheating. If our goal is to improve our overall health and well-being, why would we want to cheat? It doesn't make a lot of sense to say, “I have a healthy relationship to food and personal wellness all week except Saturday." Not to mention, when we save all our “fun foods” for Saturday, we tend to indulge way more than we typically would or even want to, because we fear we won't see those foods again for a long time! (again, operating from a place of fear instead of love) You are in control of your food choices. So when you enjoy a cookie, or a few potato chips, you are not cheating on your relationship with your health. You are enjoying some of your favorite foods when it feels good or right, because you have FOOD FREEDOM! 3. Eat more sooner! Coming out of diet culture, this can be a tough idea, because the mentality for so long has been, "How little can I get away with eating?" When we have weight loss goals or are trying to eat healthier, the default mode is to eat less. Let's go back to tip #1, NOURISH, and remember that it really isn't about eating less. We are here to nourish our bodies. When we eat more sooner, we are more in control of our food choices later. When we fuel early, we have more energy for life, work, workouts, etc. It prevents feeling starving at 3pm and looking for any snack foods you can get your hands on (we've all been there, right?)


If you're hungry, eat a snack. If an afternoon snack gives you an energy boost and helps you make choices you feel good about later, go for it! This won't "ruin your dinner" but instead honors your hunger cues, offers your body some nourishment, and helps you maintain control of your eating.

 

What do you think of the idea of Food Freedom?

Do these tips for starting sound exciting or scary, or both?


I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below, or head over to Instagram to send a DM or comment on my most recent post.


You are worthy of living and capable of creating a healthy lifestyle you love. 🤍 1:1 Coaching: http://www.bewellwithsteph.com/wellnesscoaching Be Well Together Membership: http://www.bewellwithsteph.com/together Want to chat first? http://www.bewellwithsteph.com/workwithme

 

Prefer to listen to this topic? You can, here!

(I elaborate a lot more on some of these important, ideas, too.)


 


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