We know by now that deprivation diets are no good for the body and the mind but why?
I don’t think I can remember the first diet I went on. There was a whole lot of cottage cheese and lettuce though. I also remember feeling lethargic and lacking in energy.
I thought I had died and gone to hell.
Within 5 minutes of saying the words ‘diet,’ I started obsessing about food. I’d look at skinny women and think “Lucky bitch, you can eat anything! I have to virtually starve just so I can take a few pounds off to fit into jeans that are still two sizes bigger than yours”.
After a few days, I would inevitably ‘fall off the wagon’. Then I would hate that I was unable to stick to anything and would be all “oh well may as well go crazy for the rest of the day and start again tomorrow. How much harm can I do?”
And so started my love-hate relationship with food and the on again off again diet and deprivation that left me feeling as if I had in some way failed myself.
Each year there would be another kilo on the scales.
There was the Atkins diet, the lose 5lb in 1-week diet, the all bread one day all you can eat the next diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, low fat, and the grapefruit diet. I tried them all.
Many young girls and women were doing exactly as I was and the skinny ones that weren’t, well they never seemed to eat at all.
Constantly dieting is not healthy or normal.
Hating yourself for eating something delicious is not normal.
Worrying over not being the perfect shape is not normal.
Deprivation to lose weight or keep weight off is not normal.
The pressure we are made to feel about how we should look feeds this diet culture and completely screws with our heads.
Obsessive, compulsive behaviour around food is born from restriction and deprivation. That’s the way the brain works. Our brains are hardwired to survive and part of being able to survive is food. As soon as we restrict it our brains fight back!
We are in this vicious cycle of hate out body, deprivation, fall of the wagon, hate ourselves.
Sooooo not normal!
What if we let go of the idea of restriction? And what if we let go of judgement altogether and instead had a gentle curiosity around how and what we eat?
What if we valued how we feel and good health, instead of how we look and make choices around that?
We need to learn to listen and connect to our bodies. We need to be mindful about how food makes us feel, does it give us energy, does it make us sluggish and sap our energy. It’s also important to be mindful around how we eat and when we eat. Are we chewing our food and taking our time or wolfing it down (I am such a wolfer!).
When we eat where are we on the hunger scale, so ravenous we clean the fridge out of everything bar that stuff in a container which you have no idea about what it is, or just slightly hungry. Are we eating because we need to fuel ourselves or because we’re tired, sad bored or any number of other emotions?
It is important psychologically and physically to break out of the cycle of diet and deprivation and move into a more mindful, self-caring space that is free from judgement. And guess what when you do, there is so much more peace and ease.