Restrictive eating doesn’t work.
It is not your fault or lack of willpower.
When I ask people about their struggles with health and weight, they almost always say they are emotional eaters who don’t have any willpower. I used to believe this very thing about myself. I would try some restrive diet or eating plan, I could do it for 30 days or even longer at times but inevitably I would fall off the wagon and go crazy. I would often “fall off the wagon” when I was stressed so I must be an emotional eater. From that point forward I would eat all the things. I would gain back the weight. Back to beating myself up and thinking it was my fault.
Unfortunately for us, the diet industry profits wildly from the cultural messages that we get from this cycle. Are we all just defective emotional eaters with no willpower? Is it our fault because we aren’t good enough? If it is our fault, the solution is trying harder on the newest fad diet or by purchasing their products that will make it easier to lose weight. They make $66 billion a year praying on our insecurities.
There are many studies showing that dieting or restrictive eating doesn’t work for long term weight management. Yet we continue to blame ourselves….
I hear over and over from the women I work with “it worked well at first”, “I lost a ton of weight, but as soon as I stopped, I gained it all back”, “I just don’t have enough willpower.” STOP right there. You don’t have enough willpower? I want you to pause and make a mental list of all you have accomplished…. I don’t know about you but at the height of my struggle with food and health, I was very well accomplished. I got sober at the age of 18 and have stayed sober to this day (twenty years next week). I was a single teen mom and put myself through nursing school. I quit smoking (I smoked TWO packs a day, it was hardest thing I have ever done). I married my sweetie and managed our blended family household with parenting challenges and very complex schedules. I did well professionally. As a case manager, I managed VERY complex patient situations with grace. I have endlessly sought out personal growth and development opportunities. I have so much willpower!
How much freaking willpower does it take to eat perfectly for the rest of your life?
More than any of us have.
But it doesn't even matter because there is another solution, one that doesn't require the “willpower” to fight your body and the messages it gives us. A real, doable solution.
The solution is to LISTEN to our wise bodies. To TRUST the messages our bodies give us. The answer is to embrace eating food. We have to do it 3-6 times a day, everyday. Why would we even consider trying to fight against our bodies 3-6 times a day for the rest of our lives??!? Why would we believe the diet industry when they profit from selling us a message that we cannot be trusted and that we aren’t good enough.
I’ve had enough. I’m so tired of women feeling shame about eating. We all eat, none of us eat perfectly. I’m done letting you all believe it is your fault or that you aren’t good enough. It’s time to take responsibility for our health by rejecting the dieting industry and shaming culture. It is dieting that doesn’t work. It’s time to STOP beating ourselves up and to finally love and trust ourselves. You are good enough.
You might be thinking, “Wait, how am I supposed to do that?”
Start by letting go of judgement. Notice the messages you get from your body. Are you hungry? Craving more satisfaction in your palate or in your life? Are you stressed? Exhausted? Each message is a signal of a need that hasn't been met, TRUST it. Address those messages.
Still not convinced? Check out this article for more information.
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The first step to healing your relationship with food is reconnecting with the signals your body gives you. One of the ways to do that is by checking in with your hunger before you eat. Here's my spin on the traditional hunger scale..