How To Love (and Enjoy) Food Without Guilt
By Mercedes Turino
Your very best friend is in town on a short visit. She invites you out to dinner at a hip new Italian restaurant that makes their own handmade pasta, the sauce is even made from scratch using local and organic ingredients grown on a farm owned by the same family who runs the restaurant and the cheese is made in-house and uses milk from the well loved and well cared for cows on their farm. But you’re on a diet because you want to lose weight and you’ve already posted your ‘before’ picture on Instagram and gave yourself a deadline to post your newly slimmed down ‘after’ picture. The bridesmaid dress you’ll be wearing at your sister’s wedding next month is one size too small, on purpose, so you really can’t afford to screw up now.
You’re feeling conflicted. You look at your inspirational Pinterest board and see the quote: nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. You reconnect with your resolve to commit to your diet and pledge to decline the pasta. You’ll just have a salad, with the dressing on the side.
Except you’re already feeling anxious about going out to dinner with your friend because it’s stressful to deny yourself your favorite foods. You’re already feeling frustrated from counting calories over the last couple weeks and would do anything for a cheat meal that wouldn’t show up on the scale. Dieting is stressful. And it doesn’t work long-term.
Now imagine this…
Your friend calls, invites you out to dinner at this amazing new Italian restaurant and you say yes without a moment of hesitation. You hang up the phone and check to make sure your skinny jeans are clean. You’re looking forward to an evening of great food and even better conversation. Imagine the burden of constantly eating healthy being replaced by a greater sense of intuition that allows you to pursue health AND happiness in a way that is exciting and fun. Imagine you know how to feed both your body and your soul in a way that leaves you feeling fulfilled both physically and emotionally.
Don’t get me wrong, some people need to restrict certain foods for a specific treatment protocol. I’ve worked with clients who change their diet in order to heal anything from irritable bowel syndrome to anxiety and depression. But for the majority of us, this notion that eating healthy and losing weight requires completely eliminating “unhealthy” foods is really a dangerous myth.
A UCLA study found that two-thirds of those on a diet regain more weight than when they started.
Diets don’t work because deprivation leads to stress. When we have consistently high stress levels, it raises our cortisol levels, which in turn, causes our bodies to hold on to excess weight. This one of the biggest reasons why you may be holding on to those last 5 or 10 pounds! Denying yourself a plate of homemade ravioli can have an opposite effect. How happy are you right now?!
There are plenty of other reasons to be stressed. You don’t need to create more by depriving yourself any further. But this isn’t your green light to dive into that bag of Oreos in the back of your pantry, either. You want to lose weight without deprivation, restriction and added stress, right? So what do you do?
Lose The Weight Without Losing Your Mind
Have you ever sat down with a bowl of sea salt caramel Talenti or a really fabulous piece of cake? The first bite is amazing. Your taste buds rejoice and your brain lights up. But next thing you know, your bowl is empty. You feel unfulfilled and you want more, even though you weren’t even tuned in to the spoonfuls you just ate. Sound familiar?
Next time, try this. Turn off the TV. Turn off your phone. Turn off all distractions. And enjoy your dessert. Set your spoon down between bites. Taste it. Notice it. ENJOY it. All of it. Every single sweet, salty, creamy bite. The more you enjoy it- really enjoy it – without blame or shame, the greater likelihood you’ll be satisfied with that first bowl and not want to go back for more.
There’s a big difference between opening a box of Stouffers lasagna, popping it in the microwave and eating in front of the TV and sitting down to a hand-made, locally sourced meal with your favorite people. The emotional state you are in when you eat creates physical changes in your body that impact digestion, absorption and emotional fulfillment from your meal. Its about staying present, practicing mindfulness and connecting with your meal. The more connected you are to your food and to the experience of eating, the more you will find yourself making higher quality choices.
As you eat, think about where your meal came from. How did it get to your plate? Imagine the farmer who grew your vegetables, or cared for the animals that gave their lives for your nourishment. Think about how your body uses the nutrients to grow stronger and healthier. Stay connected.
Staying connected and giving yourself permission to fully and completely enjoy your food will take the stress out of dieting. As you learn to stay connected to your food, you will in turn become connected to your body and be led to make choices that support healing and strengthen your physical health. No willpower needed.
Mercedes Turino is a public speaker, transformational life coach specializing in self acceptance and intuitive nutrition and the founder of Healthy Intuition. Her virtual and individualized coaching programs help women identify and detach from their stress inducing, limiting beliefs, and gain a greater sense of freedom and emotional self-reliance.
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