During this time of year, we get motivated to lose some weight so we try a new diet with a twist like eat all of the spinach you want but don't eat pickles. New fad diets come out every week. I can remember trying one that had me eating only beets on one day and then tuna the next. When we eat utilizing these types of diets, we are eating in a restrictive eating cycle. It is very hard to stick with these types of diets over time, because we feel deprived. So we start cheating and then eventually swing to an overeating cycle. This is the yo-yo pattern.
Here in an article by Michelle May, M.D. we learn terms to help us determine if our eating pattern is restrictive.
Nutrition information is a tool, not a weapon—and certainly not a religion! As you learn to manage your weight in this abundant food environment, remember that your goal is a healthy lifestyle, not a lifelong restrictive diet. The distinction between healthy eating and restrictive dieting is important because restriction usually leads to feelings of deprivation, cravings, overeating, and guilt followed by another round of restriction. This is what I call the eat-repent-repeat cycle.
Work of Art or Paint-by-Number?
The difference between healthy eating and restrictive dieting is the difference between a work of art and paint-by-number. Either way, you end up with a nice picture… until you get up close to take a look.
Healthy Eating vs.
All foods fit
Good or bad
By the clock
Your Picture of Health
Is the “picture of health” you’re painting constrained by rigid lines and someone else’s choice of colors? Or does it express your individuality, your preferences, and your lifestyle? Choose now how you want to create your work of art. Here are specific steps:
- Filter everything you read, hear, and say by asking, “Is this restrictive in nature?”
- Begin to monitor your little voice. (It may be helpful to journal so you capture the real essence of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings and choices when it comes to food.) When you notice restrictive dieting thoughts from the second column above, gently replace them with true healthy eating thoughts from the first column.
- Conventional wisdom may have you convinced that you are incapable of managing your weight without rigid rules. Look for role models, support, and resources to help you relearn to trust yourself.
- Use nutrition information as a tool not a weapon—and definitely not a religion!
- Make the healthiest choice you can without feeling deprived. All foods fit into a healthy diet using balance, variety, and moderation. (Click here for a guided audio lesson: Deciding What to Eat)
- Let go of the belief that you need to eat perfectly. Accept that you’ll sometimes regret certain choices you make—that is part of healthy eating. When you don’t get caught up in guilt and shame, you’re able to learn from your experiences.
- Repeat often: “It’s just food and I can learn to trust and nourish myself without restriction.”
- Discover joy in creating your own masterpiece!