I can guarantee, with almost 100% certainty, that I have tried every, single diet out there.
Paleo? Tried it.
South Beach? Tried it.
Slimfast? Tried it.
Whole30? Tried it.
Vegan? Tried it.
Gluten free? Tried it.
Gluten free vegan? Tried it.
Pescatarian? Tried it.
Calorie counting? Tried it.
Weight Watchers? Tried it.
Little colored containers? Tried it.
Counting macros? Tried it.
Vegetarian? Tried it.
Pescatarian? Tried it.
Keto? Tried it.
Atkins? Tried it.
Portion-controlled meal delivery? Tried it.
Raw food diet? Tried it.
Intermittent fasting? Tried it.
Master Cleanse? Tried it (several times)
Get the picture?
And I stopped doing each and every single one of them within a week.
I would spend hundreds of dollars on books, memberships, accessories, and, duh, food, only to go back to my old habits several days later.
And every single time, I would beat myself up for being a failure, while scrolling for the next diet plan that was going to “change my life.”
And every time I stopped a diet on Thursday that I’d begun on Monday, I always felt that the problem was with me, and never with the culture of extreme-diets and size equaling worth that I had immersed myself in.
I have a strange feeling that I am not alone in this experience.
Actually, it’s more than a feeling. It’s fact.
Besides the many, many, many studies that have been done about the ineffectiveness of fad diets on sustainable weight loss, I have been working with women for long enough to know that my experience is not unique. We are inundated day in and day out with advertisements and books and articles and tv shows reminding us that our size is a problem and that we need to find a solution. But none of the solutions we’re given seem to have a long-lasting effect.
Why is that?
In short? One word: bio-individuality.
So, what does that mean?
Bio-individuality is the term used to describe each and every human. We are all individuals when it comes to our biological make up. And this is the reason why Paleo might work for some people, but not all people.
When we read about a new diet, it feels like this thing is gonna be the holy grail. You’ve got info from the author, you’ve got testimonials from people who the diet has worked for, you’ve got a ton of “facts” as to why every other diet is lethal to your system and going to kill you, and on and on and on…
And of course information on a new diet is going to read like that, because they want you to try this new diet. There is no way that a diet plan would sell if it said: “this works for some people, but not everyone, and maybe not you.” That’s what the asterisk next to the results pictures are for, so that waaaaaay down at the bottom, you can be reminded in the world’s tiniest print that Kathy H. from Boise’s results are “not typical.”
And not only are they not typical because this diet might not work for everyone, but they’re also not typical because people who are following diets or routines for a book or program that’s about to be sold are being monitored and helped and guided and supported by a team of people who want that book or program to succeed. The success of Kathy H. means the success of the book or program. They basically help these people to live in a terrarium in order to reach peak success.
We do not live in a terrarium. We can have a support system, we can have a team, but we also have lives that certain restrictive diets might not work with. And rather than feeling like this diet or plan was not made to fit with us, we immediately blame ourselves for not being able to stick to a plan or diet.
But guess what? Our lives aren’t the problem. The problem is that the diet industry is making food the enemy. And it’s intentionally stressing us out so that we can no longer trust ourselves to be able to achieve optimal health on our own terms. They’re telling us that we’re the problem and they’re the solution. They’re pretending to give us our power back, but their whole premise is on taking our power away. They’re telling us we can’t listen to ourselves for the answer, we have to find the answers within them. And the craziest part of that is? They don’t even know us!
These books or videos or whatever? They don’t know your life! They don’t know if raw vegetables make you nauseous or if lactose gives you diarrhea. And weirdly enough, you might not even know those things about yourself because you’ve spent so long following other people’s rules that you don’t even know what works for you anymore. Creepy, right?
Our bodies are incredible when it comes to healing themselves. They can fight disease, they can repair broken proteins, and they can create new cells when others have been destroyed! The body’s job is to find equilibrium, health, and balance, in order for us to survive. And yet, we keep getting messages from the diet and fitness industry that our body is faulty and we need someone else to tell us how to manage it.
In an article entitled, Mind Over Medicine, Dr. Lisa Rankin describes this situation by saying that the current theory is we should be handing ourselves over “the way you might bring your broken-down car to a mechanic.” And let them work on it with, “little or no input from you.”
To keep going with the car metaphor: we are taking a backseat on our journey to health and letting other people (who don’t know us) drive. And all the while, our internal voice, our heart center, our gut instinct, is getting quieter and quieter and quieter…
Here’s something you might not know: certain cruciferous vegetables and certain acidic fruits make me bloat. Not only that, but they make me burp and fart and feel nauseous.
Here’s the thing: for the longest time, I didn’t know that either. And yet, because I was following another meal plan from yet another person who did not know me, I kept eating those things because I wanted to be skinny and gosh darnit I was gonna get there no matter how miserable it made me feel!
If we keep following outside influences to change our insides, we are never going to get where we want to go. And not only that: if we do get where we want to go? The chances of us staying there are very slim. Since many people out there are using diets as means to an end (IE: hitting a tiny goal weight) They’re not learning how to live a balanced life where they’re able to enjoy themselves without a serious amount of guilt or triggering a binge.
When I quit dieting I was really scared (“Oh my gosh, without someone telling me what I can and can’t eat I’m going to gain a million pounds!) But it was actually one of the most empowering and freeing things I ever did. It gave me the “keys to the car,” so to speak. Meaning, I got to decide what works best for my system. It also took the power of certain foods away. While the diet industry kept giving me miles-long lists of what is off-limits (which changed with every new plan I tried) I instead got to learn what I liked and what made me feel my best. I was also able enjoy things like cookies or pizza without feeling like I failed at something. Because newsflash: I didn’t and I never had.
When you’re on a restrictive diet there is no joy around food. There is no really tasting your favorite seasonal latte or your grandma’s famous chocolate cake. Everything is couched in guilt or counting of calories or weighing or measuring and nothing can possibly be sustainable in a world where eating is a joyless and overwhelming thing.
The entire reason I created Zen & Sugar was because I wanted people to feel freedom when it comes to their diet. I want people to be able to make themselves proud, rather than bowing down to whatever book, like, the latest “weight-loss guru” just came out with. Because you deserve to know what foods make you feel your best. And your body is smart enough to let you know what works.
So, your challenge for today is this: enjoy your food. Let go of what you’ve been told and instead focus on enjoyment. Tune in to how you feel. And I guarantee, your inner voice, your heart center, the powerhouse within that is you, will start to talk a little bit louder. And that, you gorgeous human, is the first step to food freedom and getting your power back.
Til next time,
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