"I’m going to enjoy myself today before my diet starts on Monday.”
"No, I can’t eat that because I have to get on the scale first thing in the morning.”
"I wish I could have some of that DELICIOUS food, but I will stick with my healthy stuff over here. I’m trying to lose a few pounds, ya know.”
"Its my cheat day- I cannot wait to eat anything I want, and finally be full!"
Who else is guilty of saying things like this? I know that I definitely have over the years. So many of us use our weight as THE barometer for our health. When we weigh more than we want to, we assume that we’re unhealthy or out of shape. With dread in our voice, we say that that we need to “go on a diet,” hoping that we can lose a few pounds. (No one steps on the scale and says, "Yes! I am at my ideal weight, I'm feeling healthy, and I'm going on a diet first thing in the morning!” At least, no one that I know!)
If we can just loose the weight, and reach our ideal thinness, then we’ll feel better about ourselves…or will we?
If becoming a nutritionist has taught me one thing, it’s that our weight is an incomplete way to measure our healthiness. Having personal goals related to weight loss can be an important step towards health, but it is more important to create sustainable habits that support your total health- mind, body, and soul.
So let's talk about diets for a moment. What are the first things that come to mind? Deprivation. Being hungry. Eating (or drinking) gross, green foods for weeks at a time. This type of dieting is not healthy, and does little good for our bodies. Here is why:
(1) We often don't eat enough, depriving our bodies of essential nutrients.
(2) We spend a lot of time/energy stressing about what foods to eat or not eat, and stress causes our bodies to store fat. Chris Kresser talks often about how “high levels of stress hormones cause us to eat more and store more fat, in turn reducing our ability to lose weight and keep it off.”
(3) Whether your “cheat day” is a reward for strict adherence to your unsatisfying food rules, or because you’ve fallen off the wagon, it creates a negative pattern of frustration and failure with your food. Over time, this mentality can be very damaging.
So why do we think that this type of diet is really helping? We have been taught that deprivation is the only way to be thin, and that being thin means being healthy. This is not true, and this false idea is actually causing our bodies more harm than good.
Friends, health is about a lot more than the number on the scale – and it’s certainly not about deprivation and living in misery! The point of a diet should be to help you learn creative new ways to fuel your body so it performs at it’s peak, allowing you to live your life to the fullest.
Health is about creating healthy, sustainable habits - not rules. Instead of focusing on a “diet,” let’s refocus on a lifestyle of eating real food that is nutrient dense and beneficial for our health. By eating whole foods that nourish our bodies, most of us will reduce inflammation, lose weight, and improve our moods naturally. And, eating this way can be delicious, too! Win-Win.
Since I became a mother of two little girls, I've become very aware of how I view and talk about food because my kids are always watching and listening. I don't want my daughters to learn that salads are only for people on diets or that vegetables should be choked down because they will help us lose weight. I want my kids to love food and not fear it. I want my kids to learn about balanced nutrition and understand the gift that real food is to their bodies, making them grow strong.
So, if we are going to move away from the typical crash diets, we need to look differently at food. Are we supposed to feel full after meals? Yes! Should we be constantly counting our calories? No! Do I have to swear off all desserts? Absolutely not!
So here is my challenge to you:
Put away the scale. The number it shows does not define you or your health. Everyone is built differently, so a specific number should never be our goal or identity.
Stop counting calories. Focus on eating fresh, whole and real foods that satisfy your body and appetite. And if you want a treat, go for it! Dark chocolate can be delicious and healthy. Enjoy it, savor it, be thankful for it!
Have fun. Experiment with cooking. Try a variety of foods and new flavor combinations.
Lets change our outlook on food. Healthy eating isn’t our enemy, and it’s not about weight loss. It’s an opportunity to living a different lifestyle. Our goal is to pursue health so that we can serve the God that has made us and in turn serve our family and our friends that he has blessed us with.
Let’s just throw the words “diet” and “weight loss” out the window for a while, and simply enjoy eating real foods!
I am Stephanie Hufford. Functional Nutritionist I Beautycounter I My Functional Life
I have always loved learning about health and nutrition. Eight weeks after our first daughter was born, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos and several severe food sensitivities. Over the past several years I have continued to research and try to be an advocate for my health. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I know that I feel better now than I ever have. I absolutely love to share what I have learned with others in order to help them find health and to live better lives as well. More than anything, I love sharing that there is hope. I want to encourage people not to give up on the life that God has blessed each of us with. It might take time, but it is worth it to feel alive again!