“That’s the lie diet culture tells us: that if we’re thinner or if we fit a certain dress size, we’ll be cooler, happier and more worthy of love. But actually, you get to that elusive place and you realize you still have all your problems, but you’ve added this extra layer of guilt and shame around food as well.”Laura Thomas
With the popularity of diet trends like Paleo, NSNG, and the Mediterranean Diet, everyone trying to lose weight isn’t necessarily counting calories or points. However, counting and restriction are the first things that come to mind when someone mentions that they are “dieting” or trying to lose weight.
What if the goal changed to be more internal instead of based on appearance?
Eating healthily doesn’t mean counting calories.
How I Felt Cutting Calories
I spent about a year counting my calories and religiously maintaining a calorie deficit to lose 40 pounds. During that time, I could feel my body becoming easier to move and I felt so many emotions:
- Power – As my waistline got smaller and that number on the scale kept going down, I felt more and more powerful, like I finally had control over my body.
- Frustration – There were times I really just wanted to enjoy a treat, but I “couldn’t” because it might throw my off my weight loss trend.
- Stress – If I didn’t know all of the ingredients in a meal someone else had prepared for me, it would throw me over the edge, because I couldn’t be sure my calories were 100% accurately accounted for.
- Excitement – The more I saw results in the mirror, the more excited I became.
All in all, I was kind of an emotional roller-coaster during the calorie counting days, and it turned out not to be a sustainable way for me to live.
How I Felt Going Back to My Old Way of Eating
Once I had reached a size I felt good about maintaining, I stopped counting the calories. I had a good idea by that point of how many calories were in foods I ate regularly, so I felt pretty good about that.
Eventually though, life got more and more busy and I began to be pulled in a million different directions. I gave up on putting effort into healthy eating and opted just to do whatever was easiest in the moment.
I started to feel like absolute crap . . . real quick!
Not only was my body packing fat back on at a rapid pace, my emotions were all over the place, I was upset that all my hard work had been undone, and I lost all motivation to keep working toward my goals in any area of my life.
Where I Am Now in the Learning Process
I’ve been stuck in that “old way of eating” hamster wheel for over a year now. Over and over I tell myself that I’m going to get back on track, but I’m a little lost in determining where to go from here.
Hubs and I tried out NSNG (no sweeteners, no grains) for a while. But, that was still just restrictive enough that I found myself in the same type of restrict and binge cycle calorie-cutting had caused.
Restriction isn’t an option. I’m at a point in this journey where I really need to train myself to simply pay attention to my body and eat what I need, nothing more and nothing less.
My mindset continues to be around real foods, and keeping treats to a minimum, but I’m not putting restrictions on myself.
I’ve been learning more lately about the Intuitive Eating movement. And, I really feel that if my focus is on overall wellness and the simple concept of eating real foods to satisfaction, my body will naturally adjust to the size that it is healthiest.
No more calorie counting. No more restriction of foods. Just a simple plan to take care of my mind, body and spirit.
Healing Ourselves of the Diet Culture
It’s time to heal ourselves of the diet culture and find a healthy way to enjoy food again. No more counting and no more identifying foods as “good” or “bad.”
When the focus is shifted from weight loss to general wellness (body, mind and spirit), it’s so much easier to see the lasting damage dieting and restriction can cause to our mental health.
Enough is enough. What will your first step to healthfully removing restrictive habits from your life be?