Happy Friday peeps!
Today I wanted to talk about the craziness that occurs around the term 'diet'. I seriously think it's time we ditch the term 'diet' from our vocabulary, this little four-letter word has a lot to answer for and quite honestly, it does funny things to us women.
Have you noticed if you say you're on a diet the people around you become nutritional and body image experts? They try to tempt you, break your resolve or lead you astray...well that's how I felt when I was trying to lose the weight I'd gained about 5 years ago. Yes, I wasn't hugely over weight, but I was heavier than I should be for my height and I wasn't healthy. I loved chocolate, biscuits and anything revolving around pastry. So my diet really did need an overhaul. Yet people encouraged me to maintain my unhealthy lifestyle, mainly I think, to avoid taking a long hard look at their own lifestyle.
The other thing I noticed is the effect the word 'diet' had on my internal dialogue. As soon as I decided to diet it's like a switch flicked in my head, I began restricting (carbs and calories) and all I could focus on was the foods I couldn't eat! Pair this with the point above and quickly enough I was trapped in a damaging dieting cycle. My self-esteem was taking a battering and I had drifted so far away form the concept of health, it wasn't funny.
When I decided to go plant-based, something in me changed. I no longer thought of myself as on a 'diet' and I no longer told people I was on a diet. I simple said I was eating plant-based foods, when people asked 'why?' I answered for my health - that was it! And that response seemed sufficient to them. No more coercion into eating unhealthy foods, they just let me be. I made a mental shift too; I focused on the abundance of foods I could eat, rather than the foods I couldn't, I stopped restricting my portion sizes and stopped depriving myself of things I wanted. I managed to ditch the diet and all the crap that goes along with it!
All this highlighted to me how important your mental approach to healthy eating impacts the changes you are trying to implement. For me I think it's the biggest reason to why some people do well following one style of eating and others don't. It's the head space they are in!
So if you want to change your eating habits these are my top tips:
1. Think long term - yeh it's cliché but it's true! Being healthy has no end point; your health is something you build upon your whole life. Right now you might be focusing on nutrition, in the future exercise and way in the future, aspects like spirituality or relationships.
2. Ditch the diet - it only has a negative impact on your psyche, your self-esteem and your sanity. Don't tell people you are on a diet and don't perceive yourself as on a diet. This will help you break that dieting mentality.
3. Don't tell everyone! - contrary to popular goal setting advice, which claims telling people will keep you accountable to your goals, when it comes to the food you eat it doesn't work. Like I said, people become experts in nutrition and body image as soon as you use the word diet. Tell them you're doing it for your health and leave it at that.
4. Focus on abundance - there are so many foods you can eat, especially eating plant-based foods. I make plant-based versions of whatever I fancy, I don't restrict my carbs, sugars or fats - I eat what my body feels it needs and because of this, I never feel deprived.
5. Be kind to yourself - changing your behaviour and mind takes time. Talk nicely about yourself and do something that makes you feel pampered and cared for on a regular basis.
Being healthy really is about ditching the diet and re-connecting with your body - something that I'm super passionate about. Only you are the expert on you and for some of us, it can take a while to figure out what makes our bodies and our minds healthy!