Diets have been in vogue since the mid-seventies. It's all the rage to get on a diet to achieve the perfect Hollywood figure. Most diets involve the elimination of certain foods from your daily eating. More recently (the last 20 years) there has been a trend of eliminating whole categories of nutrients, like no fat or carbohydrates.
Something we fail to take into account is the limited knowledge we really have about food and how it affects our bodies. The science of nutrition is relatively new. There is much we don't know. Beyond that, nutrition is hard to research as it tends to become skewed from the moment the researchers begin to study it. It is virtually impossible to get accurate results from nutrition studies on humans. The moment you try to record what a person eats they change their eating habits or report differently than what they are eating.
This makes it next to impossible for someone else to tell you how you should eat. Each individual has different physiological needs, home environment and life challenges. All these things impact what and how we should eat. Only the individual holds the true knowledge about what foods they need to eat to have the healthiest life.
In the long-term, dieting leads to increased weight gain, risk of heart disease and difficulty regulating the body's metabolism.
In the mid 1980's there was a popular show on called Gimme a Break!. It was about a widower, his children and their housekeeper played by Nell Carter. The widower (played by Dolph Sweet) and Nell's character decide they both need to lose weight in order to be healthier for their family. The plan is they will challenge each other as encouragement.
During the 80's calorie restriction was the best known way to lose weight. There were many low-fat diet plans on the market and the big mantra was reduce your calories and increase your exercise. Theoretically this makes sense. If you move more and eat less you will lose weight. In practice it is rather simplistic and does not account for the quality of the food you are eating or the body's need to have certain nutrients from the diet.
At one point in the show both characters start talking about the foods they would love to eat. They have been exercising and eating only vegetables and they are both ravenous. The show goes to commercial with the characters heading into the kitchen for “a snack.” When the show resumes they are both asleep with their heads on the kitchen table and there is food on every surface. As they begin to come around, they realize they had gone way overboard and are both experiencing the sickening feeling of a food hangover. There are a series of “I can't believe we did this” comments. The show closes with both of them understanding that not eating to lose weight was a terrible idea and agree to a more moderate approach.
This is what dieting is like for most people. They try to conform to a prescribed diet plan. They ignore the body's cravings in an effort to follow the rules. People rely on willpower to get through the day. Anyone who has ever been on more than one diet knows what this feels like. Suddenly the effort is too much and their “willpower” fails. The guilt over not being able to “succeed” at the diet affects their self-esteem and a cycle of negativity and deprivation ensue.
At that point what does it matter and the eating begins, putting the dieter right back where they started. Being a healthy weight and eating right doesn't have to be this difficult. And it doesn't have to involve deprivation. Every person holds the knowledge of the foods that are perfect for them to be healthy and vibrant. Many of us have had this information suppressed. We lose our innate understanding of our cravings through systematic denial over years. The continual dieting destroys our ability to interpret what our body truly needs. We listen to what others tell us we “should” eat and try to deny what we want.
If this sounds like you, then you are in luck. There is a way to improve your health by eating foods you want and need while understanding your cravings and satisfying them without guilt or denial. Intuitive Eating is learning to understand your body and what it wants. It's about listening to what your body is asking for and satisfying it by adding in foods that are energy promoting. The foods you don't need will fall away as you tune into your body and feel better by listening to your body.
If you want to learn more about Intuitive Eating, how to apply it to your life and what it means for living a high energy life, you owe it to yourself to check out this FREE Introduction to Intuitive Eating. There is an end to terminal dieting. It begins here.
Theresa Grisanti has been studying and applying her understanding of health, nutrition and intuitive eating for more than 15 years. Her training at the Institiute for Integrative Nutrition, included instruction from leaders in the holistic healing field, such as Andrew Weil and Mona Lisa Schultz. Find out more about Theresa and what she's up to at Seeds of Life.