The first definition of diet is “the kinds of food a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” Diet refers to the typical approach to food that you take! The definition continues to unfurl as “a regular occupation or series of actions an individual takes.” So, a diet can be referring to how one consumes information, like a diet of books, or a diet of rest, a diet of exercise, etc. It is “a way of doing” something. Culturally, the term diet is mostly associated as a restricted pattern of eating to achieve a specific outcome, most often weight loss. The term diet doesn’t have been to good or bad, but the context through which we associate it paints our perspective of it. Have you ever heard someone say with satisfactory joy, “I’m on a diet!”?
Diets are interwoven with and inextricable from our mindset. For this reason, adapting the cultural meaning of “diet” will never achieve you the results you really want. Sure, you may lose a few pounds or decrease bloating for a couple of weeks. But when “diet” means a restriction on specific foods, or amounts thereof, we maintain that we can once again, resume consumption of what we are restricting. Writing this out, it is even clearer than when simply thought- diets are not longterm solutions.
Do you diet for weight loss?
If so, I’m here to tell you that diets, in this use of the word, don’t work. Restricting food to achieve weight loss will provide short term, temporary results. Wait, didn’t I just say they don’t work? Yes. Short term; brief; temporary. Is that what you want in life? One good month, then six not so good ones until you decide to restrict x, y or z again? Or, how about a good day, after you work so hard to get into that dress for the wedding or reunion, followed by a downward slide back to where you started because you again had access to everything you wouldn’t allow yourself to eat for so long?
Do you see the mentality themes here?
All or Nothing. This or That. When this, I’ll that. We see extremism and lack of balance. When we take balance away, we’ll always be sliding from one side of the see-saw to the other.
If see-saws, yo-yos and roller coasters are your thing, and you don’t mind your body, mind, mood, and clothing size aligning with that up and down, back and forth way of living, then go for it.
But, I (and gazillions of psychologists, scientists, biologists, and more) know that deep down, your body, your mind and your spirit all crave consistency, security and stability! So, however aware you are (or are not) of this conflict between your deep core self(or selves, however you want to look at it) and your behavior in daily life, it will show up in your feelings of satisfaction (or lack thereof) with everything.
Consciously, you may say to yourself, “yes, I want to fit into those jeans,” or “I just want to look good for the party,” accepting a temporary success as an acceptable reality, but there are parts of you, rooted in your core identity and desires that are subconsciously not being heard. In a sense, we allow the external influences (appearance, cultural fads, so-called expert advice) to motivate our behavior instead of seeking internal confidence for our decisions. When our mentality, approach to life, is governed by external, short term, immediately gratified standards and desires, our inner world (the results we get, our personal experience in life) will mock that paradigm.
If we agree, thus far, we also need to acknowledge that, on a creation level, our bodies were all designed to consume, metabolize and process foods in a specific way. While we all have individualities and nuances that make us unique, the core function of our digestive process, front to back, is essentially based on the same tenets.
The problem so many of us experience related to these statements, ideas, beliefs, is that there are few concrete certainties. As noted, we want security. We are hard wired this way, so if something- like learning and basing food decisions on our own unique body- feels ambiguous, it feels like the safer choice to adhere to some exuberant and confident claim about a specific diet. “Lose up to 10 lbs in 21 days” feels much more certain than “uncover your core needs and learn to listen to your body.”
But, the reality is that this is the reality, and the choice we face day to day regarding our own wellness and perception of it. This conversation cannot be summed up in one blog post, so prepare for more in the weeks to come. We can break down what is certain in this cloudy picture, learning the hard science and learning how to apply it in ways that are aligned with our not-so-concrete bodies.
Until then, will you join the conversation in our free Facebook Community? I want to hear what your experience has been with diets, what your greatest struggles are, and how I can help you learn from yourself. I want to know what your concept of diet is, and how your life experiences has painted or influenced that perception. These experiences and things we’ve learned are what create our thoughts and beliefs about any topic. And, once we know what we believe about something, we have the power to change thoughts that don’t support our desired outcomes.
Whatever thoughts or feelings this topic brings up in you, I want you to know that you are powerful and capable of so much. Amidst the noise of life, you have the answers. It’s time we lessen the noise and listen to what’s inside.