Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Take on Dieting

Whenever people find out I am working on losing weight, I get two responses. The first is of good wishes and encouragement, and the second is a question as to what diet I am following. Most people are surprised at my response.

I don't diet. Ever. I don't believe in diets.

I don't want to offend anyone who has found success in following diets, or who are working to follow a particular eating plan. I think it is great for anyone to try and make healthier lifestyle choices, and to try and change bad habits. Eating copious amounts of unhealthy food is definitely a bad habit that should be curbed.

The truth is, though, I don't believe in diets. I don't think they work. I think they can make temporary changes in a body's build and size- but those changes only ever last as long as the diet does, and I have yet to meet anyone on a diet who plans to stay on that diet forever.

Furthermore, I find the idea of dieting rather unhealthy. That might sound strange, but hear me out.

Food is a good thing. It is nutritious and delicious, and a way to bring people together and share experiences. I hate when people say food should be used only for nutritional purposes. I am certain that is not true nor what God intended.

I think there is a huge problem in having to quanitfy and evaluate every item you put inro your body. I don't see how anyone can be happy while tracking calories, filling out charts, and making eating a chore or a guilty pleasure.

There is a woman in my ward who swears by Weight Watchers- and she looks great. Really, she is stunning. She talks about it constantly and is like a walking advertisement for the program. That is very persuasive until you watch her habits. She carries around a tally card to mark down everything she consumes. At ward parties she talks about denying herself food all day so she can splurge on the goodies without going over her allotment for the day. Calories and points are on her mind all day every day. I doubt that she has just taken a bite of anything just to enjoy the beauty of well made food in years without first calculating the ingredients and point value of it.

All of that is enough to discourage me from such a practice, but add to that the fact that her daughters have taken on the sam habits, and it just disgusts me. At a primary activity, I heard her 10 year old daughter say that she never drank rootbeer because of all the calories in it, and that she wouldn't be able to eat lunch if she had her share of cookies at the event because it would use up all her points. 10 years old, and she can't enjoy a cookie. Not cool.

When I started looking into losing weight and exercising, I did my fair share of research on the subject. Reading about all the new (and old) diets just worked to reinforce my negative views about diets. Low Carb, Weight watchers, Nutrisystem, HCG, The Zone, all of them were based on self denial. You constantly DENY yourself things you want. This sends a message to your brain and body that there are things you want that you can't have. I don't know about you, but the minute I tell myself I can't have a piece of cake, all I want is a giant piece of cake. The second I say I am no longer going to drink carbonation, all I want is a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper all to myself.

Our bodies don't like be denied things- especially things it really wants. When you start that process of denial, the body generally responds by going into pseudo-starvation mode. It makes you feel hungrier than you are, and holds onto calories it doesn't really need. That is not healthy or useful or conducive to healthy habits or attitudes.

So, back to the original question- what diet am I using?

While I am not dieting, I have taken on a new habit concerning my eating habits that has made a huge difference for me. I think my body is super smart and it knows what it needs to do, and what it needs to have for it to accomplish all of those things it has to do. So, before I eat anything, I ask my body if it wants that.

I know that sounds weird, but think about it. How many times have you gorged yourself on food you thought you wanted only to feel sick, bloated, and regretful afterwards? How many times have you worked to clean your plate and ended up wishing you had just stopped when you first felt full?

Right now, I let my body tell me what it wants, and it does a pretty good job. I let it tell me when it is full, and I stop. When I have a choice between water and soda, I ask what will I enjoy most. Ususally it is water. Usually I choose not to eat a large portion of chips, cookies, or other unhealthy items not because I am dieting and am trying to keep from going over my calorie limit, but because when I really think about it, it doesn't sound good. I don't feel like I am denying myself anything, so I don't feel unhappy about any choices I make. I feel great!

I only have cake when cake sounds good, and surprisingly, steamed broccoli ends up sounding good a lot more often than cake when I ask my body about it, and when I do eat cake, I don't ever regret it, because it was something my body really wanted.

Please don't think I'm crazy. I'm not crazy- I'm just happy to be eating what I want to eat when I want to eat it, and am still losing weight and inches on a regular basis.

1 comment:

  1. I so agree with you on this subject! Every time in my life that I told myself I was going on a diet...that is when I wanted to go crazy eating those foods that I wasn't supposed to be eating.

    I also have the same issue with the scale. When I get on and don't see the results I am looking for, I get depressed. Thus I eat more because that is how I deal with that emotion. So I even try and judge my weight by the way my clothes are fitting. I do get on the scale every once in a while, but not much!

    Great job with this by the way Amanda! You have inspired me to get back exercising.