It’s that time of year again. I see people left and right talking about their New Year’s resolution about food and dieting. In the past, I would think nothing of this. “It’s the norm nowadays,” I would think. I might have even made a “resolution” for myself. The options are endless; I will only allow myself to have sweets ___ times per week. No more ____. I’m going paleo. I’m doing the whole 30 (yes, even this can lead to disordered relationships with food).
By no means am I shaming people who need to cut out certain foods because of allergies/intolerances or people who choose to eat vegan/vegetarian for any assortment of reasons. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.
There is a broad spectrum of “resolutions” that I often see, ranging from restricting certain foods/food groups to adopting certain diet labels (i.e. paleo, gluten-free, whole 30). No matter how extreme these resolutions may be, they can all lead to disordered eating and a distorted relationship with food. Majority of the time, if you restrict your body of certain food groups, you will often find yourself over-eating these foods later. Our bodies are pretty amazing- they do a good job of signaling the type, timing, and amount of food that we need throughout the day. They also can figure out when they’re not getting what they need and compensate accordingly. Our body’s reaction wreaks havoc on both our physical and mental well-being. Some of the more obvious physical consequences are potential nutrient deficiencies (i.e. cutting out grains, which contain large amounts of B vitamins, folate, zinc). Like I mentioned previously, eliminating certain food groups, which may mean a low caloric intake overall, almost always results in over-eating later. Consequences may include a slowed metabolic rate, weight gain, and fatigue, which have all been proven with the Minnesota Starvation Experiment back in the 1940s. Mentally, these restricted behaviors can have an effect on a person’s relationship with food in the long run.
There’s a difference between setting small, realistic goals and making restrictions. Set a goal for increasing fruits and veggies, moving your body in ways that you enjoy, or listening to your body more. Start by giving yourself permission to eat any food at any time and see how it affects things. You’d be surprised how your overall well-being can change. This is intuitive eating- listening to your cravings and allowing any and all types of foods.
However, it’s also important not to swing in the other direction. I’m not saying that you should eat cookies and cake for every meal of the day (although, food habituation is real. I guarantee you’d get tired of said dessert after eating it all the time). Of course, I’m going to push eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (the future dietitian in me :)). Yep, I’m about to say it, it’s all about moderation. While this may not be a quick fix that fad diets such as the whole 30 may promise, it’s the most sustainable and healthy way to live.
My advice to you? Ditch the diet stigma. It’s cool to be different :).
Have questions about this topic? Need help coming up with some realistic goals? E-mail me! I’m happy to answer any and everything that I can. Happy New Year!