As a little chubby girl, I remember the first time I went on a diet was when I turned ten years old. By the age of 14 I was already an expert in the ‘diet rules’ (e.g. no carbs for dinner, no food after 6 pm., etc.) The weight went off naturally when I grew up, but my diet obsession never did. I always tried to follow a certain food regime, dividing foods into ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’, demonising things like sugar and bread, judging everyone around me, until people would hate to sit with me on a table. Some would even excuse themselves for eating ‘unhealthy’ foods beside me… isn’t that ridiculous!!!!
The truth is, I could never admit how much I craved all those ‘forbidden’ foods that I actually loved! I felt so guilty eating a piece of cake on parties, or a slice of pizza with friends. I was angry at myself, and I would project that onto others by telling them how bad those foods were for their health, and what it would do to their bodies. And then, after I restricted myself for some time, I would go and binge on some desserts, salty processed foods, or literally anything that in theory I wasn’t allowed to eat because I thought that I would gain weight. To sum up, I had a very bad relationship with food that I had created as a result of constant dieting.
…The Christmas holidays were coming. 2018 was only a couple of weeks away. I knew that I would go back home to the family, that I would have to face the festive dinners and all the delicious meals my mother usually cooks during these beautiful holidays. If it was any other year, I would mentally prepare myself, try to ‘resist’ all the deliciousness only to fall off the wagon and into a bingeing cycle, promising myself that “I will start from New Year”. However this time, I decided to do things differently. From my Masters in Nutrition I learnt that our bodies are constantly trying to be in a state of ‘homeostasis’, that is to be in balance. Our weight has a certain ‘set point’, a relatively constant weight that is not so easy to change. Just as it is hard to lose weight, it is also hard to gain weight (unless, of course, you overfeed yourself constantly for 2 weeks in a row). So, I decided to follow intuitive eating, or in other words eating without any restrictions. For the first time in so many years, I would eat desserts and pies with no blame… I ate until I was full, I wasn’t counting macronutrients and calories, I simply took a break from all the diets!
Fast forward to January 2018, my weight remained constant, I am still healthy and no, I did not gain weight! Instead, I feel in much more balance with my body, and contrary to what you would think, I am craving more natural whole foods like fruits and vegetables! (That is to say, my body shape changed slightly, and I lost a lot of stamina during the holidays, but that’s because I almost didn’t work out for a month. However, now I am back to the gym and regaining my strength.)
Moral of the story: it is OKAY to enjoy holiday meals with the family and to eat foods that you love. Contrary to the common belief, eating without any restrictions realigns you with what your body really craves, and trust me – the moment chocolate becomes something that you’re allowed to eat on a daily basis, you no longer crave it as much!!!
In the end, being healthy is not about dieting, and then cheating on your diet, and then dieting again… it’s about DAILY BALANCE and enjoyment of every food that you put on your plate!
Have you ever struggled with finding balance?