So, you've told yourself it's a "lifestyle change." You are done with dieting and you've committed to a healthy future... but, you still:
- Log your food – tracking calories, points, fat grams, carbs or any other measure, you are still on a diet. Though keeping food records can be useful to bring awareness to what you are eating, counting, weighing and measuring your food without being mindful of whether that food is meeting your physical need is still a dieting practice.
- Avoid certain foods – cutting out carbs, certain fats, sugar or any other food group means you are still dieting. You can call it a lifestyle change, but it is simply a euphemism for diet and will ultimately have an end. No one food or food group is bad. Unless you have an allergy or medical reason to avoid certain foods, all foods fit into a true, healthy lifestyle.
- Eat ONLY certain foods – this is similar avoiding certain foods, but it speaks more to eating the same foods over and over again. Most of the time it is done for the ease of tracking or logging. Other times it is because foods that don't meet specified diet criteria are off limits.
- Eat on a schedule – no matter how much you may want it to, your body does not use the clock to determine it's need for food. Scheduled eating (i.e. every 2 or 3 hours) ignores your body's natural and accurate hunger and fullness cues. Instead, eat structured: frequently enough to support your blood sugar and energy level, but based on physical hunger and need.
- Ignore your hunger – because we live in a diet-focused culture, we are taught that being hungry is burning fat or that you have to be hungry in order to lose weight. Do not be misled. Being hungry means you need fuel. Give yourself permission to eat when you are hungry, but respect your body to eat nourishing food at that time too.
All five of these practices are diet behaviors and are not a lifestyle change. As with all diets, there is a start and an end and diets inherently ignore our body's cues for hunger and fullness. In order to truly live a different lifestyle, you must rid yourself of the dieting tools – counting, logging, watching and ignoring. Your body knows exactly when and how much food it needs. Give yourself permission to listen to it and allow yourself to live a true healthy lifestyle.
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