The deprivation diet detour has maintained its place in the spotlight for far too long.
While the foundational practices of the ketogenic, paleo, and low-fat Dukan diets, amongst others, are very different, they have one big thing in common: restriction.
No carbs. No fat. No sugar. No this. No that. When did our health, specifically our eating patterns, root themselves in deprivation? Food is our fuel and if we limit the nutritional diversity of each and every one of our meals, our bodies will react in unique ways that offer little to no sustainable growth.
You hear far too often about the “keto plateau” or the intense cravings that are sure to tag along if you cut out large food groups from your diet. These negative side effects can be attributed to the harsh, restrictive nature of these diets. Just like all things in life, balance is key. Incorporating all food groups, listening to your body’s cravings, and fostering a more inclusive mentality around food will drive balance in your health and fitness journey, in turn, producing tangible and sustainable outcomes to your physical, mental, and gut health.
So, if diets don’t work what does? Check out these 5 guidelines that will help you get your eating in check without going down the deprivation diet detour. These guidelines are intended to hold you accountable and to promote balance, all while staying in the right lane.
SELF-INTERPRET INTUITIVE EATING
While some people take intuitive eating to an extreme and only eat for a short period of time every day, it is important to know that you can still foster intuitive eating habits without totally changing your lifestyle. Intuitive eating, in its simplest form, is listening to your body and feeding it when it is hungry. We are conditioned to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even in the moments when our bodies aren’t necessarily craving food. So, instead of actively denying your body food at certain times, give your body fuel when it tells you it needs it!
Saying yes to cravings (within reason of course) is a great guideline to follow as your work to regulate and improve your eating patterns. Telling your body ‘no’ time and time again doesn’t evaporate your cravings, it just suppresses them. After doing this for an extended period of time, you are more likely to partake in indulgent behaviors. Bingeing is never the answer and the best way to avoid doing so is to simply say yes to your cravings while knowing that the one decision to “cheat” does not define your health and fitness.
Eating totally plant-based is not for everyone and that is okay! However, we can’t deny the power of plants and the important role they play in our health and fitness journey. With that said, try and ensure that every meal that you eat is plant-dominant. Incorporating plants into each meal will naturally increase the nutrients that your body receives on a daily basis, promoting a strong and consistent relationship with these energy-boosting power foods.
EAT WITH YOUR TUMMY, NOT YOUR EYES
Believe it or not, it is much easier to eat with your eyes than with your stomach. When we see a plate full of food when we are hungry, we tend to eat until the food in front of us is gone. Similar to intuitive eating, only eat until your stomach is satisfied. This may be half of a muffin instead of a full one. Or half of a bowl of chili, rather than a whole one. Your eyes may tell you that you still have food to eat, but your stomach should be the voice that you listen to!
THINK INCLUSIVELY, NOT EXCLUSIVELY
If you have trouble sticking to a diet, it is most likely due to you thinking exclusively about food, as opposed to thinking inclusively. While thinking inclusively about what you eat may sound like a broad guideline, this way of thinking promotes food as essential fuel and will help you to steer clear of derivational eating practices. Being inclusive to all food groups and balancing them in a way that works for you will ensure that your nutritional palette is diverse and that it is providing your body with everything that it needs.