6.13.2014

Moderation > Restriction

Disclaimer: I am not a food expert. I don't consider myself to have any formal training in nutrition or health, just wellness and what makes one's body and mind thrive. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is food restriction. Whether paleo or whatever. Now, coming from someone that is gluten free, I can understand that certain foods make us feel ill, and I am by no means condoning that you should eat something that makes you feel bad. In fact, I want to argue the opposite.

It really pains me when friends won't indulge in a glass of wine or a small dessert because they are on a "diet." I don't believe in diets and I never have. I do, however, believe in moderation. I think that when we restrict ourselves, it is a punishment. We are punishing ourselves for eating things that we enjoy (usually). Additionally, restricting often leads to wanting something even more, and over indulging when it is actually available. How does this even sound healthy?

Why does society tell us that we need to diet? Why can't we just learn how to indulge in the things we enjoy with moderation? What if we taught our daughters and sons that food isn't something to fear and restrict and is instead something to enjoy as long as it is in moderation (like most things)? I can only imagine the positive impact this would have on our society, who places their worth in how their body looks.

People sometimes see me eating and ask "how I eat like that and look like I do." This often comes from people that I know diet or restrict. The answer is simple: I eat well, I eat what makes me feel good, I don't eat things that don't make me feel well, I exercise regularly, I drink a lot of water, sleep often, I don't keep chips in the house because I know I will eat the whole bag in a sitting, and I splurge every now and then because it's not going to kill me (OK maybe it's slightly more complicated but that's the short version). Now, I know many people struggle with their weight, and I am not trying to make it sound like my lifestyle is simple, because it's not. I was not healthy for a long time. I have always been active, but haven't always made good food choices. I restricted, and I learned the consequences.

Now, I am not perfect and I am still guilty of negative self-talk. BUT I don't get down on myself when I eat something that others might try to restrict because IT MAKES ME HAPPY. I like to eat cookies and drink wine. And I do. Just not all the time and not in large amounts. We have to learn that telling ourselves we cannot have something is not healthy. Cutting out whole food groups like carbs or fats has detrimental consequences for our brains.

Now, I'm not just preaching this message because I think everyone should do what I do. No. I am sharing this message because research has shown that food restriction has negative consequences. "Starvation and self-imposed dieting appear to result in eating binges once food is available and in psychological manifestations such as preoccupation with food and eating, increased emotional responsiveness and dysphoria, and distractibility. Caution is thus advisable in counseling clients to restrict their eating and diet to lose weight, as the negative sequelae may outweigh the benefits of restraining one's eating. Instead, healthful, balanced eating without specific food restrictions should be recommended as a long-term strategy to avoid the perils of restrictive dieting" (Polivy, 1996). If you would like the full article please e-mail me.

I know this post is a little jumbled, but I cannot seem to organize my thoughts on this issue clearly. My point is, we need to spend more time learning about our bodies and what makes them feel good. We need to focus on moderation, and not what we cannot have. This needs to become a way of life and not just a way to lose a few pounds for your next big event (which will likely be gained back shortly after anyways).  And most of all, we need to love ourselves and realize that our worth is not in our body types or diets. BAM!


6 comments :

  1. Amen! This is such a great post. I've been on so many diets, I can't even begin to tell you the names of them because I've forgotten, there are so many. I lost and have since kept off 50 pounds about 2 years ago. The key is moderation. I eat really well, but if I want french fries, you bet I'm going to have them. I won't have a huge large fry, but just enough. More people need to read this, you're on to something!

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  2. Thanks Kendra, I was a little worried about how this might be received. Let me just take a second you say YOU GO GIRL!! We have to learn what works for us without depriving ourselves!

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  3. Every body is different, but keep ourselves away from foods forever is just pure torture if you ask me.

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  4. Totally agree! I've never believed in diets or completely restricting myself. Sounds like I do the same thing as you :) Definitely moderation! If I had to give up french fries for the rest of my life, I'd die :-p

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  5. Nope, I totally get you here & agree! Always moderation. (Which I feel I have mastered with everything except chips & salsa. Stilllll workin' on that one....)

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