Happy New Year! About now most of us are trying to decide on a New Year’s Resolution, and most of us will choose something having to do with our weight, food, or exercise. It’s great that we all want our health to become more of a priority but New Year’s resolutions don’t usually stick, and making weight goals is actually a good way to end up gaining weight (yes, really!). Weight is not the best measure of health and restricting certain foods or setting rigid exercise goals typically have the opposite effect of what we intended. Focusing on these things and practicing restriction creates negative relationships with our bodies and with food. So, instead of making an unrealistic resolution to lose 10 pounds, stop eating sugar, or exercise for an hour every day, try these suggestions instead. You also don’t have to make them into a resolution. Just include them in your daily routine instead of setting yourself up for failure when you can’t meet your resolution goal.
Give yourself permission to eat.
- Setting rules for foods, or labeling foods as “off-limits” or “bad” makes our mind and bodies want them more and enforces the idea that we can’t control our bodies or minds. There is room for all food. Weight gain does not occur from indulging in one thing you enjoy eating occasionally.
- Paying closer attention to hunger and fullness cues from your body is a great way to give it what it needs. Eating slowly and paying attention to the taste, smell, and texture of your foods gives your body a more satisfied feeling. Instead of gobbling up a piece of chocolate cake because you think you shouldn’t be eating it will make you only want more of it. If chocolate cake is a “bad” or “off limits” food you will likely feel guilty for eating it. If you give yourself permission to eat that piece of chocolate cake and eat slowly, taking the time to enjoy it, you may find that you don’t end up eating all of it.
Ditch Diet Culture
- Say no to diets, weight loss programs, and anything else the beauty/weight loss industry may convince you to buy. Diets and the media make us believe that our bodies are out of control and we need something to follow to get them under control. This is simply not true. Our bodies are great at telling us when we are hungry or full, we just need to listen to them instead of asking someone else “When and what should I eat?”. We also need to follow our food preferences and include foods that have a lot of nutrients most of the time. We have gotten to a point where restricting entire food groups and only eating “super foods” is normal. This is not normal eating. We don’t need a program to follow, we need to eat balanced meals on a regular basis. Doing this will also reduce cravings. We all have experienced cravings at some time or another, and they typically occur in the evening. For a lot of us, these cravings are for sweets. The most likely reasons are that 1. You didn’t eat enough during the day and your body is telling you it needs something (so feed it!) 2. Eating sweets at night has become a habit or 3. You’re craving a food because it is “off limits”.
- Avoid talking or thinking about your body negatively or engaging in weight loss talk.
- Think about food differently:
Diet Mindset Non-Diet Mindset
Control Media Exposure
- The media is constantly influencing us with images of the “perfect” body and trying to make us believe our bodies aren’t good enough. Don’t forget that all of these images are photo shopped and most of those images are not attainable. Media also convinces us that we need to buy the next best weight loss program, supplement, and beauty tools. Social media is no better with people posting selfies that have been filtered and edited. Most people also only post their “best life” moments and good things that are happening in their lives, leaving out the bad. This can take a huge toll on our body image and relationship with ourselves. Only seeing the “best” of people can also make us second guess ourselves and how happy we are.
- Start limiting your screen time. Stop following people or pages that make you feel negatively about yourself. Don’t buy magazines covered with photo shopped bodies.
Give these suggestions a try and start repairing your relationship with food and your body.