Stop Dieting, Start Thriving

3 simple food rules to eat well for the rest of your life. 

This weekend MindBodyGreen ran my about how we can shift from the dieting mentality to eating for nourishment:

We all know that dieting isn’t a lifestyle, yet many of us restrict food or diet for most of our lives because we’re focused on weight instead of health. We’re confused about how to eat and take care of ourselves, and yet that’s one of our most basic needs.

We get in trouble when…

We don’t understand food and how it affects us.

When we’re disconnected from how food makes us feel, the body’s natural wisdom is ignored and we get confused about how to eat.

Our true nature is to act based on how we feel in our body, but first we need to tap into that interconnectedness of mind and body.

We count calories instead of nutrients.

Many people have developed a fear of food, because we think we’ll gain weight if we “let go” or it’ll make us skinny if we can “control it.”

To nourish ourselves means to honor our food as the fuel that satisfies our needs. Our physical, mental, and emotional needs are all nourished by food.

So what can you do to shift from the dieting mind to the nourishment mind? Keep it simple:

1. Plan a rhythm of three meals per day.

Snacking isn’t necessary unless your meal will not get you through 4-5 hours until the next meal.

Fasting between meals can actually be good for you, but under-eating at a meal will get you stuck in snacking habits that will probably leave you falling prey to the cookie jar by 4pm.

2. Eat real food.

It’s seems so simple, but it’s not that easy to eat real food in our modern world.

It takes some effort in the beginning, but once you get used to shopping and choosing foods with real, unprocessed ingredients, you’ll find it much easier to eat healthy.

Remember that how you eat doesn’t need to have a name or a label, so don’t try to stick to one philosophy or the other. What matters is that it works for you and your body. And your body wants real food, so start there.

Your plate needs proportions of each of the food groups — what you need to learn is how to tailor the proportions for you.

Start with half of your plate full of low-starch green and cruciferous vegetables, a quarter of it with complex carbs from starches, and a quarter with protein. Include a serving or two of good quality fats.

3. Practice asking your physical body (not your head) what it needs.

The body wants glucose (complex carbs), fat and protein to be nourished. You (your mind, stories, memories and food associations) are the one translating the signals into cookies, candy and fried food.

Be mindful that if you’re in the process of changing your habits, the first impulse is probably more habit than need. Take a little pause and check in with yourself before acting. You can ask yourself questions like:

  • Am I tired? (You probably need complex carbs instead of sugar.)
  • Am I worn out? (You probably need good quality fat instead of French fries.)
  • Am I frustrated? (You probably need some water, a walk, or a cup of tea instead of of soda or a cookie.)

Many of our reactive eating habits are called emotional eating. Often our everyday choices can be shifted with a little dose of mindfulness and a willingness to pause.

This gives us time to look for a different choice to satisfy our need to be nurtured and soothed. The trick is to first feel truly physically nourished by eating meals made with real, whole food.

Our food choices affect us every day and can help us change from feeling unmotivated to motivated. Self-loathing to self-loving. Depressed to joyful. Let’s make our food choices work for us so we can thrive!

Eating better to feel better isn’t a diet, it’s a nourishing lifestyle!

You can learn more about how to change the way you eat so you can have a nourishing relationship with food by signing up for the online Path for Life Self-Nourishment Program or get my book EAT TO FEEL FULL, and nourish yourself for good.