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Is your relationship with your diet like a dysfunctional relationship?
We’ve all been there right?
When it’s good it’s really really good… (like a HUGE tub of vegan salted caramel and pecan ice cream good) and yet most of the time it’s desperately UN-fun (like how you feel after demolishing the entire thing on your own).
You bring out the worst in each other. It’s a constant power struggle.
You hold grudges and spitefully punish each other… in the realm of diet that might be via ridiculous food restriction and excessive exercise enforcement. And of course your body fights back by activating the starvation strategy and getting really good at slowing down your metabolism and holding tight to any fat stores because it’s worried there’s a food shortage!
In the realm of dating well there’s limitless hurtful, no win actions to resort to.
You repeatedly attempt the same strategies that have not worked in the past. It’s exhausting and unsustainable.
Talking unsustainable, a recent example comes to mind. A colleague of mine was determined to shed some fat before his summer holiday. He embarked apon a keto diet and to his credit he kept to it and indeed dropped a decent amount of fat. However also a noticeable amount of muscle. Such extreme restriction is super tough for most people to stick to.
It also means you indiscriminately shed fat and muscle rather than gradually chiselling away at fat while maintaining and even building muscle.
The solution is to sculpt rather shed. To choose your curves via consistent weights training and consistent high value whole foods. To build good habits that are sustainable long term.
Work as a team. Rely on each other. Trust each other. Now I could be talking about either your relationship with your body and your diet OR a romantic relationship right?
To make this concept actionable here are: 3 steps to build a relationship with your diet where you bring out the best in each other.
One: Acknowledge what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past.
There’s really nothing new and ground breaking here. If you think back to when you had the best relationship with your body, what strategies were you deploying?
A food diary. Meal preparation. Weekly weigh in. An accountability buddy. Cheat day / meal. Banishing trigger foods. Intermittent fasting.
For any of these you’re yet to try here’s a hint that may help you know what will be more suited to your personality. Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies. The tendencies indicate how you respond to expectations. There’s no right or wrong however it’s very useful to know which one you are so you can use it to your advantage. Again, cheers to Gretchen – here’s a run down of those tendencies.
The upholder: Meets outer expectations. Meets inner expectations.
The questioner: Resists outer expectations. Meets inner expectations.
The rebel: Resists outer expectations. Resists inner expectations.
The obliger: Meets outer expectations. Resists inner expectations.
So you can imagine any of these strategies might be effectively followed by an Upholder, just decide which and schedule them. The questioner is good with self accountability so once she has decided weekly meal prep or banishing trigger foods or intermittent fasting is within her best interests she can stick to it. The rebel is going to resist excessive expectation from anyone, themselves included so if you’re a rebel you’ll want a handful of strategies available to you so you can pick which one you feel like when you feel like it. The obliger works really well with an accountability buddy to ask them about their food diary or weigh in or meal prep.
Two: Build in alignment with your values and beliefs.
If your daily actions are supportive of the beliefs and values you hold dear you’ll find it easier to do the do. In a sense the decision making process is eliminated.
This is the reason it’s easy to live a plant based lifestyle when you’re doing it for ethical reasons. If you believe animals have moral value and are individuals with the capacity to feel pain and suffer, who have an inherent desire to live and as such are not products to be exploited then you’ll feel compelled to align your eating actions with this belief.
How exactly to do this?
First you must elicit your values and beliefs. I dig in with this in show #250 which I’ll link to in the show notes.
Next decide on either the actions that have worked for you in the past or the actions you’d like to try perhaps based on the insights you’ve learnt from Rubins four tendencies. For example: possibly like me your number one value is freedom.
And you know you’ve found great benefit from meal planning previously.
Now it’s a matter of drawing the connection between freedom and meal prep.
Potentially that meal prep gives you freedom from much cooking the rest of the week once it’s done. Or that it relieves you from thinking about your food choices all the time: “Will this work?” “Will this make me fat?” Or best yet that with a little time meal prep will give you the freedom to rock around in a fit, strong healthy body you love.
Three: Create the guidelines that support and reflect your current (not your dream / ideal / future) lifestyle.
Be reasonable and realistic! In the same way that some personal relationships only work for the smooth sailing and then crash and burn you also want to avoid unrealistic expectations for your diet and your body.
To reiterate, you’re looking to work as a team with your body. To bring out the best in each other. So here are a few strategies you’ll likely want to avoid:
Unplanned meal skipping. Reactive binge eating then fasting. Meal prep that takes HOURS when you don’t have hours. Stop:Start exercising.
So far as eating plant based and where that fits into your guidelines if you haven’t already prioritized it in step two: Build in alignment with your values and beliefs, then I have one closing bit of advice that helps me.
Listen With Your Heart.
To go on a slight side track: For the past few years I’ve made a conscious effort to seek out and listen to the opinions of people who do not bolster my confirmation bias.
I’m not sure what instigated this approach however I can remember realizing that the black or white, love or hate, dichotomize attitude I favoured as a young adult was not always effective. It made me passionate and certain of my beliefs yet also somewhat rigid and opposed to change. Even when that change was to my benefit.
Eventually I clicked that beliefs such as:
ALL cardio is hateful.
ALL salads are boring.
ALL boys are dastards (Yes, I said that – I figure it’s a more podcast friendly word!)
Were not working so well for me!
For the most part I believe it’s useful to open yourself to the prospect of encountering new and improved information and in turn upgrading your old beliefs where necessary.
However it opens you to potential information overload and confusion.
Especially in the sphere of your diet and health. I honestly believe you could find an expert to support whatever theory you wanted to believe about your health and the question: “Is eating animal products killing us?” is the perfect example.
We’re in such a unique period right now. Gone seem to be the days of simply observing what works for you and your body. There are too many rabbit holes of potential alternatives to save you from calamity or deliver you to optimal health. It’s easy – super easy – to get lost.
Which is why more and more I’m relying on the advice: Listen With Your Heart.
Which conveniently in a round about way brings us back on track. So far as The Dating and Diet Analogy and how to build a relationship where you bring out THE BEST in each other, Listen With Your Heart works with both.
I’m guessing your heart will tell you that being with the person who brings out the jealous, the insecure, the needy, the controlling or the CRAZY in you is not good! Equally subscribing to a diet that necessitates you choose ignorance with volition, or conforming to the norm despite feeling incongruent with your values and beliefs, or simply choosing taste and convenience over everything else is not good.
Ok, so we got a little heavy at the end of todays show even though I tried to start off light with a dating analogy!
I’d love to know, is there anything you’d like me to cover in an upcoming show? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Either via the comments below or even better you could let me know in an iTunes review!
That would make my day.
That’s it for this week in Healthification. Huge thanks for sharing this week with me.
The Healthification podcast is proudly bought to you by my FREE ‘Easy Vegan’ plan. It took me 25 years to transition from a meat eater to a happy, healthy, non-judgemental Vegan! You can do it in just 3 days with my simplified ‘easy vegan’ plan! Get the fit, strong, and healthy plant based body you deserve… while avoiding ALL the mistakes I made along the way!
Till next time, remember Creating a body and life you love is Freedom. (If this ex-carb queen, NON-genetically gifted, naturally uncoordinated VEGAN-chick can do it – so can YOU!!!)
If you liked ‘The Dating and Diet Analogy‘ you’ll also like: A Day In The Life Reframes Revisited:
If you’re yet to share the Healthification love – just click here to zip over to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review. It’d help me out big time. With gratitude, Kate.