Choosing the Cheat

I’m pretty sure that at some point or another, we have all made a decision to “get healthy”. Regardless of whether it’s starting a new gym routine, eliminating diet soda or following through with the latest diet with precise detail, we seek to change some part of ourselves that we perceive as needing improvement. Choosing to eat healthier or starting a new diet and making radical change may feel really good. Freeing almost. Deciding to never eat high fat, high carb, processed foods, sugar (or whatever the decision is) and throwing it out or pushing it to the pack of the pantry. Following through with best of intentions, a healthy menu is made with new recipes to try, maybe something vegetarian or that freaky looking green drink that you neighbor raves about.  Calories are counted. Portions are measured. You are on the way to the you, you always wanted.

This works for days maybe weeks. Some weight comes off, energy is sky-rocketing, progress made. You got it this time. For real, it’s going to stick.

And then:

Life gets in the way. Someone is sick, some crazy work deadline pops up, three days of the worst traffic ever and you are thrown off the terrifically measured plan you were on.  And there in the back of the pantry calling your name quietly at first is the junk food you swore you weren’t going to eat again and certainly not at this time of day. The calling gets louder and eventually you give in. Just a little can’t hurt.

Sometimes it’s sudden and other times it’s just a gradual return to what is comfortable, easy and familiar. Getting take-out once returns to 3 nights a week.  Whatever the thing is that bumps you off the new routine of healthy eating somewhere in the back your mind is the guilt. If only you hadn’t eaten the thing or tried harder or had more will power, maybe you could have made it this time, stuck to the plan.

Let me share this with you.

It’s not you 

You did it right

It’s the plan, the diet that that doesn’t work

We are all inherently perfect in our own way and meant to be healthy, but our society has programed us for the instant fix. Lose 20lbs in 20 days. Get your beach body in one month.  Detox in three days.  It all plays into some insecurity that we aren’t good enough, not doing it the right way, we should be better.  Our willpower to deprive ourselves is not the problem. It’s the diet. 95% of all diets fail and usually the dieter gains more weight back than when they started.

There is no right way of eating. We all have different needs nutritionally. This is part of why there are so many diets out there and perfectly good science behind many of them. They all work for some of us.

The question is: what is it that you should be eating to give you optimal and sustainable health? The answer: Listen to your body. It will tell you.  Check in and see how you feel.  Start slowly making changes in what you eat. One food or meal at time.  Let go of the perfection of health and focus making small incremental steps to better health.

Feel good about what you are eating, even the” bad stuff”. When eating healthy is just part of your life, treating yourself to something special is ok.  The key is to choose it, not hide in the corner scarfing it down and feeling guilty before, during and after.  Take the guilt out of guilty pleasure. Embrace the “bad” choice. Eating is not only about nourishment and energy, but pleasure too. Revel in the glory of it rolling on your tongue.  Choose it knowing that it is part of your healthy eating lifestyle, not an interruption or falling out of synch. Choose it knowing that when you accept on occasion you indulge in something delightful, your body will accept it and process it differently than if you eat with negative feelings. Choose it knowing that feeling great about how you nourish yourself is as important as what you eat. Choose it because as small steps are made and your body is truly being nourished with good food, the bad stuff just doesn’t seem as fulfilling.

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