Are you tired of dieting? You search the web for another list of “good” and “bad” foods according to this or that diet. You start to loose some weight, but you feel bored, uninspired and not really into your food.
All you want is a break, and maybe a chance to reframe your relationship with food. You want to give up the lists entirely, and just enjoy your food like you did when you were a kid (or more than that).
The problem with us Americans is our negative, unhealthy relationship with food. Women struggle with a it little more usually, but it affects men too. So much of the food marketing targets food as a superfood or a horrible disease-causing thing. That’s just not the case and most of us know it. Sometimes, we just have to be reminded of the commonsense.
This list is just that. A reminder of the commonsense. A lot of thanks to the French lifestyle expert, Mireille Guiliano, author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” She went through her own weight struggle (short in comparison to an American girl) where she moved to the US from France and gained a few pounds. She soon went on a diet and dedicated the rest of her time educating American women on loosing weight the French way.
What is the French way?
Let’s find out.
1. Women: devote time to yourself.
Put some lip gloss on, get some nicely fitted shirts and pants. You’re not trying to impress anyone, you just know that it makes you feel good. Your job is to feel emotionally well, or great! No diet or lifestyle transformation can take place if you don’t feel emotionally well first. Whatever balance means to you, do it. Sometimes it means turning up and dancing in the living room to Reggaeton (love me some Despacito). Whatever works for you!
2. Eat until you’re 80% full.
This principle is a Japanese one called “hara hachi bu.” The idea is that you eat just until you are satisfied. This means slowing down your eating and serving yourself a smaller portion from the start. As you eat, stop and ask yourself, “am I satisfied?”
Americans tend to eat until they are “full” or “stuffed” but this not only makes you feel uncomfortable and sluggish, it’s very taxing on the body and usually leaves us bloated. You can still enjoy your food, even if its a few bites of ice cream, but listen to your body a little more closely. If you’re a calorie counter, this may be difficult- you probably tuned out your body a long time ago. Start small and sit still for a couple minutes if you need to, no TV, no phone to see how you feel. How does your stomach feel? After a while, you will get more attuned with your body. Keep listening and feeling.
3. Walk everywhere.
Most of us know this but it’s a good reminder. Walking is one of the easiest and gentlest ways to loose weight. You don’t need a great amount of fitness to do it and you can make it enjoyable by going out in nature and seeing different sites as you walk.
The key is to not make a big event of it. You don’t have to change into your special gym clothes to go and walk. Just go! Put a coat on if you need to, but make it a daily habit. Especially after eating, it can make you sleep much better.
4. Stop, drop, and eat.
Yes, most Americans eat on the run, eat in the car and eat low-quality convenience foods because of time constraints. I know it’s hard to eat well when you are out of your house for 14 hours or more between driving and working. I’ve been there. But, there is always a better option.
Yogurt, nuts, easy breakfast sandwiches can be convenient and are high-quality foods. Wherever you are, stop to enjoy and savor whatever it is your eating. Sometimes I would eat my breakfast in my car after parking under a tree. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. Silence or put the phone down, put the computer away, and turn the TV off. I know most of us have heard it before, but we fall back into old, bad habits. I found the best way to be present at the meal is to say a small pray or a couple sentences of thanks just to get you into the right space to eat. It seems to relax me and helps me slow down my eating.
5. Finally, skip the scale.
Start to feel more comfortable in your own clothes. Focus on the small habits that are working for you and keep doing them. If you are obsessing about every pound lost, chances are you will loose the weight and gain it back just as quickly. You can use the scale, but make the focus on you enjoying your food, enjoying your lifestyle, the “joie de vivre.” In the end, happiness and laughter is the best weight loss prescription. It’s the mind-body connection we have to honor. And something we can discuss more later!
For now, I hope that helped you start reframing your relationship with food. If you read between the lines, it’s really about feeling better first. Food is part of it, but being good to yourself in other ways that don’t involve food rewards is the key. Dressing a little better, maybe getting your nails done, taking a bath, going for a couple short walks a week- these all boost the mood. A lot of times we can obsess about food, what to eat and not to eat, especially if you are a long-time dieter, but it gets us no where emotionally. We end up feeling like we are failing every time we have that small piece of birthday cake or occasional “bad” snack. We forget that a healthy lifestyle is a marathon kind of run, not a sprint. If we tilt the scale in favor of the healthy habits, there is a little wiggle room to enjoy the occasional piece of cake or glass of wine.
Cultivating a healthy mindset around food will help you for the rest of your life. It is a gradual (slow and steady) process compared to the keto or paleo or whatever the new fad diet is I don’t know about. Don’t be caught up in the diet riptides. Go to the deep sea where the truth, the commonsense always prevails- listen to the body, enjoy and appreciate life a little more and give yourself a break.