What to avoid this January.
Every year the post-Christmas diets roll out.
Every year we are made to feel that:
– we need to go on another diet
-we need to lose weight
-our bodies are not good enough as they are
-we need to look a certain way
It is all total lies. The diet industry makes a lot of money out of this, when one diet doesn’t work there is always another one.
In actual fact, whilst these diets can work in the short term, that is it. They are short term fixes and by continually going on diet after diet can lead to your weight increasing over the longer term as the weight is often regained, with a little extra stored in case there is another diet. Restrictive diets can lower your metabolism (your body uses less energy for everyday processes) and there can be psychological effects to, including that feeling of failure, guilt and shame.
Whether for a January diet or a “lifestyle change” restricting how much food you have can have a variety of negative impacts on your body. Our bodies don’t know the difference between a deliberate diet and lack of food due to a scarcity or famine.
Food restriction means that we may be lacking on sufficient energy to run essential processes in our bodies. One of the first things that you may notice is increased food cravings, as your body tries to drive you towards calorie-dense options as a means of recovery. Giving in on your diet doesn’t mean you have no willpower; it’s your biology working to protect you!
With prolonged restriction, our bodies will dial down non-essential body functions to preserve essential ones. This may include head hair loss, and dry skin and hair, and even feeling cold. Over time, bone mineral density can reduce, increasing the risk of broken bones and later-life osteoporosis. 🦴 Muscle mass may also be impacted. Low blood glucose (sugar) levels can also lead to feelings of dizziness and irritability. Other more psychological effects may include anxiety, fatigue, sleep problems and poor concentration.
In contrast, when we enjoy food freedom, our bodies are more likely to be sufficiently nourished to avoid all these symptoms. Without restriction, we are more likely to consume a variety of foods, which means we are less likely to miss out on any single nutrient. Moreover, food freedom means that we get to enjoy food, both alone and in company!
So this January, instead of jumping on the diet band wagon, how about sticking up 2 fingers to it and working on restoring your relationship with your body, with food and with others? This isn’t a quick fix, but it is going to bring lasting benefits to your physical, psychological and mental health. Here are some small steps you can try:
Add in foods rather than take them out. Focus on eating more fruit, veggies, beans and pulses, wholegrains and heart healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, olive oil, oily fish).
Think about your hunger levels and practise rating them throughout the day. If you are in recovery from an eating disorder then these may not be accurate right now but you can still focus on connecting into them. Try a hunger scan like this one here.
Find ways to move your body that you really enjoy and plan them into your week. Long walks in nature, dancing round the room to music you love, swimming, teamsports, a bike ride, gardening. It doesn’t need to be in a gym!
Prioritise self care. I know that word is so over-used but it is still important. Finding daily space in your diary to bring down your anxiety levels through reading, journalling, craft, growing things, having a pet to look after, being outside, puzzles, playing board games.
Work on your sleep routine. When you get enough sleep everything is better! You can make more rational choices about food, have more energy to move your body and your physcial health benefits too.
You can join me for 6 weeks of working through Flexible Eating and taking steps towards Food Freedom on my Flesible Eating Course. Sign up HERE.