If you’ve ever looked at a diet plan, and just plain laughed, keep reading. Evaluating diets is essential to figuring out if you should go there.
First, let’s lose the “diet plan” terminology. We’re actually talking about a “way of eating”– for life. A truly effective way of eating leaves you happy and healthy. “Diets” tend to leave people cranky and hungry.
At least we think of diets as leaving us cranky and hungry.
They do. They are designed for some imaginary automaton in a closed room doing the same exact task over and over again. Diet plans do not allow you to listen to your body and respond flexibly to changes in your health.
When you shift to a way of eating that truly supports your body, it works. Your gut feels good. Your joints feel better. Headaches decrease. You get stronger when you exercise. This is the goal.
How to Find the Way Of Eating (Diet Plan) That Works For You
Evaluate any proposed diet to see if includes these steps.
- Make peace with food. Many people have emotional entanglements with food that impair their ability to listen to their body. Recognize food as a source of pleasure and fuel.
- Learn to listen to your body. A major cue here is hunger and thirst. How well do you listen to your stomach? Does your brain override your hunger cues?
- Recognize how you feel after eating different types of foods.
- Mostly* eat the foods that help you feel better.
*Sometimes, people have to always eat the foods that help them feel better. Foods that are true allergies, for example, should never be eaten. On the other hand, someone with a sensitivity to FODMAPs can choose to eat some foods higher in FODMAPs.
Often, the first two steps are hard. Recognizing how you relate to food is hard work. Accepting and shifting your relationship with food can be difficult.
Learning to listen to your body is vital. Without knowing what’s going on, you can’t spot success! Practice with different parts of your body.
A simple exercise is the five minute body awareness exercises. Want more practice? Try a guided body scan.
Connecting food and body sensations takes time and awareness. Try making one change at a time. Perhaps you want to reduce lactose. Or maybe eat more vegetables. See how you feel before and after the change.
Finally, maintaining a way of eating that is supportive of your health is a process of continually making decisions. A flexible way of eating allows for changes and adaptation as your life changes. We change. Then way we eat can change with us.
Have questions? Get in touch with Stephanie Bostic, PhD RD by calling 607-214-2191.