Happy New Year! The ball has dropped, champagne glasses clinked and it is time to start a fresh new year. For many of us who are passionate mamas, this means getting started on that list of goals we’ve set for ourselves for the year ahead.
As a nutritionist, this is a busy time in my world, as women come to me for advice on improving their eating because they’ve ‘fallen off the wagon’ over the holidays.
Hold up there, mama. I’ve got a hard truth for you: there is no wagon.
This is your LIFE! You are living it, right now. Eating is a part of our everyday life, and eating and nourishing our bodies can be enjoyable and special every day of the year. You know what doesn’t happen all year long?
So STOP beating yourself up about the ‘mistakes’ you made over the holidays. So, you made some choices that may have been different than the choices you’d make in June. Or did you? Are Christmas Cookies and Eggnog available in June? Maybe, if you look hard enough. But most likely not. These foods are special foods that only come once a year and if you chose to enjoy them, so be it! You can’t change it now- nor should you feel like you have to, or feel like you have to make up for it with the latest fad diet.
Let’s talk about dieting for a second. Diets have a 95% failure rate, friend. 9-5. Would you take a prescription medication with a 95% failure rate? Probably not. So why are doctors, nutritionists and the like still prescribing diets as a means to achieve health? Dieting, or specifically restriction, has NEVER been proven to improve health. Most often, it is a false notion that weight loss will equate to better health. This, too, has been disproven over and over again. There is no correlation between weight loss and health. It is very easy to cut out entire food groups (keto, I’m looking at you), or restrict and over-exercise to lose weight but not actually improve health markers-- the things that REALLY matter when it comes to our health. Aesthetics aside, we want to live happy, healthy, whole lives. Achieving an unrealistic number on the scale is not the answer to a fulfilling life.
So what DOES improve our health? It is the HABITS we create that improve our health in the long run. Some people lose weight when they change their habits, yes-- but many do not. This doesn’t mean they’re not any healthier- it just might mean their body is already at it’s set point weight.
There is NO fad, no promises of quick fixes and lasting weight loss that will give you what finding YOUR beautiful balance will. There is no amount of restriction that will ‘make up’ for LIVING your life.
There is no wagon to fall off of and get back on. It’s time to move on from the guilt, ditch the notion of dieting for health and embrace finding a balance that works, for you.
The next step is to simply to make the next best decision that serves you. So how do we do that, this new year? How do we learn to make decisions that serve us, our family and our health, without restriction or guilt?
I like to use these questions, as a filter with my clients to decide if the change they’re looking to make is one that will truly serve them and their health.
1. Does this feel restrictive? If the change you’re about to make feels tense, you have a visceral response to it, or it makes you feel like running for the hills yelling “noooooo!” it’s probably restrictive! Let’s table it for a second and run it through the other questions to decide if you’re resistant to it for good reason.
2. Is this change sustainable? Can you see yourself making this change and having it stick for the long run? We’re talking 10, 20, 30 years. Yes, we grow and change and our needs change over time. But there are some habits that are truly sustainable, whether or not we end up sustaining them forever.
3. Is this change a fad? If it’s plastered over Facebook, there’s a good chance it’s a fad. If Buzzfeed has done an article on it, There’s a good chance it’s a fad. Now, there are some fads-- like collagen peptides, probiotics and green smoothies that can truly improve your health when incorporated in a healthy way. But the VAST majority of them are restrictive, aren’t sustainable and, my next point--
4. Will this change truly improve my health in the long term? Think about this realistically. I don’t think anyone has become LESS healthy by eating MORE vegetables. But if you’re looking at a diet plan that tries to tell you CARROTS are unhealthy for you, or you’ve decided you’re going on a 28 day juice cleanse-- do you know what that could do to your blood sugar?
5. Is there a less restrictive change I can make? Maybe you feel like you’ve been enjoying a few too many cookies in place of other nourishing foods you might eat instead. Maybe you’re eating a LOT of bread. Like, a lot. Maybe you want to replace some of the cookies and bread with more nourishing foods- even just a sprouted grain bread or a snack that keeps you full for more than thirty minutes. There ARE less restrictive, health-promoting changes you can make that you can develop into HABITS to improve your health in the long term.
I hope this resonated with you today, friend. So take the time to analyze the next step you want to take for your health, and run it through the habits filter. If you can’t create a healthy habit out of it, it’s probably not sustainable, health promoting- or going to work to help you achieve true health and happiness. This year, friend, my hope is that THIS will be the year you learn to ditch the diet dogma, embrace real food for real health and create habits that LAST.
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