Diet culture is a huge part of our society, and unfortunately, it can lead to disordered eating and food obsession. Now, there’s no shame in wanting to lose weight or have a healthier diet, but restrictive eating is not the way to go – trust me, I’ve been there! I learned the hard way that the stress of dieting, restricting and having so many food rules can be the cause of bloating, in addition to depriving your gut of the diversity it requires to thrive. So, here’s why restrictive dieting doesn’t work and how to overcome it.
Restrictive dieting is not sustainable
Ultimately, restrictive dieting is not sustainable and only leads to burnout. It can also lead to binge and stress eating because you’ve deprived yourself for too long. It’s unrealistic to think you can go your whole life without eating sugar, carbs, or whatever other food groups you’re restricting. So, it’s best to have a wholistic approach to dieting – think the 80/20 rule. Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates 80% of the time, and 20% of the time you can eat the things that bring you joy. I love having something sweet at the end of each day and I allow myself to indulge – that way I don’t obsess over what I’m eating and listen to my body’s cravings.
It deprives your body of the nutrients it requires
Rather than deeming certain foods as “off-limits” ask yourself why you’re cutting that food group out. Are you cutting out gluten because you have a gluten sensitivity or because it’s buzzy? Going gluten-free can mean missing out on essential nutrients such as fiber, iron, and B vitamins, as well as enzymes your gut needs to thrive. When you label certain foods as “good” or “bad” then you’ll automatically judge yourself for eating them, and deprive your body of the nutrients it actually needs.
Focus on how you feel & practice intuitive eating instead
While there are certainly healthier foods than others, it’s okay to find joy and pleasure from food. In fact, taking the time to enjoy what you’re eating is crucial for avoiding food guilt. Instead, studies show that when you practice intuitive eating by listening to your hunger cues, you’re less likely to over or under eat. Chances are, if you’re making heathier choices by listening to your body, then you’ll feel better. If you base all your food choices based on calories or macros, then you’ll likely feel deprived or live in food fear. Rather than focusing on how you’ll look if you restrict certain foods or exercise a certain amount, turn your attention to how you’ll feel.