Most diets start off as a simple awareness to eat healthier. Maybe even lose a little excess body fat, or tone it up a notch. Some will call it a diet, some call it cutting, some call it eating cleaner. But, unless we have some sort of medical need to modify our eating behaviors, diets are not necessary and can be extremely dangerous not only to our physical health, but especially our mental health. What we eat is such a huge part of who we are. If we are made to be constantly cognizant of what, how, when, and where we’re eating, this can quickly become an obsession. Now, understand that, I am NOT saying being aware of, or choosing to make healthier food options is unhealthy. In fact, I think it’s something we should all do. What I am claiming to be unhealthy is, physically and mentally restricting food in efforts to control one’s weight, appearance, or even happiness. Whatever you think, your body hears. Many of you ladies will find yourself consuming feed after feed of articles, IG posts, and YouTube videos of beautiful, fit, seemingly happy people telling you their idea of a “perfect diet” and essentially, how you should eat if you want to be healthy like them. These messages send your subconscious mind false beliefs that there is something superior about their way, and something wrong with yours. You may even start finding that you are comparing yourself to these people, and noticing negative things about yourself that you didn’t pay attention to before. These insecurities start driving the unwanted food anxieties, social isolation, and even binges.
If you are constantly obsessing about every detail of your food, how your body will react to it, how you look before/after eating, how you feel after eating- you are literally going to start feeling every single one of those thoughts. Despite the “control” or satisfaction you perceive around constantly counting, measuring, tracking, planning, or analyzing the food you eat, you are in all actuality losing control of your health AND happiness. I don’t know one woman who lives in this mindset that is truly “happy.” In fact, most messages I receive are from women begging me to teach them how to just be “normal” around food again. Hear me say this: there is nothing superior about being held prisoner by your deepest insecurities. How miserable it is to miss out on the joys of dining with your loved ones because you’re trying calculate how many grams of carbs you’ve eaten or judging how much others are consuming around you. What’s worse is, your body is not only suffering the physical aspects restriction, but the extreme mental stress of the mental restriction as well. Yes, you are mentally restricting if you go back and forth in your head about what you eat. Perhaps you are thinking you shouldn’t be hungry yet because you just ate two hours ago or maybe you are forgoing on some delicious looking granola bars because you are convinced you’ll be bloated for days if you have some. Did you know can literally think yourself into digestive upset just by obsessing over what is in your food or how it will react to your body? Likewise, if you are approaching each food with the mentality that there is something wrong with it you will naturally start shrinking your list of acceptable foods until you find yourself only eating several of the same foods every single day.
Alleviate the stress of restriction and control by choosing foods that you don’t have to think about. Have you ever thought about how some foods like bananas or carrots don’t always have nutrition labels on them? It isn’t because FDA is trying to “trick” you- it’s because raw fruits and vegetables are literally exempt from labeling . My point is, eat an abundance of whole, nutrient dense foods. Foods that you don’t need to read a label for. When I went vegan, all of my food anxiety disappeared. I know this is because I didn’t have to think about what I was eating. I knew all the food I was eating was healthy is great for my body. I gave my mind permission to finally relax and ENJOY until satisfaction without being interrupted by anxiety. Some people still argue that a plant-based diet is restrictive. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A plant-based diet, only eliminates two food groups: meat and dairy (essentially animal products). That leaves all fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, starches and grains available for your eating pleasure. What is so restrictive about that?! And sure, I may still have some processed foods from time to time, but I honestly don’t think twice about it because I know a little extra oil or added sugar occasionally is way better than eating fast food and soda everyday! There is no perfect diet or way of eating, but there is a diet that is optimal for health, weight management, and overall functioning. That diet is one that consists of mainly whole, nutrient dense, plant-based foods with carbohydrates as our main macronutrient source. When you eat a plant-based diet you remove the guessing and stressing. When you eliminate the stress, your mind and body relax. When you relax your body can be fully nourished and happy. When you are happy and nourished you can enjoy life without worrying about dieting.