A very long time ago, I wished that I could eat whatever I wanted and not get fat. I should have been careful what I wished for because as a result of that wish I discovered that gorging and purging did the trick. Oh, but there was a huge problem. Becoming bulimic in my 20’s practically ruined my life and my health. It was a very dark time for me. The obsession and preoccupation with food was nightmarish. My sister and I thought we had discovered the ultimate magic diet. Eat two pints of ice cream, plus a box of cookies, wait until we were tragically close to unconsciousness, and then purge it. Every day. Several times per day. I would not wish this on anyone.
As I often share through my blogs and books, landing on my feet, becoming happy, free, relaxed, and confident around food and nutrition was the most transformational experience of my entire life. If you can relate to the struggle that now, for me, lives in the past where it belongs, have faith. I am going to show you how to get squared away and how to eat whatever you want while becoming and remaining trim. I learned this the hard way so that you don’t have to. Know that becoming and remaining healthy and trim is the result of many factors, even beyond what I have written below. But let’s get you started in the right direction.
Ten Steps for Eating Whatever You Want
While Becoming and Remaining Trim
- Assess your chassis. If you are large-boned, tell yourself that you are not going to be a skinny-minny. (Check this out on line!) Release that goal because it sets you up for failure. If you are small, and you are eating as if you were larger, assessing your chassis will help. Get a sense of your body type, size, and shape so you learn to nurture you exactly as you are. Quit trying to achieve a body type that is different than the one you were born with and quit eating disproportionately with what your unique body needs. One of my clients is tall and gorgeous and naturally voluptuous. She is hot, too. Through Health Coaching she lost less weight than she thought she wanted to, but loved how she looked and felt more than she thought she would. Isn’t that marvelous
- Get real with what you like to eat and be willing to make adjustments. Let’s say you love barbequed ribs. I use this example because I am listening to and HIGHLY RECOMMEND Shonda Rhimes’ book, Year of Yes. When she set out to lose about 100 pounds, the first thing she told herself was that she could eat whatever she wanted and not diet. What she did, and what I am recommending that you do, is to know what you love to eat. If it happens to be barbequed ribs, know that you can eat them. Just not enough to tip the scales and make you stuffed and fat. Replace the ribs with anything that you love to eat. Food does not make you fat. Eating too much of it does.
- Quit empowering food. Empower yourself. Food is not the playground bully that forces you to eat something. Stare down your relationship with food so that you are in charge. I glance at the flax chips at Trader Joes, something I know I am capable of inhaling in copious quantities and say to myself, nope, not going to go there. I do not stand in the aisle flirting with the chips, looking at them longingly, as if I had a crush on them. You are not in 7th grade and your infatuation is just that. Who is the boss? You are! Use your voice to tell the food who is in charge.
- Practice the food and exercise equation. I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that you must move, sweat, breathe deeply, and create a pump and release of your muscles in order to burn calories. I call it good news because you have this amazing tool. It is often free (as in a brisk walk) and it elevates your mood by increasing feel-good hormones and reducing stress. The bad news is that you cannot over exercise to compensate for pigging out. Keep your exercise-to-food ratio in check. Do not create false expectations about exercising that prompts you to take in too much food.
- Check out your body in the mirror. I have read a countless book and articles about food and attended many thousands of hours of training on nutrition. Maybe I have missed something, but I have never read the recommendation that we should look at our bodies in the mirror. Yet, this is so obvious to me. I have spoken with many people who say that they never check themselves out in the mirror. They have no idea if their belly is twice as big as it was last month. They ignore how they look. I include it here because when you see how you look, you can make food choices to support how you want to look. Get a sense of how your shape and size are affected by what you have been eating. Make necessary adjustments and use the mirror for feedback. Do it lovingly and avoid being mean or critical to yourself.
- Do things to help you relax. Stress is the culprit that lurks beside everything from binge eating to mindless snacking throughout the day. Food works to tamp down feelings that you don’t want to feel. Releasing tension physical, emotional, and mental enables you to feel much freer in making food selections. Relaxation is your friend when you want to make healthier choices. The calmer you are, the less you need food to put out the fire of stress. Physical relaxation means relaxing your body. Emotional relaxation means you speak up and learn to express yourself. Mental relaxation means that you take a break from being over-worked and let yourself unwind. Long, deep, unhurried breaths addresses each of these three categories. Putting down your fork and eating more slowly will make a world of difference in how much volume you consume.
- Teach yourself to love food that is good for you. If you want to eat whatever you want, it also makes a world of difference to include lots of nutritious food. Salads, veggies, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and nuts are examples of food that nourishes you. The more real nourishment you give your body (vitamins; minerals; healthy fats, carbs, and protein) the more satisfied you feel. The more complete and balanced your meals and snacks are, the less your body is at risk for shoveling in more food than you can use to try to compensate for a deficit of real nutrition.
- Find ways to soothe yourself. It will save your life, your heart, and your waistline to have alternatives to eating in order to feel good. Being able to eat whatever you want without getting sick or fat means modifying how much you want to eat. If calling a good friend who is also a good listener helps you feel loved, then you don’t need to use food as your surrogate soulmate. Shonda Rimes admitted that the warm cookies she used to eat made her feel good. When she decided to shed over 100 pounds she was forced to find other ways to feel good. Playing with her kids gave her that joy. Surely you have things in your life that make you feel happy and at peace. Do more of those things as you learn to detach from eating too much food.
- Have a plan. My clients tell me this all the time. If they plan ahead, they are way more in control of what, when, where, and how much they take in food. If you take a few minutes in the morning to pack a hard-boiled egg, an organic Fuji apple, and some crunchy all-natural peanut butter for lunch, you will be less at risk to just grab something, filling up on something that is not so good for you, and that stimulates eating more than you need. Making time to stop at the market to have at home plenty of veggies for a salad or omelet means that there is no way you will fill up on popcorn for dinner. Think ahead. Don’t let yourself be stuck anywhere without access to nutritious food.
- Live a purposeful life. What does this even mean? Focusing on contribution and growth continuously presents itself in my work. Doing things to make a difference for others and stretching myself to become better work like magic to keep me focused on larger and often altruistic goals. I think it will work for you too. This shift in focus works like a magic charm to steer us away from the kitchen or local pie shop. Working toward a cause, such as rescuing senior dogs, helps us feel so incredibly fulfilled, it becomes unnecessary to seek unhealthy ways to fill ourselves up. I urge you to find meaningful things to do with your life. Then it makes more sense to practice healthy habits with food and nutrition. Rhimes realized that she didn’t want to die, once she figured out her purpose for being alive. You can syphon off and repurpose energy that was potentially wasted and apply it to living your higher purpose.
- Bonus tip. These are classic, oldies-but-goodies, and are always in the tool bag of those of us who befriend food without losing control or our waistlines. Drink lots of water throughout the day. You will have more success in the bathroom, which helps clean you out. You will be
more full during the day, which helps to turn down the hunger drive. Another classic one is to use small plates. Even though you know you are tricking yourself psychologically, it still works. Splitting entries at the restaurant is an excellent practice, once you take a good look at how super-sized many meals have become. Slowing down when you eat helps everyone want less volume of food, so it can work for you too.
With love and encouragement,
Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
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