What we perceive as a problem, or the things that we tell ourselves, can make all the difference in our ability to make lasting change. Over the years I have heard many common statements from individuals when discussing health and nutrition. As with many things, the truth is discovered by diving further into and unpacking the reason behind them. In this posting I will list some of the more prominent sayings and my take on them.
I can’t eat the same thing every day!
This is one of the most common statements I hear, or a variation of this, in relation to making changes to nutritional habits. Ironically, almost everyone does exactly that. We go day to day functioning on auto-pilot regarding our nutrition. Eating the same things week to week. And this continues year after year.
Pay attention to the foods you shop for on a weekly basis. The restaurants you frequently visit, common meals or dishes you prepare at home. I’d be willing to bet you will start to notice a trend. We are all creatures of habit and build behaviors around our lifestyles and foods that we like. As a part of this, typically each person has a list of foods that they commonly eat.
I feel the statement about not eating the same things derives from a misunderstanding in what is required to improve health. I will admit, there are many opportunities within the common American diet to choose alternatives or more optimal food choices. This does not mean that food must be bland and lacking in flavor. But keep in mind, eating the same foods over time makes tracking much easier.
I do eat mostly the same foods week after week. I use food for entertainment purposes infrequently, and plan for those occasions. However, those are special occasions and a much smaller sampling of my overall dietary approach for goal achievement.
And while I use many common “base ingredients” in my meals, there are countless options for changing up these meals. Spices, recipes, and a variety of food preparation methods exist to keep from feeling burned out or bored with your nutrition.
I’ve tried many diets over the years and none of them worked!
Me: “Did you lose any weight while on them?”
Person: “Well yes, but it came back after.”
Me: “After what?”
Person: “When I finished the diet.”
Were the diets at fault?
While I have my preference for dietary approach to achieve fat loss, there are many diets that will work as it relates to the client’s goal. The common shortcoming is the “diet after the diet.” Basically, after losing weight in a diet, many go right back to doing what they did before the diet. And in turn, they receive the same result that motivated them to diet in the first place. If you keep doing what you’ve always done you will get the same results, you must make a change – forever. Diet does not just mean a temporary thing you do, it describes the way you eat. The foods you choose and habits and structure around food.
I’m eating healthy, but I’m not losing fat!
The term “healthy” can be rather elusive and complicated. Therefore, I feel it is important to educate my clients on foods and to do my best to clarify what eating healthy truly means. When someone makes this statement, often it comes down to them simply underestimating their caloric intake.
Most people eat far more than they think. This is compounded by the fact that they also move far less than they think. In fact, the average person underestimates their caloric intake by almost 50% and overestimates their activity level by 30%.
Where is the disconnect?
Snacking, or occasional bouts of mindless eating throughout the day. Taking bites while cooking, grazing on chips or candy, all those things add up. In some cases, they account for hundreds of calories a day. This makes all the difference between you losing weight and not.
Tracking of foods is often an eye-opening experience. I consistently have people tell me how surprised at how many calories certain foods contain and just how small 1 serving can be. I recommend that everyone track their foods for at least a couple weeks to get a feel for proper servings and to have a more accurate gauge of just how much they are eating a day.
Not so surprisingly, research on long-term weight loss shows people who lose weight and keep it off do not snack.
You’re too skinny, you don’t need to follow a diet!
OK, so this one is a little different. I’ve often had clients report being told things of this nature by friends and family.
Full disclosure (filter removed) … The world has become so overweight that people have a skewed perception of what a healthy weight looks like. The comparison by which they judge you is flawed to begin with. And in many cases, people will make statements towards others that are more often a reflection of their own insecurities. If they acknowledged your positive changes would they then have to admit their own failures? This applies to food shaming as well. “Erik can’t have pizza, he’s on a diet.” This is then followed up by laughing. The truth is, I can have whatever I would like. I could eat an entire pizza if I so desired. My dietary choices are in line with specific goals unique to me. If someone else wants to have pizza every day, go right ahead. I get it, I make people uncomfortable with my healthy choices. Funny how it doesn’t bother me if someone decides to do the exact opposite of what I do.