If you feel bad about your diet, now you can feel bad about feeling bad…which should make you feel good. Right? A study shows that how kind your are to yourself significantly affects health and weight loss.
Why diets fail (as if you don’t already know)
Chances are if you’ve been on a diet and failed, you already know why it fails. You restrict your choices so much, restrict your calories too much, maybe force yourself to exercise too much…and you crack. (I’ve seriously no idea how anyone could possibly have long-term success with something like the hCG diet.)
When you crack, maybe you get back on the wagon…or maybe you get so angry with yourself, you sabotage your entire goal and give up. I hate to say it, but the latter seems to happen too often.
Food has much more effect on us than just nourishing our bodies. Foods affect our mood, our brains and how we feel. People can become addicted to certain foods. For example, if someone drinks a lot of coffee or eats a lot of refined sugar, when they don’t have it, it can make them feel really terrible.
Abruptly changing your diet or severely restricting yourself can work against you if you are too harsh on yourself.
Why you should cut yourself some slack
If you are considering making serious changes to your diet, allow some room for slip ups! Even incorporate a bit of space in your diet for your favorite things whether they’re full-fat brownies or Coke. If you deprive yourself of everything all the time, it’s like you are punishing yourself.
According to the study, those who are highly restrictive eaters end up eating more unhealthy food than those who are less restrictive. It’s certainly a paradox, but it is thought to have to do with self-compassion. Those who gave themselves permission (the less restrictive eaters) didn’t feel guilty about it, while the highly restrictively eaters felt guilty and engaged in emotional eating.
How you can be nicer to yourself
Firstly, begin by giving your body the best, most healthful food for normal meals. Whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats will make you feel a lot better than pre-packaged diet food.
Having done it myself nearly two years ago, I know that moving to a diet of whole foods can be *very* difficult if you are accustomed to refined sugar and grains…so cut yourself some slack. If you slip up, get back on the wagon. Don’t punish yourself.
If you continue to eat whole foods, you will realize that they make you feel great and healthy and help you lose weight, but realize that an occasional splurge can be good for the soul (and thus your diet) too.
Check out some of the resources we have at Eat.Drink.Better for some recipes and inspiration.
The original study
Photo cred: Flickr Creative Commons by charlottedownie