All foods fit. Yes, even cookies.
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Today’s topic is going to build on my last two posts where we talked about weight stigma and diet culture. At the end of the day, many of us still want to live a healthy life so that we can be around and well for our families for as long as possible. I completely understand that! After all, without our physical and mental health, it becomes much harder to do anything else.
Social media has a plethora of suggestions on how you can become “healthier”, but for the most part, the advice is predicated on cutting out some significant part of your current eating pattern. Severe restriction, whether it’s limiting calories, restricting food groups, or eliminating a specific nutrient or ingredient, is ultimately really difficult to sustain in the long run. Lucky for us, our bodies are really smart. Unlucky for us, our bodies really don’t care if we have a six-pack or not.
After a period of restriction and weight loss, your body starts to worry about its survival and compensates for the negative caloric balance by slowing down metabolism and making your body need less calories to maintain its weight. Thus, weight loss plateaus and over 95% of people that do lose weight on restrictive diets end up gaining the weight back within two years.
Additionally, when restricting your favourite foods (that may be higher in sugar or fat), you eventually get hit with heavy cravings. You know the ones I’m talking about…the craving that is somewhat easy to "willpower" your way through in the beginning, but over time, it starts taking over your thoughts and you become more and more food-focused. Trust me, I’ve been there! For many people, this can lead to a binge. ‘I already ate one cookie and ruined my diet, so I might as well eat the whole box and start over tomorrow…’ Sound familiar? This restrict-binge-repent cycle is all too common in dieters and can actually be harmful to health.
That’s the bad news. But guess what? I actually have the magical solution for you. It’s truly a game-changer. It is the holy grail of health.
You ready for it?
Here it is:
It’s important to remember that when you eat food, you’re not just eating a single nutrient. You’re eating a complex blend of numerous nutrients and energy, you’re experiencing sensory pleasure from tastes and textures, and you’re forging social bonds with your family and friends. All these things matter.
The key is to consider the total diet, or the overall eating pattern, instead of focusing on a single nutrient or just the number of calories going in. The wonderful news is that all foods fit in this approach as long as they are consumed in moderation and in appropriate portion sizes.
The idea that all foods can fit in a healthy lifestyle may be a new or jarring concept for you, but labelling foods as “good” and “bad” is extremely counterproductive. That dichotomous thinking is what leads people to restrict-binge-repent cycles that ultimately contribute to yo-yo dieting and the consequential weight-cycling.
The take-away here is to focus on the overall eating pattern. Prioritize eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins, while still incorporating pizza and bread and whatever other foods that bring you pleasure.