I used to think that an apple would make me fat.
Let me explain: I love apples. They’re one of my favorite fruits. In college, there were many nights when I wanted to have another apple, not necessarily because I was hungry, but because I wanted to munch on a yummy piece of fruit.
But I’d hesitate, going back and forth in my mind about whether I truly wanted that apple, whether I truly needed it.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
I read how calories can add up when you least expect them to, contributing to a yearly weight gain. I’d read that in many magazines, and I became afraid of having that second apple, because I knew that having two apples a day could be risky.
Sure, it was only an apple, a seemingly innocent food with nutritious benefits. But, still, it had calories — and calories are calories — and I’d be eating it at night, when I couldn’t be active. Plus, I read that apples have tons of sugar in them. And sugar turns to fat, doesn’t it? That fat will encase my big belly, like it always does. And I’m not even hungry. Wait, am I hungry? I can’t tell anymore …
Sometimes, I’d cave in and have the second apple and then spend time wondering if I’d derailed my diet. If only I had more willpower, I’d think.
I also used to think that choosing low-fat or low-calorie ice cream over the regular stuff meant that I was being good … until, of course, I’d get home and eat the entire thing.
There are tons of diet assumptions and rules that I used to subscribe to; many erroneous and ridiculous beliefs that I misinterpreted as the truth, which fed my vicious cycle of dieting, overeating and shame.
Now, I try to eat intuitively and mindfully. I eat to nourish my body. I enjoy eating. I enjoy all foods in moderation. And I have two apples a day, if I want to.
Getting Rid of Diet Rules & Regulations
So many of us hold certain diet rules and regulations. Maybe you don’t eat past 7 o’clock. Maybe you only eat dessert on special occasions. Maybe you eat your salad without the dressing. Maybe you don’t eat after you’ve had your allotted points for the day — even if you’re hungry.
These diet rules can hold us back from leading a healthy and fulfilling life. They silence and suffocate our inner voice, the one that knows when we’re hungry and full. The one that tries to tell us what really nourishes our bodies, but we can’t hear it.
So, today, I’d like to challenge you to explore and eliminate (or at least reduce) your diet assumptions and rules.
Body image advocate Golda Poretsky, who owns and operates Body Love Wellness, suggests the following tips for getting rid of your diet rules in her post. (BTW, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Golda a while ago. I really admire her and her work.)
1. Call them out! Golda suggests writing down all the diet rules and regulations that still “haunt you.” Keep only the ones that “really honor your body and its changeability — such as getting adequate water, eating some leafy greens here and there stuff like that. Throw out any rules that limit the types of foods you can eat (unless you have allergies or other health concerns) and definitely toss the calorie and carb counting.”
2. Listen to yourself. Remember that inner voice that knows when we’re hungry and full, that voice that gets stifled by the diet mentality. Again, mine was. It was stifled by ridiculous rules and supposedly helpful tips and tricks. Golda suggests that we actively listen for that voice.
3. Pay attention. Stop listening to the diet noise, at least for a bit, and ask yourself what foods feel best, Golda writes. Notice the effects these foods have on your levels of comfort, energy, stress. What foods do you like to eat?
What are some of your diet assumptions and rules? Do these rules help you be happier and healthier? How do these diet rules make you feel?