I will be upfront about this: I do not recommend using rules about eating to lose weight or to maintain weight loss for many reasons. Here is an example.
Let’s say that you want to fit into that cute dress you bought for your best friend's wedding. It's a teeny bit tight. You think, no problem! I will go on the "trim your belly fat diet". The fine print sets you up. Do not eat more than 1200 calories per day.
You are doing great sticking to your 1200 calorie/day rule, then life intrudes to throw your plan off.
The weekend arrives and your family goes on a 6 1/2 mile hike. Here's the problem:You’ve burned through your 1200 calories and feel famished by the time you get home.
Now what? Here are some possible scenarios:
- You might refuse to eat even one calorie over your limit. You tell yourself, “I am on a diet!” and go to bed ravenously hungry.
- You might “give in” to hunger pangs and eat far more than 1200 calories. Oops, guilt sets in. “I trashed my diet, so I might as well eat up. I can always start dieting again on Monday.”
- Alternatively, you understand that 1200 calories simply is not enough to compensate for the extra physical exertion and you take along a healthy snack to avoid a drop in blood sugar. At dinner you feel a usual level of hunger - nothing drastic - and you are able to eat slowly and calmly. Your hunger is satisfied before getting stuffed.
Which of these outcomes rings true?
Imposing diet rules is counterproductive in the long run. Why? Because dieting overrides the body's signals: "Hello out there - is anybody listening?" When we don't listen to the messages the body sends, it's difficult to know how and when to feed it.
The only way to develop a positive relationship with food is to befriend your body and listen to the signals it sends, unhampered by rigid prescriptions about eating.
I'd love to hear about your experience with breaking free of diets.