Making your own rules for weight loss
“Hermione, you can have some cake for dessert tonight but we do not eat cake for breakfast.”
“That’s enough, Hamish; one helping is plenty.”
As adults, we understand we all need to learn to deal with food because it’s like most things in life – too little or too much is not desirable and can get us into trouble.
In the Western world where there is more than enough food available, it is eating too much that is getting us into trouble. Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute (MODI) reports that “obesity is considered the number one most serious health issue facing the developed world.”
Yes, we have an abundance of food and not all of it is healthy. Statistics are showing that without some checks and balances in place – rules and restrictions – we are extremely capable of taking in more energy than we use.
Rules and restrictions around food
The physical and psychological health issues associated with being overweight are not fun. The pain they cause can propel individuals into action. We decide we need to take responsibility for returning to a healthy weight. We get onboard with the idea of putting some “checks and balances” in place and typically that means we look to a weight loss diet plan, which by definition is checked and balanced for us.
Many weight loss diets prescribe each meal and calculate the calories for us. Others give us a list of forbidden foods (or even food groups) that are not to be consumed and another list of foods we are allowed to eat. (In the latter style of diet plan, obvious calorie-counting is largely taken care of by eliminating certain types of foods. It is usually difficult to overeat your free foods as they are typically not very calorie dense and/or because you get bored eating the same foods and stop overeating.)
Some of us love the idea of diet plans because the rules and restrictions are laid out for us. We believe we need those rules because we don’t trust ourselves to make good decisions about what we put in our mouths. But if we yo-yo diet, if we constantly break our diet, then actually we are also rebelling against the restrictions imposed by our eating plan. We don’t really find them acceptable.
There are many restrictions in life. With relationships, jobs, business ownership and finances, we accept the restrictions and enjoy the benefits. As adults we are aware of the consequences of not adhering to the limits that are placed on us.
Why then, are food restrictions such an issue?
I could write tomes on this subject but I won’t! If you struggle with weight loss I’m sure you are well aware of the conflict you have around wanting a slimmer you and also wanting to eat without restriction (at least sometimes). This is a frustrating and confusing position to find yourself in.
The question is, how can you get more okay with the limits around food that are going to get you what you want? A good place to start is by acknowledging the reality of our world:
You can eat whatever you like as long as you are prepared to pay the price.
If you decide the price of overeating is too high for you – because you understand what destructive eating is really costing you – then it’s time to look afresh at how you approach food, eating and your health.
Once you accept – rather than resist – the idea that some rules and restrictions are appropriate and will allow you to be free from the limitations of excess weight, you can make resourceful decisions you feel excited about and are willing to implement.
People who successfully lose weight and maintain the result fully accept that restrictions apply to this area of their life just the same as they do to other areas. They embrace the benefits rather than fighting the reality that overeating without restrictions does not lead them to their goal.
Words like ‘restriction’ can have a negative connotation or negative energy. They don’t have to but if you notice they do for you:
1. Keep reminding yourself we are ultimately talking about something that frees you and leads you to benefits you want
2. Substitute words that sound more positive to you. For example, instead of “rules” and “restrictions” for weight management , try:
- Personal system
- What works for me!
In my next post, I’ll give you my top tips for getting started making your own rules around food and eating. You’ll be able to implement these tips even if you’re a chronic dieter and the thought of being in charge feels unsafe.