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Making Nutrition Changes Without Suffering: How to Avoid the Diet Mindset for Losing Weight

When someone is considering making changes in how they eat, they often have this fear: If I stop eating this food that I enjoy, I will forever feel deprived. That is a legitimate fear. This fear is rooted in adopting our society's beliefs about what a diet is. If making a change in eating habits is synonymous with a list of rules and a list of forbidden foods, then the rest of life will be a miserable slog of wishing you can have a forbidden food and feelings of deprivation. This is the unhappy diet mindset for losing weight.

Before continuing, I want to be very clear that I am not going to present some magical way of forbidding foods and also never feeling deprived. Instead I am going to talk about the mindset of eating and dieting.

It is fairly common for people who have a history of on and off dieting for losing weight to have a black and white mindset with eating: Either a food is good or bad. Either it is OK to eat or forbidden. While it is theoretically true that adhering to a nice long list of forbidden foods will lead to weight loss, in real life, humans aren't built to do that.

A more realistic and healthy approach to food and eating might not lead to much weight loss--or any weight loss at all, but it will allow you to feel calm around food. It can improve your quality of life, enjoyment of food, and mental wellbeing. It can also translate into eating habits that can support improving your physical health. This new perspective contrasts to the diet mindset for losing weight.

What if we approached nutrition by examining what is missing? What if we can add things in instead of taking them away? Here are a few examples of this abundance mindset with eating.

abundant array of food

How to Add Food into Your Eating Pattern: Abundance Mindset With Food Rather Than the Diet Mindset for Losing Weight

  • Try a new spice. Look through the spice section at the store and find something you have not tried. See if you can smell it through the wrapper to get a hint of your new flavor. An new spice or flavor can add excitement to dishes you already make.

  • Try a new cuisine. If you have never had Thai food, middle eastern food, or Mediterranean food, now is a good time to try! Bringing in new flavors and food combinations can add more delicious foods to your repertoire.

  • Try a new cooking method. Maybe you always steam broccoli, roast mushrooms, and use celery in a soup. Try roasted broccoli, mushrooms in a soup, and braised celery. The texture will be different, and adding that variation can make a meal more enticing.

  • Try something unusual. Look through a cookbook to find a recipe you would never try, and try it. It might not become your next favorite food, but it can introduce you to new flavors and food combinations.

  • Try those foods you think you don't like. If you are ready to, now is a great time to lengthen the list of foods you like. It is not about twisting your arm until you convince yourself that you like something you really dislike. It is about gradual exposures to a food until it is more familiar to you and then has the potential to be something you like. (Read more about that here!)

The abundance mindset with nutrition focuses on what to add into an eating pattern. It involves having more options of delicious foods to eat. In contrast, the diet mindset for losing weight is the deprivation mindset. It only focuses on things to forbid and avoid. This will lead to a much shorter list of acceptable foods, and likely, an unhappy eater.

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1 Comment

Jan 22

Very informative- will try

Mrs P


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