Intuitive Eating Part II | Washington, DC Dietitian

Rejecting the Diet Mentality

It’s the same story I hear from clients. They try a diet and do great, losing 15-20 pounds in the first few months. Then they become hungry, irritated – mad that they are missing out on parties and events because of the diet they are on. They become resentful of the plan and feel deprived of their favorite foods, spiraling into negative thoughts and eventually giving up on the diet. These negative thoughts and “screw it” attitude lead to overeating on the foods they were restricting and can possibly lead to binging. A few weeks of this all-or-nothing mindset around eating, and any weight that was lost on the diet is back, plus some. Feeling defeated and unwell, they find the next diet to try, bringing them into a constant cycle of dieting and overeating and then dieting again. 

If you’ve ever been on a diet you know the feelings around it. At first it is exciting, you feel motivated, and you are ready to make a commitment. You do well for a couple of days and although you’re a little hungry you may see some results and stay motivated. Then you might slip or cheat and feel some guilt around it. Sometimes you can bounce back, but other times that guilt makes it hard to commit and you end up “falling off the wagon.” If you make it through the diet you enjoy your success, but then become stressed about keeping the weight off. This sometimes leads to obsessive thoughts about calories, food intake, and your weight. Overall this situation is stressful and anything but a mindful approach to food intake. As a consequence, this can wreak havoc on your self image, confidence and overall body acceptance. 

If you are currently in this dieting cycle you may know that it is hard to break from, but in order to live a healthy and happier life, it is key. Rejecting the diet mentality is the first step in intuitive eating and bringing you closer to listening to and accepting your body and your needs. If you are reading this, you are probably tired of dieting and trying the next big thing that will help you lose weight. If that is the case, it is time to get rid of any thoughts around quick diets. Throw out any diet books, magazine articles, or bookmarked diet pages that have promised results only to leave you stressed out and dissatisfied. Get angry about the diets that you have tried that made you feel like a failure once you were off of them and gained the weight back. Diets don’t work and the first step to reaching a healthier relationship with food is letting go and being free of them. 

It can be scary to let go of the diet mentality, but once you do you will quickly find that your stress will decrease and you will start to learn more about yourself and your personal needs. If you need some support during this process, feel free to set up an appointment with someone certified in Intuitive Eating to learn more about the next steps and how to succeed with your new mindset.

This blog post is part II of the Intuitive Eating series. Missed out on part 1? Click here!

This post was first posted on the blog for Capital Center for Psychotherapy & Wellness

Intuitive Eating Part One | Washington DC Dietitian

In our society it has become common to base our food intake off of what magazines, media, celebrities and the Internet tell us to do. All around you there are diet plans, weight loss pills and supplements, and new programs that are promising fast results. At the same time food marketing on TV and in the grocery store is at an all time high, making it nearly impossible to resist temptation.

It is important to remember that you are completely unique in your calorie and nutrient needs depending on how much you exercise, your genetic composition, your age, gender and your food intake. In light of this, many individuals on diets may not be getting the correct nutrients or calories that they need, causing them to either overeat or undereat, which inevitably leads to unintended weight gain. Something else to consider is that each person is unique in their customs, food preferences, family support, and the environment in which they live in. Diets and food plans don't take any of this into consideration. They can seem exciting at first, but after the first few days or weeks it is common for people to feel hungry, deprived, and irritated. It is even more common for people to follow a diet plan, then finish and regain the weight, causing a cycle of deprivation followed by overeating. 

So, how can someone break this cycle with intuitive eating?

The answer to breaking the dieting cycle is in listening to your body with mindful and intuitive eating. Your body knows better than any magazine article what it needs and what it craves. As we get older we forget to listen to our body, which causes a disconnect that can have harmful effects both physically and mentally. Getting in tune with your body’s cravings like we did as children brings you back in control of your food choices and eventually brings you to a healthy weight for your body. This includes listening to your body’s signals by eating when you are hungry, eating slowly and enjoying your food, and stopping when you feel satisfied – not too full. It involves retraining your mind to reject diets and, instead, eat balanced meals that satisfy you and don’t leave you feeling deprived or weighed down. It also means finding ways to handle emotions without using food while also accepting your body to improve self-esteem.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Intuitive eating is not a diet, but a way of life that is maintainable and long term, allowing you to eat the foods that you enjoy without any stress or guilt. The process is broken down into 10 Principles that will get you back in touch with your body and leave you free from dieting and deprivation:

  • Reject the diet mentality
  • Honor Your Hunger
  • Make Peace with Food
  • Challenge the Food Police
  • Respect your Fullness
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  • Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
  • Respect Your Body
  • Exercise – Feel the Difference
  • Honor Your Health

In this blog series we will go through each of the principles of Intuitive Eating to help bring you to a place of acceptance around food instead of fear or anxiety. The first step is to reject the Diet Mentality which we will discuss in more detail in the next post.

For more information visit www.intuitiveeating.com

This article was first posted on www.capitalpsychotherapy.com

Let's Give Carbs a Chance | Washington DC Dietitian

Carbohydrates. As a nation we love to hate them. They are the first thing to be eliminated from our diets and the first thing we blame for weight gain. Yes, carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, but like most foods it isn’t because they are bad for you, but because of the amount that we eat. Rice and pasta are healthy until we consume 3 or 4 cups at one time!

The fact is that carbohydrates from starches, fruit and dairy are essential for survival. They provide us with energy and nutrients and are our main source of fuel. When we are born we rely on carbohydrates from milk for the first few months of our lives. It is human nature to crave and consume carbs because we were intended to.

This topic is important to me because often times the first thing you hear when someone is on a diet is that they cut out carbohydrates, even though they are needed for survival.

Things are about to get technical while I explain the facts about carbs.

Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. Carbohydrates turn into glucose in our bodies and glucose is the only source of energy for the brain, nervous system and red blood cells. Carbohydrate stores in the body don’t last long so the only way to replace them is by doing one thing: eating more carbs (about every 4-6 hours)!

When the body doesn’t get energy from carbohydrates it turns to the next fuel source: protein from your muscles. Protein gets taken apart and turned into glucose to provide energy, which weakens your hard-earned muscle mass. When muscle mass is reduced, your metabolism slows down which can lead to weight gain. This is the opposite of your goal.

Sadly, eating a high protein diet will not restore the lost muscle mass. When carbohydrates are sparse, the protein you eat is used for fuel instead of doing what it is intended to: building and repairing your muscles, hormones, enzymes and cells.

But what about fat? Our initial thought is that fat could be used for energy to help us lose weight, but that is not the case. Our main source of fuel is carbohydrates, followed by protein, followed by small amounts of fat. 

Yes, weight loss can be fast when we eliminate carbohydrates due to the “hydrate” in “carbohydrate”. Carbohydrates attract water so when we cut them out we initially lose water weight. This is not to be confused with losing actual fat mass. Once you start consuming carbs again it is likely you will gain that weight back.

To sum it up, carbohydrates are VERY important. They are the main source of fuel for our bodies. When we reduce carbohydrate intake energy comes from our muscles, which decreases muscle mass, slows your metabolism and can lead to long-term weight gain. Bottom line, include carbohydrates as part of a healthy, balanced diet for optimal health and performance.