I know that a lot of my readers care about their health and as a consequence also about their weight. We sometimes tend to think the lower the weight, the better it is for our health and the most ‘obvious’ way to achieve that goal is dieting.
Now let me debunk two of these assumptions. First, let’s talk about weight: weight is a number that defines how heavy our bones, muscles and fat reserves are. Less than the actual number, the composition is essential: ideally we have more muscle weight than fat (talk about numbers defined in general med) especially women think though that weight needs to be low. Now our genes play a role here too as they define if we tend to gain weight faster and keep it on for longer or if we tend to be skinnier and have trouble actually gaining weight. There is a gigantic spectrum of all of this and it’s absurd to try to fit ourselves in an ‘ideal’ mold because that can be extremely restrictive. The key is the second point that I want to discuss, which is diet and dieting.
I don’t believe in diets and quite frankly I have never done any. I think it’s not absurd to state that diets are overall restrictive and unbalanced. Usually they tell us what we should not eat, which is the first problem. I believe that knowing what you should eat is actually the key to a healthy weight. The moment we tell ourselves that some foods are bad and others are good, we design a point system in our head that creates feelings of obligations and guilt if we don’t stick to these obligations. This ultimately leads to unfulfilled cravings and oftentimes to bingeing, followed by restriction which will just end with a vicious cycle of dieting. It also leads us to create a wrong relationship to our food – instead of enjoying it we constantly think about how it complies with our diet. This is not healthy and realistically not long term sustainable. It’s also not sustainable to ban certain food groups as a whole from our diets or instead to focus on some. Paleo tells us for example that protein is the most important thing ever and Atkins wants us to ban carbs from our lives. This sounds extreme and it is because we need all 3 macronutrients in the right proportions to be healthy.
I hence advocate for the anti diet; instead of talking about good and bad foods I want people to think about real and fake foods. Simple rule: real foods are unprocessed or minimally processed, meaning they are close to their original state. Fake foods are foods that are not recognizable, they have added sugars, fats and/or preservatives and colors. Eat real foods and don’t buy fake ones. In addition, science has proven over and over again that eating plant based is the most health supportive and anti inflammatory way of eating so stay away from animal products. In addition, my anti diet focuses on eating slowly and mindfully so that your body and soul are equally nourished with the fuel that you put inside yourself. That’s it. And guess what? You don’t have to count calories, ban desserts or carbs, cut out fat or keep a food diary. You just have to eat these whole plant based foods, and listen to your body for quantity (eat until about 80% full, when you have your first burp) and timing (some people prefer 3 bigger meals, others like 5 smaller ones – just make sure you actually make each meal a real meal by sitting down and focusing on what you are eating while turing off all other distractions). This is how everybody can find balance and health, without restrictions and without negative thoughts around food.