Food Rules, Food Guilt and DIETS

In recent times as I sit in company and hear how we talk about our food, I begin to feel a deep sadness about how disconnected we are to a basic human right. Too many times we hear “oh I shouldn’t but I am going to be bold”. Lots of curious eyes as to who’s the one going to be brave enough to order dessert. So many times, I see the inner critic whirring away inside someones head telling them they should have been better and just said no.

Did you know the U.S. weight loss market is now worth $72 billion? Nope I bet you didn’t. Bet you didn’t know that most dieters want to eat “clean,” eliminating preservatives, GMOs, artificial flavours and sweeteners too. This is a perfect avenue for the diet companies to tap into new niches and target their next audience. By the way the meal replacement and shakes were worth approx $4.9billion in 2018. 1

What’s wrong with this story is that the foundation of this industry is based on creating fear, guilt and shame in so many humans about what they eat and even now what they don’t eat.

No longer preying on the ageing Baby Boomers of the 80’s they are moving forward to the next cohort of victims, Millennials. They create very attractive social media campaigns along with apps to help transform you into the Prince or Princess you’ve always dreamed of. And they’ve also learned the lingo, they’re no longer selling diets, they’re selling a lifestyle and no longer selling 6 packs, its strength and longevity.

But no matter what way they sell their FOOD RULES , aka DIET, the sad fact is that 95% of diets don’t work and most people don’t ever achieve what they are looking for…happiness, control and peace with food (2). How could you? 

Diet culture is deeply rooted in rules. We’ve had them all: eggs are bad, no carbs please, egg whites are better for you, go low-carb, try atkins, cabbage soup cleanse that cures, fats are bad, apple cider vinegar is great for everything, white foods are evil, give up grains and go paleo, no don’t go keto, oh wait is that atkins? I gest but you know where I am getting at….

All these rules make us so confused about what is actually the truth. And they make us feel GUILTY every time we eat a bad food, even every time you’ve eat food you do actually like.

Many of us never stop to think where have they come from though? Who has created these lists of should’s? And how true are they?

Have you even created any of your own rules…ones relevant to you? I encourage you to have a think and see where have most of your food rules come from? Mam/Dad, school, friends, weight-loss programmes, culture….

The good news is that innately we all know what the right kinds of foods to eat are, that’s how amazing this body of ours it. What if there was a way for you to create your own set of rules, you create them, you follow them and you get to decide whatever you want to eat?

It almost seems too good to be true doesn’t it.

I know I didn’t believe it possible that I would actually care less about what I eat the more I grew and studied in this area of Nutrition. Evidence emerges all the time about new and fascinating ways we can use food to our advantage, and that offers such exciting opportunities for us. However there is one very important step that has to happen for those benefits to have meaning in your life.

If you want to eat healthier, go for it…but drop the rules.

If you want to loose weight, then let no one stand in your way…but do it without the rules.

If you want to get on top of that IBS, feel less lethargic and embarrassment…then do it without the rules…

…the rules that others have created for you.

And here is why you drop the rules guys?

Because each and every one of us is biologically different, we have our own DNA, characteristics, traits, views and even our own gut microbiome.

We are so unique so what works for one won’t work for all.

And beyond the physical differences each and everyone of us has our own set of VALUES.

Rules are designed to control behaviour and can often deny us our feelings.

Rules and values co-exist.

If you take the example of IBS, what values might you be trying to honour in applying food rules? I’ll suggest a few here…balance, happiness, pleasure. 

In essence what I am saying is that if you want to create meaningful change with your dietary choices everyday then you will need to work hard on discovering and aligning your values to your actions. This can be challenging as it’s not how we are used to thinking. And our lazy but great brain prefers doing things the easy way.

Have some fun with this and spend some time thinking about the endless possibilities you could have if you were the one writing your rule book. Go on pull out your journal and write down all the restrictive rules you have. And when you have that done, rewrite them with ones you want to live by with this new knowledge.

FooDee x

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