The mere sound of the word “diet” makes me cringe – and I’m sure I’m not alone. For many it represents restrictions, which is an immediate ground for resistance. My personal and professional experience is that diets don’t work. Or if they do, they only work for a short while, and that’s because most individuals eat so poorly that any kind of structured meal planning will have a beneficial effect…for a limited time.
But after the first couple of weeks of dieting, which mostly results in water loss, the downward trend of the scale begins to level out, and the rules begin to feel too restrictive. Before you know it, you’re eating the way you used to. Not only do the pounds that you lost begin to reappear, but often an additional 15 percent of that lost poundage along with it! In the long run, if you lost 20 pounds, you’re now three pounds heavier then when you began!
The relationship we have with our food is one of the most intimate relationships we’ll have in our lifetime. Think about it – when we eat, we merge with our food. Through the digestive process, our food is absorbed into our blood, flows through our organs and literally becomes who we are and even what we think. That’s why my job is such a delicate one. I coach people on a subject that is very intimate for them…their food.
More important than counting calories, I teach my clients to recognize the various forms of nourishment that our bodies need. This involves the food on our plate as well as something we call “primary food,” which is the food for our souls: satisfying relationships, exercise, rewarding careers and spirituality.
Do you remember when you were a little child and you were outside playing with your friends? Your mom would call you in for dinner and what was your usual answer? “I’m not hungry yet…I don’t want to come in now…just a few minutes more…I’ll be right there” and 15 minutes later she’d have to call you again. You were playing with your friends, your blood was pumping, your endorphins soaring – you didn’t need to eat! That is the power of exercise as primary food.
Remember the first time you fell in love? Remember how your stomach flipped when you thought about him or her? You spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking about the last time you were together and looking forward to when you’d meet next. Were you thinking about food? You probably had to be reminded to eat! This is the power of love as primary food.
Everything we eat, and consequently everything we think about ourselves, affects us physically. Likewise, everything we think about ourselves has a tremendous influence on the foods that we choose to eat. So, when someone comes to me because they have a weight issue, the first thing I ask them about concerns their primary food. When your level of primary food is poor, your choice of nourishment and the effectiveness of the weight loss programs you go on, mean very little. If you are looking to lose weight, you can do so on a much more permanent basis when you learn the benefits of a healthy regimen of primary food as well as having quality whole foods on your plate.
Here are a few questions for those of you who are looking to lose weight:
How’s the job going? What kind of stress levels are you experiencing there? If you hate your job and you’re overweight, chances are you are not going to lose that weight until you lower the level of stress on the job. Most likely food is your main source of comfort.
Are you in a committed relationship? If not, loneliness is one of the top causes for obesity. If you are lonely, that is the first issue to deal with.
If you are in a relationship, how is it going? Are you facing a particular crisis? Are you living in an ongoing crisis? I’ve worked with couples whose only common bond was the food that they ate together.
How are your relationships with your parents, children and friends?
Perhaps you need to let go of something that is plaguing you. If you have an issue that is “eating away at you” you will frequently “eat away” at something else in an effort to push down your feelings.
Are you exercising? Exercise helps to alkalize the body, gets the endorphins going and allows oxygen to penetrate the blood cells. Very often exercise is all one needs to drop the few pounds they are looking to lose. However, if you are 65 years old, and have never done a day of exercise, don’t go off and join the first kickboxing class that comes along. Your current lifestyle and your likes and dislikes are the basis upon which you should develop a plan that will realistically work for you.
With my clients I use a gentle but thorough approach to weight loss by:
- Eliminating as much stress as we possible can.
- Establishing some kind of simple exercise program.
- Deconstructing your cravings by understanding what’s going on in your life both emotionally and physically
- Crowding out the bad foods by slowly introducing good, healthy foods into your daily eating routine.
I love to see the reaction on my clients’ faces when I ask them what they do while they’re eating. Do you ever find yourself eating over the sink because you’re in a rush and don’t want to take time to clean up the crumbs? How about standing up, watching the TV as you mechanically shovel the food into your mouth, unaware if it’s a plate of pasta or a bowl of shredded wheat? Not to mention the unnecessary stimulation TV causes and the effect it has on your digestion.
It’s important not to skip meals. Very often I have clients who say, “But I can’t eat lunch – I just don’t have the time.” If you are really serious about losing weight, your health must be your greatest priority and it is essential for good health to make time to eat! When we skip a meal we become famished, and by the time we get around to eating, we’re so hungry we don’t care what it is or how much of it we consume! Or, we find ourselves raiding the refrigerator at 2 a.m. in the morning after waking with hunger pains. This is unhealthy because during the night and early morning hours our digestive organs need to rest. The liver in particular needs to purify the blood, which is interrupted and altered when late meals are eaten.
If my clients are craving sweets we look at that very closely. Contrary to popular belief, sugar is not usually the primary problem – it’s a solution the body resorts to, especially when it needs energy.
Do you ever find yourself thinking how wonderful it would be to maintain physical and emotional health by really learning how to cook and eat foods that are good specifically for you? Ultimately, a weight loss program that works is very individualized. One person might need bulk and fiber while another may need fat dissolving vegetables. It’s important that you develop a strong knowledge of what works for you to provide maximum energy and permanent, natural weight loss. Once you have a complete understanding of your needs and cravings you will learn how to adjust your foods to support emotional health and physical well being.
Pay attention to the food you are eating. Look for organic, free range meats and dairy. Avoid processed and refined foods that are full of hydrogenated oils. Cut back on sugar – it’s poison to the body. Eat more vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Get regular exercise, drink plenty of water, and get adequate rest. Watch yourself get physically healthier, have more energy and think more clearly. The loss of weight will be the added bonus! n