I started dieting when I was in high school, even though I was not overweight at the time. I just thought I was fat, because all the girls around me were talking about how important it was to be skinny.
I was never particularly good at dieting, esoecially when I did pack on the pounds later, but I kept forcing the issue anyway, and hated every minute of it. Except the one time I was on that diet, that let me have frozen fat-free chocolate yogurt with granola for lunch. I actually liked that one. But I had to give it up when I realized that it didn’t really work.
So, I kept on keepin’ on, struggling with my weight, into my 20s and early 30s. I read the diet books, bought the diet foods (Slimfast and Snackwells, anyone?), kept the journals, and promised myself I would stick to the plan. But, no matter how hard I tried, I always felt like one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, trying to fit my foot into a shoe molded perfectly for someone else. What seemed promising at first, always wound up disappointing me in the end.
As a result, I struggled with my weight for years, and I felt bad about myself a lot. Especially when I had to go buy new clothes, because I could no longer zip my skirts.
This cycle went on for two decades. Diet. Lose. Gain. Diet. Lose. Gain. I kept reinventing the wheel and calling it something different, every time. It never worked.
Until, one day, one of my yoga instructors shared what I still think is the most brilliant perspective about food I have ever heard:
“At some point, you have to ask yourself: is what I am eating really food?”
It changed the way I thought about grocery shopping, meal-planning, and eating out, forever. I never dieted again.
Instead, I changed what I believed about food. I decided that food is fuel for my body, and instead of eating to lose weight, I should eat to become the best version of myself that I could possibly be. How’s that for a novel idea?
I became a truth seeker, insistent on understanding exactly what I was putting in my body. I read labels, scoured the internet for nutrition facts, and started eating at home more often, so I could know exactly what was in my food.
The more I focused my attention on fueling my body, the better I felt. I finally accepted what I had known all along, but had been too stubborn to admit: everything I eat effects me either positively or negatively. And the more I moved toward nourishing myself, the more I wanted more of the same.
This is how I became passionate about the importance of real food, and broke the cycle of dieting for good. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life, to stop trying to eat like everyone else, and decide for myself what works best for me.
The say the truth will set you free, and never is this more applicable, than when we are trying to lose weight. The truth is that diets don’t work, and you should never, ever diet again.
Eat real food, instead. All day, every day. Exercise every day. And trust the struggle. The more we distance ourselves from processed foods that dull our taste buds, and nourish our bodies with real foods and exercise, the more we crave real foods and movement, the more inspired we are to eat from the earth, and the better we feel and look.
Learn more about real food in this insightful post at The Atlantic, and pick up a copy of “Eat To Live” by Joel Fuhrman, MD.
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