DIET. I bet none of you are going to click this post because that is the first word here. Why does “diet” have such a stigma attached to it?
The first definition of “diet” is just the types of foods that a person (or animal) typically eats. The second is a special course of food to which someone restricts their eating to.
I think we tend to think more about the second definition. I know I definitely did. Growing up, I always had poor body image. I specifically remember a moment when I was 13 years old, looking in the mirror, and being upset at the way my skirt hugged my emerging hips. For lunch in high school, I would eat nothing but a small bag of mini-pretzels from the vending machine (they were fat free). I would then starve until dinner time, where I would devour my meal in practically seconds, before slinking off into my room and doing crunches and squats, as if that would make my already thin thighs thinner and abs more prominent. College was worse. I had joined the triathlon club and was working out quite a bit. Still, not only did I attempt to deprive myself the same way I did in high school, but the availability of pretty much anything you could want to eat in the dining facilities plus the daily workouts made me much more susceptible to bingeing at the end of an especially hard day. I ended up eating more calories than I was burning though, noshing on way too much junk food and sweets. I gained weight. I didn’t learn how to truly eat until my junior year of college. I credit this to a couple things: self acceptance, the bulk of my exercise science classes all helping me understand my physiology, and my improving triathlon and half marathon times. That is when my second definition diet turned into the first, I was just eating.
When most people see the word “diet,” things that come to mind might be a lot of salads and plain, unseasoned chicken breast, or some trendy hyper-restrictive eating regiment, or weight loss. This word is almost always associated with weight loss and leading an unfulfilling life. I think it is really hard to get from that second definition of diet to the first unless you are happy with where you’re at, and you start to (yes I’m going to be super cliche here) see food as fuel. You see, you can have whatever diet you want, but if being satisfied with your body composition is your goal, you can change your diet, without going on a diet.
So going back to my junk food habit. I started to realize that after long days on my feet and exercising, I was starving and grumpy (hangry, if you will) by dinner time. I realized that when I ate more wholesome, less processed food, I wasn’t as hungry, and my energy levels were more constant. Most importantly, the stigma of “dieting” has been broken for me. I eat (sorry, getting cliche again here) balanced. I love a salad, but I also love pizza and wine and ice cream. There is hardly ever a moment in the day where I am hangry. If I’m craving something, I go for it, and am able to just stick to the recommended serving size, – its true, I no longer eat an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting! I’m not the rail thin girl I was in high school, but instead I have curves and muscles and I am doing a triathlon next month. You know what else? I am the most comfortable I have ever been in my skin.
So HOW, Juliane, did you break your second definition diet, and gain a first definition diet?
- I learned to cook for fuel. I buy cookbooks. I might cook something new out of them once a month, BUT when I do, I have a new recipe and a new way of cooking something that probably have cooked before, and in a delicious, healthy way. My favorite cookbooks that have taught me how to cook for fuel are:
- I joined a CSA, which introduced me to more produce. We are fortunate here in California, because so much produce is available and in season, and our CSA delivers right to our front door. If you live in California, you can learn about our CSA, Farm Fresh To You by clicking HERE. If not, definitely check and see what is available around you.
- I cut out artificial sweeteners & reduced fat foods. Aspartame is a weird, addictive substance, and anything labeled along the lines of “fat free” just has other weird crap to make whatever you are eating taste the same. Instead, I just go for quality, full fat versions of what I’m looking for, especially things like butter, or if I’m craving something sweet like a soda, or a fancy coffee. I find that I don’t really go after those things much anymore anyway, so its already an indulgence.
- I balance macros. I don’t worry about counting calories or anything, but I do make sure each meal has a protein, a carb, and a fiber source. Following this, a normal day for me (aka what I ate yesterday) looks like this: oatmeal with peanut butter & honey for breakfast, Turkey sandwich and a side salad for lunch, and then jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk, teriyaki glazed salmon, and honey balsamic baked brussels sprouts from our CSA for dinner. We have free snacks at work, so imagine a couple cookies and pieces of fruit thrown in there throughout the day. I am full at every meal, and I have energy to exercise and make it through my work day.
- Sorry if you hate to hear this: I exercise. Exercise keeps my blood sugar in check and my metabolism healthy. Its also a hobby that I enjoy and keeps me busy rather than boredom snacking.
Did you break your diet? Tell me how below!