Losing weight has nothing to do with the foods you put in your body and everything to do with the foods you put in your body. Let me explain.
I grew up in the diet culture.
I remember my stepmom going on a rice diet. She literally ate rice every single meal. And that was it. Rice with milk and a bit of sugar for breakfast. Plain rice for lunch. and Rice stir-fried with some egg for dinner. At the time I was young and I didn’t understand why she would eat rice all meals, every meal but I do remember thinking it was weird.
Then came Atkins and the low carb craze. All of a sudden rice was a forbidden food. I remember she started eating lots of eggs and meat and vegetables. I remember she would keep all kinds of junk food around for us and feed us bread and baked goods from a box. I remember watching her take tiny little bites and then shaking her head and saying, “No, no. I shouldn’t be doing this. Look at me, I’m ruining my diet.”
I remember thinking “what does she mean? ruining her diet? Why is she eating it if she doesn’t want to?”
Eventually, it clicked for me. “Ooooh!” I thought. “Those foods make you fat and being fat is bad.”
I had always been thin and athletic so I never worried about what I ate or whether it would make me fat or not. But a seed had been planted.
Being fat is Bad. If I get fat, I’m bad.
It wasn’t until junior year of college that this seed grew into a full-blown tree for me. I had my first serious boyfriend and I was in love. All of a sudden, my self-worth became about how I looked. I started worrying about gaining weight and started restricting, over-exercising, and I fell deep down the rabbit hole.
The more I restricted, the more I binged. The more I binged, the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself, the more I turned to drastic and dangerous measures to stay thin and the less in control of myself I felt.
I tried everything to stop sabotaging myself. “I’m going to be good next time.” “I’m going to start over tomorrow.” “This is the last time I’m going to eat this cookie, cake, chip, pizza (insert terrible for you food here).”
I thought that my problem was my will power.
If I could just say yes to the right foods and say no to the wrong foods 100% of the time then my problem would be solved. All I had to do was learn more about nutrition and find out what was “healthy” so I could just eat those foods. Problem was, the more I learned about health and nutrition the more foods I thought I had to cut out of my diet. I became obsessed with getting my diet right and I always ended up failing and eating something that was on the “no-no” list.
It took me years to figure out that my problem wasn’t willpower.
In fact, having will power is a myth. No one has willpower. Some people are better at torturing themselves than others but trust me if there is chocolate cake in front of us, we are all going to want to eat that cake. We are all going to have a hard time not eating that cake. And the more times you have cake in front of you and the more times you say no, the harder it gets and the bigger chance you have of eventually giving in and eating that chocolate cake.
Willpower has nothing on chocolate cake.
My problem was that I was so focused on changing my actions. I thought my problem was my food choices. Once I realized that it was my thought patterns that were sabotaging me and keeping me stuck not my food choices, the real healing began.
You see, labeling food good and bad is ridiculous!
And basing my self-worth on whether I ate something good or bad is even more ridiculous. If I eat something good I am good. If I eat something bad I am bad. How stupid is that? But that was how I thought for so so long.
Do you know what changed? How I finally overcame years of dieting, bingeing, restricting, and emotional eating?
I changed my thoughts and challenged my belief.
I decided to find out for myself if being fat made me a bad person. I stopped calorie counting, I stopped restricting, and I stopped labeling food as bad or good and I started eating real food. Food grown from the ground. Full in its whole form full of vitamins, minerals, and fibers. I ate a lot of it. I ate every time I wanted too. I ate first thing in the morning. I ate in between meals. I never skipped a meal. I ate late at night. I stopped denying myself treats and started allowing myself to eat the food at parties.
I basically stopped worrying so much of what would happen if I got fat. I was kind of counting on it. I was ready to allow myself to get fat and find out once and for all if that would make me a bad person.
I still let those fears in sometimes and I still binged but I never restricted. I never dieted, and I every time those worries about being fat came up I would push them aside and remind myself that I am good enough just the way I am.
And you know what happened? I didn’t gain weight.
I was allowing myself to eat things I never allowed myself to eat before and I wasn’t gaining weight. How is that possible?
I was eating constantly, all the time and I wasn’t gaining weight. How is that possible?
To be honest, I’m not totally sure but I think it is because of two things:
- Allowing myself to eat whenever I wanted helped me to realize I wasn’t hungry most of the time and I started listening to my body more and actually eating less.
- Most of the time (probably 80%) I ate a whole foods plant-based diet full of fruits, veggies, grains, and beans. These foods are full of fiber so I would always get full before consuming too many calories.
It’s been 10 years and I’ve had four babies since the last time I went on a diet or restricted my calories. My body looks a bit different (having babies does that to you) but my weight is the same.
I still get those fears of getting fat sometimes and I still find myself restricting my calories or bingeing from time to time. But all I have to do is remember:
I’m okay just the way I am and being fat does not make me a bad person.
Once I do that, I’m able to get back to a place of calmness and joy and back to my whole foods plant-based diet because loving myself means feeding myself good food.
I hope this inspires you to love yourself and eat more plant-based foods.