Hi, y'all! My lovely friend and registered dietician, Isabel Garza, was kind enough to write a guest blog for us! Isabel is continuing the conversation from episode 3 of The Jamie Ivey Show. If you haven't watched it yet, you should! The link is in the sidebar (: If you'd like to find out more about Isabel, visit her website Woman Wise Nutrition!
Alright, I'm going to let Isabel take it away!
Let’s face it: changing your nutrition is already hard, but do you know what makes it even harder? Going about it the wrong way.
You would think that access to the abundance of nutrition information online would make it simple, but it isn’t. So why doesn’t more information lead to the changes we want?
That’s because making real, sustainable changes to your nutrition is so more than a list of “yes” foods and “no” foods. Your body, your mindset, and your why are just some of the many factors that play a role in both the specific changes you choose to make and how you will go about implementing them.
If you’re tired of being stuck in the vicious cycle of dieting, falling off the wagon, feeling guilty, and trying the whole thing over again, here are 5 keys to start a healthier relationship with food and your body that will lead to real, sustainable changes to your health.
Shift from a weight-loss to a self-care approach.
When you focus on weight, you become dependent on an external metric to determine your health and wellbeing. One of the most powerful mindset shifts that I help my clients make is to shift away from trying to change their weight and shift toward taking care of their bodies.
When you’re making choices from a place of self-care, behaviors like trying to burn off calories through exercise or eating to the point of discomfort no longer align with the way you view your body. This approach encourages behaviors that are rooted in how you want to feel and experience your health rather than from a place of manipulating a number on the scale.
Prioritize root-cause treatment over band-aid solutions.
Here’s the thing: if you just want to lose weight, there are a million and one ways to white-knuckle your way to that goal. Unfortunately, this often results in short-term results and long-term negative consequences.
However, if you want true health and healing that includes a regular appetite, minimal cravings, good sleep, symptom-free periods, a robust metabolism, proper digestion, consistent energy, and a stable mood… well, it's going to take more than a cookie-cutter meal plan.
Root-cause treatment means taking the time to uncover and understand the why behind your food and weight struggles. For example, strong carbohydrate cravings are often an indicator of poor absorption and poor utilization of energy from food, and NOT a reason to forbid yourself of keeping any sweets in your house. That’s why I recommend using comprehensive lab testing and working with a professional who can help you interpret these labs so that you can approach your nutrition with confidence, purpose, and clarity.
Incorporate rhythms and structure in your eating.
One of my favorite experiences is to witness what happens when clients start eating enough. Unfortunately, most diet rules and nutrition advice out there are built on eating less, ignoring hunger, or compensating for eating “too much” by under-eating later. However, these behaviors do not come without repercussions. In fact, if you’ve ever tried “saving up” for your Thanksgiving dinner, you have probably experienced how delayed hunger only comes back with vengeance.
Eating regularly and eating enough can do wonders for your appetite. If you find yourself constantly famished the moment you get home from work leading to a snackfest in the pantry, I encourage you to try eating a snack between lunch and dinner or increasing the size of your breakfast. You may not have a self-control problem. Your body is probably just communicating its need for fuel.
Be patient and keep an open mind.
Seems simple, right? But we can easily slip into challenging ourselves with ultimatums, even if subconsciously, as we approach a healthier relationship with food and our bodies. Maybe you think, “I want to stop obsessing over food but also require that my weight does not change.” This ultimatum can leave you stuck and unable to move forward, especially if the need to control your weight led to the food obsession in the first place.
Or if you’ve always believed that carbohydrates are the most unhealthy thing you can consume, it may feel counterintuitive for us to start integrating specific carbohydrates that are actually supportive of your metabolism.
At the end of the day, if what you’ve been doing hasn’t worked so far, we probably need to try something different. So be patient and gracious towards yourself as you take the time and energy to learn about your body, develop new skills, and create autonomy in your health.
Ask for help.
If you’ve been struggling alone for a long time, ask yourself: what’s holding you back from getting the help you need? What do you believe about your struggle with food and your body? Would you say the same things to yourself as you would to a friend who wants to seek help?
There’s no shame in getting the support you need to ultimately live a life of freedom— freedom from constant ruminating thoughts about food and your body, freedom from debilitating symptoms of fatigue, mood swings, and cravings, and freedom from the overwhelm and confusion you’ve been swimming in for far too long. You don’t have to do it alone, and seeking support from both a professional and from your community can help you get to where you want to be.
All in all, creating a healthy relationship with food and your body means courageously abandoning an all-or-nothing approach to your health, and giving yourself the permission to stop trying different versions of the same thing over and over again. Because it's less about what you have to lose, and so much more about what you have to gain.