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Have you ever restricted yourself from food?
This could include avoiding food when you are hungry, avoiding foods you love, counting calories or grams of food obsessively or avoiding social situations because you are worried about what you can or cannot eat.
I have done every single thing on this list.
I am glad I have tried all of these restrictive behaviours, because I never want to live that way again.
For me, the reason why I counted calories, avoided social situations and avoided foods I loved was because I thought this was helping me stay on track. The truth is that these behaviours only caused greater indulgences later.
When I did finally go out with friends I would over-eat and over-drink. When I brought the foods I loved into our home I would eat them all because I had no idea how to act around my favourite foods (crazy? yes, but it’s the truth).
At the time I always thought the answer to my over-indulgences was to get more restrictive!
One day a couple years ago my (now) business coach Jill Coleman wrote ‘deprivation leads to over-indulgence’ in a tweet to her followers. When I read her statement I nearly fell off my chair. Of course it does! This is what I experienced constantly. Eat restrictively (no sauces, no treats, no sugar, no eating out at restaurants) and then when you can’t handle it anymore, eat all the things you just avoided.
Hmmmm, does this sound familiar to you?
My previous mindset was that I just needed to get more strict and be more restrictive in order to see the results I wanted. The truth was that these exact behaviours lead to the same place every single time. Over-indulging and beating myself up for ‘not being able to stay on track’.
Jill said the answer for her was moderation. You know, not eating super clean and feeling that draining deprived feeling.
So I set out to quit my restrictive eating habits. After all, if this whole moderation thing didn’t work out and I gained 10lbs I could always go back to my restriction/indulgence thing. After a solid 2+ years of eating moderately, there is not a chance in hell I would return to my old on/off eating habits. I experience better results physically and can consistently maintain them (shocker – this is what I was trying desperately to achieve in the past). Here are a couple daily practices that help me to eat moderately and avoid my old restrictive eating habits:
This is a huge mindset shift for most people. We are taught that sauces have tons of sugar and are loaded with calories and other harmful ingredients. While this is often true, avoiding salad dressings and sauces had me eating an entire bag of chips when I got to the end of my deprivation rope.
My practice now: Eat veggies as often as possible and have a little sauce or dressing with them. Order a salad with dressing on the side and put enough on your plate to taste great without over-doing it. I have no problem eating a huge salad 5-7 days a week when I use balsamic reduction, olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing. When I am out at a restaurant I order the most veggie-centric meal I can find and do not stress about butter or sauce as I consistently eat a ton of vegetables this way.
On the weekends I usually sleep in longer than I do on the week days but that is the biggest difference in my days. I still get my workouts in, I still eat at least 15 grams of protein at breakfast, I still make a huge salad a part of my day. And I often drink wine, just like I do on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
The benefit of eating the same way no matter the day of the week is that you spend way less energy getting back on the wagon at the start of the week. And isn’t getting back on the wagon just restriction in different clothes? If you don’t fall off the wagon in the first place, you never have to work at getting back on!
Practicing strong habits every day of the week with a little nutritional enjoyment and relief built in will help you to stay on track forever. This has been the most effective way for me to quit my all-or-nothing eating habits.
These are just two of my daily nutritional practices that help me to avoid restriction and stay healthy consistently. Balance is super important to me these days and I have compiled all my mindset and skill-set tips into my biggest project yet – The Balanced Meal Blueprint. Grab your copy of the program HERE to use my step by step strategy for balance and sustainability with healthy, delicious food.
To the quest for balance,