BY AOIFE MORRISON
EATING is not complicated, it’s just not always easy.
The number one aspect of undoing diet mentality that makes me so frustrated is how complicated food has become. Because believe it or not, food is actually the least complicated part of the whole equation.
Week after week, I work with women who have become so focused on aspects of food that, in the greater scheme, mean absolutely nothing. For the average person, whether or not you have full-fat or skimmed milk should come down to which you prefer, and how they make you feel. At the end of the day its impact on your overall health and body is pretty minimal.
Does this outlook change if you are drinking multiple litres a day? Of course! But that is not complicated, just common sense.
If all you have is some in your tea, or over your Weetabix in the morning, how big a change do you really think skimmed will have over full-fat?
Look, we all learned the basics of nutrition growing up, whether in school or at home. And these have not changed. The science supports this – it is not simply an opinion of mine.
So how did it all get so complicated? Money!
Restrict a food group, slap an eye-catching label to it like ‘lose two stone in 14 days,’ or ‘ditch this food to get abs’ and you have a money-making machine. Science be damned. And the scariest part is they cannot back up the promise of these results. Because nobody can. There are too many variables to factor in such as: height, weight, gender, lifestyle, medical conditions, age, physical capability etc.
There is no diet or lifestyle plan that will provide the same results for everyone. But it is sold in such a way that you believe everyone will succeed. If you just work hard enough, just have enough willpower or self-control you will look like the fitness model used in advertising.
So, you try. And you fail. And you feel like utter rubbish. You question what is wrong with you? Why does your body and brain continue to let you down time and again? I mean all you had to do was give up carbs, or sugar, or gluten, or fat, or fresh air. How hard is it – they gave you the answer on a plate!
You decide this just wasn’t the ‘right one for you’ and pick another. Time and time again. Blink and a decade has passed and you are in the same place as you were on day one. And all you have to show for it is wasted money, time, a hatred of your body and feelings of total and utter defeat.
Breaking down those rules you now live by, taking a step back and listening to your body rather than fighting it at every turn, that is the bit that isn’t easy.
Finally understanding that your body is not trying to betray you at every turn takes time. Taking a step back from food rules and recognising that the diet, and not your body or mind, have always been the problem can be difficult to accept.
Will change happen overnight? I am afraid not. And I know that is the main draw of diets – the speed they promise you will achieve your dream body or weight. And facing the reality that real change, and more importantly lasting change, takes time and patience can be frustrating.
But consider this: in 12 months you have the option to have done a few more rounds of the mouse wheel, always ending up in the same spot. Or take that time to invest in yourself. To finally feel confident with food and your body. And to make slow and steady changes that work for you and your life, changes that last a lifetime.
• For support and guidance from a qualified nutritionist contact Aoife on 087 448 8540, or [email protected]. Or check out Mums for Nutrition on Instagram.