Episode 62 – Maintaining A Good Relationship With Food When Dieting

Key Topics Covered

Dieting is a contact sport, whilst not inherently bad, it does come with risks.  

For those who are already dealing with or have a history of disordered eating or a poor relationship with food, it is like playing a contact sport with an underlying injury. In that it is probably more risky for those people.  

So to get us started my first tip would be: if you don’t already have a decent relationship with food, dieting may not be right for you at this time and you may want to address this first  

But for those who have a decent relationship with food and do want to diet, here are some other tips to safeguard your relationship with food.  

15 strategies to maintain a good relationship with food

  1. No strict rules (maybe “guidelines” or things you do more/less frequently though) 
    • I.e. “Have no added sugar ever”
    • Maybe change to “having a decent amount of protein with most meals” or “having a serve of veg with each meal”
    • Whilst also being open to not doing this and knowing that that’s okay.
  2. Do not try to do more aggressive approaches for extended periods of time 
    • If you are doing that, only do it for a short period of time and have an exit strategy ready.
  3. Do not try to diet indefinitely in general 
    • “Fat Loss is a Phase, not a lifestyle”
    • When you’re in a deficit you have to think about food a little differently, therefore it’s useful to know that that’s for a short period of time. Then you can get back to having more food freedom.
  4. Avoid viewing foods as good vs bad (conducive to your goals, sliding scale) 
    • There are foods that will be more of less conducive to your goals.
    • But seeing foods as “good” and “bad” will warp your perception of any dietiting approach – felxability is really important.
    • Try to have mostly whole foods, but in saying that – nothings off the table
  5. Don’t count calories forever
    •  It can be benenficial. But, it shouldn’t be done forever
    • Question – “Do you know many people who track calories year round and have a good relationship with food?”
    • If it makes you anxious when not tracking calories, that usually a good sign to stop tracking calories
    • You don’t need to know how many calories in your food all the time
  6. Pay some level of attention to your hunger and fullness cues 
    • If you want to eat more intuitively, that will be based on your hunger and fullness cues.
    • So if you completely ignore and detach from them when dieting, it’s going to be difficult to get more in touch with them.
    • ie. When you’re really hungry – just have something to eat.
    • It could be useful to know that sliding scale and what a realist amount of hunger is
  7. Don’t strive for perfection – you need to do enough consistently to keep moving towards your goals. But you don’t need perfection.
    • If you’re doing enough to achieve progress, then you don’t have a feeling of failure everytime you’re not “perfect”. 
  1. Play around with meal timings to find what works best for you e.g. if you consistently accidentally overeat at a certain time, try just intentionally adding more food there, or before there, to see what happens. 
    • You may benefit for trialling meal timing
  2. Still try to enjoy food 
    • A lot of social and cultural celebrations are based around food – it’s an important part of life.
    • Imagine yourself as a child, you’d eat ice-cream and think “this tastes nice”
    • The goal isn’t to not enjoy food. You can still enjoy food. Then move on.
  3. Relaxed meals/flexibility instead of cheat meals and cheat days  
    • The wording doesn’t mean a lot for some people, but for others it can be pivitol with maintaining a good relationship with food.
    • Incorporate “date night” or “one doughnut” every so often, to feel like you can relax for a little bit.
  4. Don’t avoid all social situations where food is present – social eating can be really important especially amongst certain cultures  
    • It adds to enjoyment of life. Avoiding this can make them feel excluded.
  5. Work with a professional  
    • Even if you know what it takes to diet successfully. It can be useful to have someone hold them accountable and ensure that they’re considering their relationship with food.
    • “You should treat yourself how you’d treat someone else”
  6. If dieting becomes a source of anxiety in your life, stop  
    • Feel free to take breaks or plan diet breaks along your journey.
    • Have those points where you have food freedome.
  7. Optional: Don’t be tied to an arbitrary approach e.g. there is no reason somebody who intermittent fasts cannot have a day where they don’t fast occasionally. Same as somebody on a lower carb approach can have a higher carb day occasionally. 

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