Why do I say that moderation is the best way to eat, the best way to lose excess fat?
It might seem intuitively wrong to say that, right? Because we all know that restrictive diets will cause you to lose weight. I know someone right now that has lost 26 pounds on his own prescription of a vegan diet with zero to little protein.
Funny enough, though, I have never met a person that can restrictively eat and remove entire food groups from their diets for years on end. And the thing is? Most of us don’t want to be at a healthy weight for a little while. We want to be at a healthy weight for a lifetime.
Moderation is honestly the only thing we as humans will actually do for a lifetime.
Because you will slip-up on that plan. You will eat more carbs than your low carb plan “allows” you to eat. My friend above will likely be noshing on steak and pizza before April Fools Day.
But besides dealing with the physical act of what binging can do to you, the problem becomes: how do you handle it when you go off of the “program”?
For most people what happens is that they enter a cycle of self-loathing. It begins with “I was so bad.” Then a shame cycle turns into the What-The-Hell Effect. Or, as I like to call it, the “I might as well finish the whole box…” effect.
Here’s how a well-adjusted eater handles that instead:
*Understands that restriction breeds cravings. We want what we can’t have.
*Practices self-compassion when they eat something less than healthy or overeats. They know this one food, this one meal, this one slip-up doesn’t mean anything about who they are as a person.
*Understands that a restrictive diet is merely an experiment and that there is no holy grail program of healthy eating (trust me, I would have found it, if there was!).
*Understands that what you eat doesn’t have any moral bearing on who you are a human being. You’re not bad for eating a bowl of ice cream. You aren’t awful because you perceive yourself to have less will-power
Now, if you feel like you’ve tried moderation and it didn’t work, there are reasons for that too. Moderation takes work to develop how that looks for you: for example, you still can’t overeat, just because you’re not following a strict plan! Really, it all comes down to laying down a base of good habits. Habits are the key because they become a part of “I don’t have think about this, I just do it” spot in our brain. It takes less effort to make healthy choices, when it’s simply a part of what you do every day. The more we have to fret over a choice, the more likely we are to choose the one we are most familiar and comfortable with.
For example, I don’t have to think about washing my hair so much — I can just do it because I’ve done it thousands of times before. This is how fit and healthy people are about all the aspects of their fitness and eating lives. Trust me. If you’ve ever wondered how some people have all the luck and being fit just comes so easy to them? Well, firstly, you are right: it does come easier to them. But it’s not because they are better than you, but because they’ve made it a habit.
The good news is that literally anyone can re-frame things in their life to make healthier choices the go-to, the obvious, the more comfortable choice. It won’t happen overnight, but trust me, it will happen. And I say this as someone that thought plain yogurt was “weird” 10 years ago to not being able to leave Whole Foods without a pint of the stuff these days– I can safely say that your tastes, your preferences? They aren’t as set in stone as you might think. You’re malleable. It might take you hundreds of baby steps, with 50 steps back every month…but it will happen!