Monday morning after Easter weekend. Many of us indulged in a bit of extra food over the weekend — potentially a lot of extra food depending on how the holiday went! So what now? Our society breeds diet mentalities and ‘all or nothing’ thinking. If you add the two together, dieting mentality + all or nothing thinking = restriction followed by a swing into over eating/binging. After a weekend of social eating (eating more than normal because of celebration and being with friends/family) many people grab onto the pendulum and swing to the other side. No breakfast. Light lunch. Salad for supper. Work out like crazy. Beat yourself up for what you ate over the weekend and/or how little you did physically. Aren’t you tired of that?? Isn’t it getting a little old to dump shame and guilt on yourself, just because you ate like everyone else at the celebration?!
So what’s a girl/guy to do? Avoid the celebrations?? No! Absolutely not. Social eating and over-eating at Holiday dinners is all part of normal eating. It’s actually not the problem! The problem is what you do the rest of the time — the 357+ days in between Holiday dinners. Let’s clear something up first. Diets don’t work. Read that again because you probably just glossed over it and got a bleary-eyed look on your face. Why is it that we don’t believe this well-substantiated truth that has been firmly backed up by evidence and science? Diets do NOT work. In fact, at the root of virtually every single eating disorder is a diet. The diet mentality is destructive, dangerous and deeply flawed (and unfortunately a multi-billion dollar industry). Let me just say it one more time. Diets do not work and that doesn’t mean we have no hope and are destined to become morbidly obese.
Stick with me. Please. The correction IS moderation. Rather than swinging from one extreme to the other think about plumb-lining/re-setting at the middle with moderation. If you swing into some over-eating, simply return to the centre at your next meal. Remember those swinging metal ball sets that people used to have on their desks? You would swing one of the metal balls and they would hit the next metal ball and so on? Eventually the metal balls would ‘plumb-line’ and end up back at centre; that is what moderation does! Your body doesn’t want to pack on a bunch of excess weight. It actually wants to plumb-line and moderate right around the middle of your weight range — moving roughly 2-2.5 pounds either way depending on factors like monthly cycle, fluid retention, etc. After eating a bit too much, people with all or nothing thinking tend to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and eat a lot more food. This tends to trigger ‘last supper’ thinking — “I’ll eat a bunch tonight because I’ve already ‘blown it’ and I’ll start my diet tomorrow!” This is reinforced by a dieting mentality and leads to under-fuelling the body or over-exercising it, which then makes a person overly-hungry and triggers the next all or nothing cycle.
The key to breaking the cycle is to correct with moderation at the next meal — not tomorrow or Monday morning, but the next meal. This applies to both moderate eating and moderate exercise/activity. (Excessive exercise is also damaging but I’ll leave that for another post!) Break the all or nothing thinking by allowing yourself to have some. Have some. Stop when you’re full. Eat when you’re hungry. And if/when you blow it, correct it by getting back on track with moderation. Get off the pendulum! Swinging is exhausting and only reinforces a dieting mentality. There is freedom and health in the balance of moderation. Moderate eating. Moderate activity.