I’m about to drop some knowledge that shouldn’t surprise you.
There are a lot of different kinds of diets available.
Diets for weight loss. Diets for diabetes. Plant-based diets. You get the picture.
Here is a list of some diets that may look familiar. You may have even tried one or five of them at some point in your life.
- Flexitarian Diet
- Vegan Diet
- Vegetarian Diet
- Atkins Diet
- Keto Diet
- Mediterranean Diet
- DASH Diet
- The Blood Type Diet
- Paleo Diet
- Raw Food Diet
- Gluten-Free Diet
As anyone who has attempted to follow a new diet plan knows, the learning curve can be steep. Visiting the grocery store can be frustrating, and dare I say, emotional as you learn what foods you can and can no longer put into your cart.
Your kitchen often requires a re-org of such monumental proportions that it takes several attempts to rid your cupboards of any offending food items. Or they get ‘disappeared’ into your family member’s shelves.
What do most people focus on when they start a diet?
What they can’t have.
All Diets Deprive You Of Something
Instead of focusing on all the wonderful foods you can eat and enjoy when you start a new diet, you focus on what you can’t have.
The one thing all diets have in common is that they impose restrictions on how you eat – types of food (i.e., no dairy, no meat, no sugar, etc.), the quantity, or otherwise.
Maybe being on your new diet means you can’t have your grandmother’s pie at Thanksgiving because it’s made with gluten. Or it means having your morning coffee, but without the use of artificial sweeteners.
The feelings of deprivation can be overwhelming. Anxiety-inducing. Unpleasant to the nth degree.
Decide To Stop Dieting
Here’s something I know you’ve heard before. The best decision you can make when it comes to dieting is to decide not to diet.
What does that mean?
It means choosing a way of eating that you’ll keep for a lifetime, not for the next 3 months or until you drop those last 10 pounds.
The best part about not dieting is that you can eat a variety of foods. That list of banned foods goes down to zero. ZERO.
Suddenly that donut at the office on Friday – you know the one that is calling your name – is something to be enjoyed, not feared. Ordering bacon on your cheeseburger no longer comes with a side of guilt for breaking a rule.
Okay, I hear you thinking, “but not everyone is on a fad diet to lose weight.”
You, my friend, would be absolutely right.
Medically Necessary Diets
If you’ve ever been on a diet trying to lose a few pounds and anguished over not being able to have dessert or another slice of pizza, I feel for you. Really, I do.
As I mentioned before, diet deprivation and the psychological mayhem it brings along with it is a real thing.
Now imagine if one of your top 5 things in all the world was something that you could never have again. Hypothetically, let’s say it was chocolate. Your doctor, and the doctor you went to for a second opinion, told you that chocolate was slowly killing you. You can no longer have chocolate.
The gluten-free diet is a good example of a medically necessary diet for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Instead of chocolate being deadly, it’s anything containing gluten. Think ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. Now imagine you can’t have that again. Ever. Sucks, right?
Talk about entering an emotional and psychological tornado. Your world can feel like its been flipped upside down.
Making Peace With Your Food
How can you succeed in this new, healthier lifestyle that you’ve chosen?
Here are 3 tips from gluten-free expert and nutrition coach Edie Hoppin.
#1 Focus your attention on the new and delicious food options that you can eat
Deprivation sucks. But Edie says that “when you think in terms of ‘I can eat the whole world!’ you’ll have a better chance of discovering new foods that you love.”
#2 Make a list of all the foods you can eat that are available in your grocery store
Or do it the lazy way, like I did. I walked into Trader Joe’s and one of the associates on the floor saw my confusion as I stared at the ingredients on a bottle of salad dressing. When I asked if they had a list of the gluten free items in the store she happily printed me out a list. It was eight pages long!
Not every grocery store will be as prepared as the Trader Joe’s I walked into, but it’s worth checking online or calling the store to see if such a resource exists. It’ll save you time and frustration if you can scour a list of food items and check off or highlight what you want to buy and then find them in the store.
The alternative is getting very familiar with reading ingredients labels, reviewing all your regular food and snacking choices and weeding them out one by one. But that takes a lot more time and effort at the start and sometimes you just want a bagel not a homework assignment before you can make your breakfast.
#3 Find a coach or a support group
You’re going to have questions. Turn to people who have answers.
Support groups are great places to mourn the food you miss, but also an excellent way to discover great restaurants that cater to your dietary needs.
Better yet, hire a coach and make that first shopping experience in the grocery store less of a terror and time-suck.
Here’s the bottom line. Reject the diet mentality.
If you don’t have a medically necessary reason to shut off eating certain foods – that’s awesome! You can still follow the three tips above and find greater peace with your food choices. For anyone struggling to keep to their doctor recommended diet, following Edie’s advice can help you both physically and mentally as you enter your brave new world of healthier eating.