But What Should I Eat? The Answer Might Surprise You.

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What should I eat to…lose weight?
…improve my health?
…feel better?
…be happier?

People want to know what to eat feel their best physically, mentally, and emotionally. And, they are often surprised by (at least part of) my answer. Their reaction is written all over their faces – they think, “you want me to eat what?”

A key component of my recommendations for health supportive eating is, “to give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want”. This is the piece that, without a doubt, is met with the most skepticism and resistance.

And I get it! For many this recommendation probably sounds totally IMPOSSIBLE, and perhaps even pretty stupid. They say, “yeah, that’s exactly what got me here in the first place.”

How Dieting Sets You Up to Fail

Like many women, the women who walk through the doors at Green Mountain have years, perhaps decades, of dieting experience. They are used to rigid rules controlling their every food decision and the idea of “eating what you want,” is simply not an option.

Diets have taught them that they can’t trust their bodies or themselves to make their own decisions about what to eat.

While the process of dieting is fraught with problems, one major problem is that diets threaten our autonomy. And, when we feel like our autonomy is being threatened we rebel…even if it’s not in our best interest.

By this I mean, if diets have trained you to label foods as “good” and “bad,” or “allowed” and “not allowed,” they are setting the stage for you to act in a way that is counter to your intentions. Why?

  • Because, as the saying goes, forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.
  • As soon as a food becomes off limits it becomes the food we can’t stop thinking about. It leads to feelings of deprivation, even obsession.
  • Eventually, we give in, we eat, and often overeat the food we’ve been restricting…not necessarily because we truly want the food but because we want to reclaim our authority over our food decisions.

To Put This in Perspective…

Here’s a little experiment.

  1. Think of the last time you started a new diet or a new “healthy eating” plan.
  2. Then think about the night before it started.
  3. Ask yourself — What did you do? Did you eat, or even overeat, those foods that were soon to be off-limits?
  4. If yes, did you choose these foods because you really truly wanted them? Or did you choose them because all of the sudden they became scarce?

Likely the answer is the latter. They may not even be your favorite foods! But because their presence in your life is now limited their appeal grows tremendously.

These experiences really only serve to reinforce our belief that we truly cannot trust ourselves or our bodies. That rules are needed and necessary. And, that if we want to lose weight, feel better, and improve health, we must try harder and restrict more.

And the cycle repeats, over and over and over again.

And the outcome of this vicious and persistent cycle? Usually weight gain, worsening health, and psychological turmoil adding to feelings of failure and defeat.

It takes us in the exact opposite direction we are trying to go, but each failed diet is followed by another that promises to get right what the last one got wrong, to finally take you in the direction you’ve been wanting to go.


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What Does Permission Do?

dieting road tripPermission will help to free you from this dieting road trip that keeps you driving in circles, but never gets you to your destination. In other words, permission helps to pave the way to food freedom. In addition, giving yourself permission:

  • Takes the power away from food, allowing you to be your own authority on your decisions about what (and when and how much) to eat.
  • Allows you to determine what will truly be the most satisfying in the current moment – sometimes that will be kale and sometimes that will be cake and both are equally okay.

And, when they become truly allowed, previously forbidden foods will begin to lose their heightened appeal. To the surprise of many, when we really listen, we learn that our bodies honestly do crave balance. And, when all foods are allowed, we are better able to hear that message because it is no longer being drowned out by feelings of deprivation.  

But what if I give myself permission and then I want these foods all of the time?

It’s true, you may find yourself wanting these more frequently at the beginning. That’s because you are trying to convince your brain and your body that you really can eat these foods whenever you want them.

Once you are confident that you can have these foods whenever you want them, that they truly become okay, your desire to eat them so often will decrease.

Other Recommendations for Health-Supportive Eating

I mentioned that giving permission is one component of my recommendations for health supportive eating. Here’s what else I recommend:

  • Aim for balanced meals to meet the body’s nutrient and fuels needs.
  • Tune into the body’s hunger and fullness cues.
  • Practice staying mindful and present during each eating experience.

But will I…lose weight? Improve my health? Feel better? Be happier?

Whether or not your weight changes will really depend on your body and where it is currently as compared to where it naturally wants to be. However, studies show that eating in this way does help to prevent further weight gain (and they also show that diets do not).

Research also shows that eating in this way does support overall physical health and psychological well-being, even in the absence of weight loss.

And, one thing we know for sure – when you spend less time worrying about weight and food, you will open up the space to live the life you may have been putting on hold…to #BeHerNow.

That’s what we practice AND promote at Green Mountain — to stop postponing the activities that would bring us joy until we lose the weight and to engage in those joyful activities today. So do it!

Let us help, because there’s no better time to #BeHerNow. Share the Green Mountain experience with another woman in May 2017 and you’ll each get 10% off your stay AND a free Swedish massage. You’ll be a support to one another for years to come. We’re here to help and to answer your questions, so contact us today to get started on your Green Mountain journey.


4 responses to “But What Should I Eat? The Answer Might Surprise You.”

  1. Shirley Harrison says:

    I just listened to your podcast with Rebecca. You described me more than any one ever has. All the blood drained from my entire body. Thank you so much. I am so excited about this new direction I will be moving in.

    • Kari Anderson says:

      Shirley,
      I am thrilled to hear that you feel like someone finally “gets you”, I’ve been there, and there is hope! Keep surrounding yourself with Green Mountain blogs and newsletters, stay connected.
      Take Care, Kari Anderson

  2. Kay says:

    Would you be willing to share the podcast name/link? I’m trying to fill my commute with positivity and this seems like a great addition!

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About the Author

Dana Notte, MS, RD, CD

Dana has dedicated her career to helping individuals establish a balanced and healthy relationship with food. She has extensive training and experience in coaching for behavior change, mindful eating, and motivational interviewing. Dana has spent years leading group-based behavior change classes, developing and leading interactive workshops for worksite wellness programs, and providing nutrition counseling to individuals struggling with eating, weight, and chronic health conditions. Her practice style is client-centered, compassionate and empowering, with the goal of helping individuals develop the confidence to achieve their health and wellness goals. Dana is the Nutrition Lead at Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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