Do you eat clean? Are you Paleo? Do you 21DSD? Stop the insanity!

As a fat loss coach, a woman, and an observer, there are a few questions I hear, see, and read every day.  And, sadly, these questions lead to binge eating, rebound weight-gain, and a distorted viewpoint of what a healthy or fat loss diet should entail.  Do you eat clean?  Are you Paleo?  Do you 21DSD?  I’m on a quest to stop the insanity!

Before you get fired up and start defending your current eating trend, simmer down.  I’m not going to be picking these to pieces (that would require a short book), nor am I going to be telling you what you should eat instead.  The major beef I have with any “diet” has to do with language and restrictions and the damage they can do to our way of thinking.  And the way we think impacts the way we behave around food.

Let’s take a quick peek at a few of the current trends:

Eating clean.  What does this mean exactly?  If you are eating your tupperware full of “clean” food, does that mean the salad I bought at Panera is dirty?  When I was in the process of losing my 70 pounds, I used the word “clean” all the time when referencing how I was eating.  The trouble with that occurred when I would eat something that I didn’t consider to be clean.  My brain went down the path of assuming what isn’t clean is bad.  Enter guilt.  It didn’t matter if I ate “clean” 90% of the time because the other 10% messed with my head.  Every day.  For those who are touting eating clean, I’d like to see you call your other foods dirty for a change.  For example, “I was going to eat my clean foods today, but I decided on a dirty sub and a dirty milkshake instead.”  It doesn’t feel as good, right?

Paleo.  For those of you who don’t know, Paleo is huge right now.  I’m not going to debate the health benefits of this plan, and I’m not going to break it down either.  (Feel free to hit up Google to answer your Paleo questions.)  But the bottom line is that foods are off limits to follow the Paleo lifestyle.  In other words, you can’t call yourself Paleo if you consume certain foods…at all.  This can make it tough to navigate modern life.  And it locks us into the notion of only eating one way.  There’s no flexibility.  It’s all rules and no play.

21DSD.  I’m staying far away from the soap box on this one.  Basically, the goal is to detox your body of all sugar so you can go on and live a happy life once you are done.  While sugar does have it’s addictive qualities, there are also mental attachments that we have to sugar-laden foods.  Avoiding them for 21 days doesn’t correct it.  And the notion of not eating blueberries because they have too much sugar is extreme.  I’m pretty sure you could replace a pound of cookies with a pound of blueberries in someone’s daily consumption and see remarkable change, not only in how they feel but also how their body functions.

Over the decades, there have been other fad food trends.  Scarsdale, detox soup, Atkins, are just a few that pop to mind.  If you are currently following one of the trendy eating plans and it’s working for you, then stick with it.  Everyone has their own path in terms of eating and lifestyle.  If what you are doing feels good on your body, there’s no reason to change!

If you are in between plans, diets, etc., here are a few things to watch out for:

Absolutes:  If the plan you are considering has absolutes, be wary.  For example, if you are to never eat this or always eat that, chances are it will get old after a while, or you just want to rebel against the rules.  I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve coached who have recently come off of one of the above plans.  The restrictions made it even harder to stay the course, which learned to a binge and a gain of rebound weight.

Duration:  When is the plan “over?”  If you are looking to follow something for a short window of time (12 weeks or less), be alert to what will happen with it’s done.  Are you given step-down information?  How can you make it work in your every day life beyond that time frame?  Are you looking to make a lifestyle change?   How will this plan support that?

Culture:  What is the culture surrounding this plan?  Is it elitist?  Is shame-inducing when you eat something that’s not allowed?  Are there a ton of different books and programs and recipe books you need to buy just to follow it?  What kind of support do you get while making the change and then beyond?

Relationship:  To simply tell us to eat or not to eat something isn’t enough.  If your plan isn’t guiding you HOW and WHY to make different choices and how to foster a healthy relationship with food, it’s likely that these new patterns won’t last.  Sorry, but how we relate to food dictates what we put in our mouths, and it has nothing to do with clean, Paleo or 21DSD.

If you are currently following one of these trends or would like to, here are some tips to make it work to your advantage:

Moral Compass:  Find your “why” behind following the plan.  Maybe eating clean feels really good to your body.  Perhaps the Paleo lifestyle resonates with your beliefs of how man has changed or not changed over the years.  And the 21DSD just might give you a peek into how good your body can feel when it has less processed junk in it.  To be successful with any of these, you need to have a moral attachment greater than just for the sake of completing it or knocking off a few pounds.  The plan needs to align with what you believe to be true as well.  Vegans are a prime example of this, as most of them feel strongly against eating anything that comes from animals.

Flexibility:  How can you find a way to work this plan into your daily life?  When you are in a situation where you can’t control your food choices, what will you do?  The best of any kind of meal plan can be bent to work anywhere.  The faster you can adapt the plan to your life and preferences, the easier it will be to continue on.

Filter:  Maybe the best thing to do is to not follow the rules 100%.  Take what feels best on your body and leave the rest behind.  While many plans are built upon rules, what good are they if they are tough to follow?  Give everything a try and run it through the filter known as YOUR body.  No one knows how you feel except for you.  Listen to the cues of your energy level, your cravings, and how hungry you are.  If those three key areas are hard to manage, then this plan or some of the components may not be right for you.

Now it’s time to take some action:  go HERE and grab the free mini course, Eat Like You Love Yourself.

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