For many years, I waged a war with my tired and heavy body. I was 60 pounds overweight and convinced that life would be much better if my thighs were smaller, waist was skinnier, or if I hadn't been born big-boned.
I used to force myself to go on restrictive diets and endure uncomfortable exercise regimes in the hope that somehow my dream body would manifest. With each failed diet, my desire to soothe my pain with comfort foods increased, while my self-confidence decreased.
I was stuck in a vicious cycle of self abuse and after many years of suffering through this I just knew that there had to be another way. After my body completely broke down, I made the decision to stop dieting and start healing my body naturally instead. Here are my 4 tried-and-tested "food rules" to help you break the dieting cycle, feel great, and lose weight for good.
1. Eat consciously.
When I was overweight, I realized that I ate most of my meals on the run feeling, either distracted or stressed (if I remembered to eat at all). To heal my body, I intuitively felt the need to eat more consciously by slowing down and paying attention to what I was eating.
Ways that you can start to eat more consciously include:
- Eating your meals while sitting down at a table (using cutlery).
- Giving thanks to the nourishment of your food.
- Chewing slowly.
- Stopping to appreciate the colors, textures and flavors of your food.
2. Eat real foods.
If you want to lose weight naturally (and for good), then try to eat real foods about 80% of the time.
Real foods are whole, natural foods that haven’t been tampered with, just as nature intended. Real foods nourish your body and support its ability to detoxify and self-heal.
Examples of real foods include:
- Fresh fruit
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains such as brown rice, millet, polenta, quinoa
- Legumes: beans, pulses, lentils, nuts and seeds
- Natural flavorings such as sea salt, herbs, and honey
- Plus, if you're not vegetarian: organic meat, chicken, fish and eggs
Lightly processed foods are foods made from real ingredients, which have been naturally processed and packaged within the food chain before you eat them. When you read the ingredients listed on the packaging you recognize them and can easily pronounce them! Examples of lightly processed foods include:
- Tins of lentils
- Beans and chickpeas
- Store-bought hummus and spreads
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Extra virgin coconut oil
- Soy, almond and rice milk
- Organic chocolate
- Organic tea and coffee
Avoid heavily processed or fake foods such as diet foods, refined white bread, commercial sweets and candy, artificial sweeteners, deep fried foods, fast foods, processed foods, and foods high in trans-fats.
3. Substitute ingredients, but don't deprive yourself.
Once you're able to classify your possible food choices into either real foods, lightly processed foods, and fake foods, your focus then shifts to upgrading your food choices wherever possible.
Not all food is created equal. How your food has been cooked, along with how it has been prepared, makes all the difference.
For example, a hamburger (or even veggie burger) can be healing or harmful for your body, depending on how it has been made and the ingredients it has been made with.
In the words of the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg: “Nobody wants to take away your french fries or hamburgers – I love those things too, but if you can make them from healthy ingredients that are less damaging to your health we should do that.”
4. Focus on progress, not perfection.
It has been said that, "a journey of a thousand steps starts by taking the first step." Upgrading your food choices is very much a journey of progress not perfection.
This philosophy is still very much a part of the way I eat today. I find that it gives me all the flexibility I need to enjoy and experiment with food as well as my life.
You may feel that eating 80% real foods from where you are today might not be possible. But if you stay with it and take baby steps toward your goal, substituting fake foods as you go, then you'll certainly be able to create big changes in your body in the long term.
Just know that every step that you take is an opportunity to develop deeper awareness and understanding about yourself.
I hope that this article inspires you to have fun experimenting with these four food rules. To download a free chapter of my book, Losing Weight is a Healing Journey, please click here.
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