Diets don't work. They add stress to the body, which raises cortisol levels and actually contributes to weight gain—especially in the belly.
After years of being clinical and personal experience, I've seen the most success when clients commit to a whole food diet that encompasses balance in every sense. Giving up dieting helps your body relax and find freedom with food, and taking care of your lifestyle and stress levels is a huge factor in keeping you as healthy as possible.
This is the UnDiet. Follow these steps to give up dieting for good:
Start by gently cleansing your body.
I believe the easiest way to give your body a little extra TLC after being not so good to it (hello, holiday season) is to gently cleanse your body using whole foods. This by no means equals dieting.
Cleansing is about eliminating things that create false cravings to give your body and your taste buds a chance to reset, so you can create a fresh, healthy relationship with food.
To start with, I always recommend including fresh, whole foods (organic and local where possible) and avoiding anything processed (from a packet or a bottle—essentially, anything with an ingredient list). For five to seven days, avoid the following as much as possible:
- Refined salt
- White flours or flour that isn't whole or freshly milled
- Any additives/preservatives, e.g., MSG, yeast, artificial sweeteners or flavors, etc.
- Vegetable oils or oils used for deep-frying
Instead, focus your energy on filling your plate with delicious and nourishing whole foods! Opt for seasonal vegetables (lots of leafy greens), fresh fruit (low GI options like berries and green apples are best), gluten-free grains (like quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, etc.), nuts and seeds, high-quality organic and locally sourced fish, eggs, and chicken, and use coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil in your cooking.
Boost your cleanse by:
- Waking up to lemon water or a Liver Flush Tonic, which is amazing for detoxifying and cleansing your system.
- Increasing your water intake to 2 to 3 liters per day.
- Replacing your coffee or caffeinated tea with herbal teas. I love dandelion root, nettle, lemongrass, and chamomile.
- Adding lots of brassica vegetables to your diet. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale are all amazing, containing enzymes that assist the liver to detox.
- Using herbs and spices like parsley, coriander, mint, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and garlic to add lots of flavor to a dish, without any extra oils or fats!
Food should be a source of joy and nourishment and not associated with stress, restriction, and dieting.
Incorporating these incredible, healing whole foods into your diet is the first step to looking and feeling amazing!
After the cleanse, rebuild a foundation of love for yourself.
This time it is all about learning to trust your body again and respecting it enough to provide it with the nourishing foods it needs to thrive! Start by doing these things:
- Work on ways to rebuild your relationship with yourself. There are so many great ways to do just that. I personally love yoga to help me reconnect to my body.
- Focus on gratitude. Start to practice daily gratitude. It sounds corny, but keeping a gratitude journal (it can even be a list in your phone) of three things you are grateful for about your body can make all the difference.
- Deal with any anxiety or stress around food. Meditation and mindfulness practices are amazing for this. Try a pre-meal meditation and see how it makes you feel.
- Schedule more "me" time. It helps you reconnect with yourself and indirectly helps heal your relationship with food. Just 10 to 30 minutes to do something for yourself is enough—try a walk in nature, reading a book, or cooking your favorite meal.
- Make a commitment to giving up dieting. Dieting does not work.
If there was a diet that worked, we would all be on it!
The only thing that does work is giving yourself permission to enjoy and love food. Remind yourself that you are worthy of enjoying and loving yourself. You have to let go of a desire to deprive yourself. If you love yourself enough—you will let go. When you rebuild that foundation of self-love you realize you don't deserve to put yourself through deprivation and restriction; your body is too precious for that.
- Learn to indulge with moderation. Do not deprive yourself. have a slice of cake or a few pieces of chocolate and enjoy them with mindfulness and no guilt. This is good for our bodies. Just commit to eating well 80 percent of the time—while allowing yourself indulgences throughout the holiday season. Giving yourself permission to indulge actually makes you want it less!
Going forward, set a few healthy nonnegotiables.
I personally like:
- Yoga two or three times a week
- Walks in nature
- Eight hours of sleep
- Social media detoxes (I switch my phone off by 6 or 7 p.m. every night and try not to look at it on Sundays.)
- Saying no to social arrangements when you are not in the mood!
- Prepping your kitchen with healthy foods to create healthy meals
You can see how easy it is to nourish your body without depriving or restricting yourself. Healthy living is all about balance and being kinder to our bodies.