When I think about all the time I’ve wasted obsessing about calories, I get really mad. Seriously mad. I would never dare try to count it all up because I know that I could probably complete a full medical degree and likely also travel across a few countries in the same amount of time. And it’s a shame. Instead of filling my head with useful knowledge or sharing moments with friends, I have spent a very sizeable part of my life thinking about my weight (and also feeling bad about it).
Sadly, I know I’m not alone. I’m sure that most women and girls are just like me (probably a lot of men and boys as well). It’s a cumulative loss of time in the world, one that would be better spent on almost anything else. What makes me the angriest though, is that when I think back to when I was consumed with dieting and eating “right,” I realize that I wasn’t all that healthy and I certainly wasn’t happy. I was consuming large amounts of what advertisers were telling me were better for me (100 calorie snack packs come to mind) instead of just eating wholesome foods in proper amounts at proper times.
These days, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve had a child and I can see from another perspective just how amazing the human body is (and how beautiful my own is in terms of capability instead of just size), but my mind is much lighter. I don’t think about calories or fat grams every time something goes in my mouth and I don’t look for the nutritional information straight away – though I should mention here that I strongly believe that being educated about nutritional information is extremely important! However, much like Julia Robert’s character in Eat Pray Love as she enjoys pizza in Napoli (groan, I know! Forget the movie, the point is valid!) I am tired of dragging around guilt from every bite I take.
Aside from pregnancy and birth, I’ve been thinking a lot about what has changed for me. There are two main differences in my life that have greatly attributed to this new perspective on my body and my eating habits. I think these differences could greatly benefit other women (hence this article).
First, I am no longer a “snacker”. I used to be the “6-meal a day” girl and it did work in some ways. But I hardly enjoyed it and I was constantly thinking about food (what will I eat? when did I last eat? what will I eat next?). Now, if you’re a fitness professional and your life revolves around thinking about food, then, fine. But if you’re like the rest of us, you probably have better things to do. Changing from a snacker to a non-snacker is hard (especially when everyone around you seems to be eating all day) but snacking is usually unnecessary and you’re often snacking on bad things. Which takes me to my next point.
Second, when I do snack (or even when I eat regular meals) I consume fewer products that are designed to benefit diets. Notice that I didn’t even call them foods? This is because these are what I consider to be trap products. The trap is this: they are presented as healthy alternatives that make dieting easier but in reality they just make your weight loss journey, just that: a journey. You never reach the destination. They’re the products on T.V. and in magazines that are presented as tiny miracles that will make losing weight just so much fun (and easy!). Well, they don’t.
In my opinion, the companies that make these products don’t really want you to reach your goal. If you did, you’d likely stop consuming their products. Look down at your completely fat free pudding, your processed cup of soup and your microwave diet meal and ask yourself, wouldn’t you just prefer to eat something real? Instead of pacifying your hunger with something conceived by a marketing guru, try asking yourself: what would I really like to eat and what will make me feel full and satisfied until my next meal? I realize that not everyone knows how to build a proper meal plan to maintain their weight the way they’d like and so packaged portion sizes have become handy for that purpose but I think in the long term, women would be better served by learning how to create a balance meal plan for their bodies and lifestyles. If you need help figuring out what foods are truly good for you and what a reasonable meal plan looks like for you, contact your doctor or a local nutritionist. You can also find more information from us under our Healthy Eating tab.