With the new year rapidly approaching, I wanted to compile a list of my top 10 things that I think you should give up in 2013. Take a look and see how many you can cross off your list next year!
I’ve blogged about food guilt in the past, and still feel that this is something worth mentioning as we move into 2013. Many times the guilt associated with food comes from the food policing that I mention below. It creates a cycle of restriction/avoidance of food, overeating, guilt, and restriction again. The only way to break the cycle is to give yourself permission to enjoy foods you love without guilt or shame.
2. Food Policing
Setting rules around food by labeling them as “good” or “bad”, and avoiding foods you love isn’t going to help you in the long-term. The reality is that when you eat foods that you like, you increase your levels of satisfaction and are less likely to overeat them. We’ve all experienced it at one point or another, even as a child — the more someone tells you that you can’t have something, the more you want it! Unless you can do something for the rest of your life, there’s really no point in giving something up for a brief period. Any outcomes that you do see will just go away once you stop holding yourself back. Instead the focus should be on incorporating all foods in moderation and balance and enjoying the foods you eat.
3. Comparing yourself to others
Walking through the grocery store checkout line you can be bombarded with images of models and celebrities who look “perfect”. What you don’t see behind the image is the team of stylists, hair and make-up artists, trainers and airbrushing that made that image appear flawless. Those images are not realistic or achievable for most people, and comparing yourself to those unrealistic images of perfection will only bring you down. Instead, learn to embrace your uniqueness and beauty and let go of those attachments you have about what you “should” look like. What’s important are the habits and choices you make every day — not how you compare to anyone else.
4. Buying in to Food “Myths”
If you read something about avoiding food that should be good for you, listen to your “gut” and ignore the hype. Food myths are a dime a dozen.
One of my favorite examples of this is eggs – a natural, whole food. Many people avoid whole eggs because they think “egg whites only” is better. It’s actually not true. There are good nutrients in the yolks. The yolks are packed with choline, vitamin D and vitamin A. People think eating whole eggs raises their cholesterol, but actually new research suggests that consuming whole eggs, instead of just the whites, may have a positive impact on blood lipids in people with metabolic syndrome. So next time you’re whipping up an omelet, don’t toss those yolks!
5. Weighing yourself frequently
Instead of setting a goal weight for 2013 — set a goal for healthy habits you want to incorporate into your life that can last you forever. There are plenty of thin people who have unhealthy habits, and there are plenty of larger frame people who have very healthy habits.
I encourage you to look at the research and mission for “Health at Every Size”.
Basic Principles of Health At Every Size®
1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include
physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.
4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger,
satiety, appetite, and pleasure.
5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather
than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.
You have to understand exactly what the scale is measuring – the force of gravity pushing on your body and your body pushing back against gravity. But too many people let the scale judge their self worth. Your scale weight doesn’t determine your health, it’s the choices you make and the behaviors you display that determine your health.
I think being aware of your weight is a good thing. Know your trend and compare only to YOUR trend. But you can weigh yourself monthly and have enough data points. Use it as one of factors in looking at your health trend, not THE factor. If you want to look at numbers – count all the positive self-care habits you have been doing. Count the number of days you get good sleep, count the times you DON’T soothe away bad feelings or stress by eating emotionally. Count your time working out, steps, miles, or improvements in strength. The list goes on… By taking your focus off the scale and onto your daily habits you can make much more meaningful and lasting positive changes in your life.
6. Counting calories
One thing you should not count is calories. It is so obsessive and honestly a colossal waste of time. First off, you can eat 1200 calories of complete crap and that’s not good for you. The quality of your food matters too. Second, it’s probably not realistic that a person will continue to count calories for the rest of their life. So why not make it easier on yourself and instead make a balanced plate your goal. I think this is a nice way to provide “broad strokes” to your nutrition and food choices. This is the ideal. Not every meal will look like this. Consider it’s like hitting a “bullseye” or getting a “hole in one”. Look at your plate. 1/4 of your plate should be lean protein (animal or plant based), 1/4 starch (either starchy veggies like potatoes or beans or whole grain foods) and 1/2 your plate colorful, delicious fruits and veggies. Don’t forget to include a source of heart healthy fat with each meal like low fat dairy, nuts, olive oil or avocado.
If you are going to a meal out and you know they post the calorie information, I personally think it is OK to look, but look beyond calories. I have seen salads marketed as healthy with tons of sodium and saturated fat and I’ve seen where the lean sirloin and asparagus was way lower in calories and saturated fat than a fish dish with risotto. So it is OK to look, but don’t just think “low calories” is best. It is not. When I go out, I try to think of the balanced plate and get close or at least think “half plate healthy” so if I want mac-n-cheese, go for it… but can I balance it out with a salad starter instead of jalapeno poppers? That kind of thing. Make choices.
7. Body bashing
It seems like people are often so much harder on themselves than they are on other people. Would you ever tell your niece or daughter or friend that they should criticize their own body? Of course not, but it seems all to common for people to make negative comments about their own bodies. See if you can give yourself 1 compliment each day — it could be anything — that you did a good job packing the kids lunches today, that your new sweater really highlights your eyes, anything! If you do catch yourself body bashing, then immediately interject with something positive so the negative thoughts can be chased away.
8. Going gluten-free for weight loss
This seemed to be a trend that exploded in 2012 so I felt I needed to include it here. The reality is that some people really do need to avoid gluten due to having celiac disease or an allergy to it, people with GI issues that have a problem digesting gluten and people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. These people truly feel better and their medical symptoms disappear when they eliminate gluten from their diet. People that do experience weight loss as a result of going gluten-free likely did so because this meant they replaced processed foods with more whole foods.
9. “Eating like our ancestors”
The paleo diet does encourage eating more wholesome foods and lots of veggies — which I completely support. The part of paleo that I have a problem with is that certain whole foods like potatoes and beans are not allowed. While we all know that diets don’t work, anything that eliminates whole food groups is certainly not the best thing to follow. I’m sure if our ancestors were around today, they would love these foods and would think us crazy for attempting to avoid something so nourishing.
Fruits have natural sweetness but they also have vitamins, minerals and fiber that our bodies need. When used in small amounts other natural sweeteners like pure maple syrup or and honey can add a touch of sweetness to nutritious foods like oatmeal, salad dressings and smoothies. If adding a touch of natural sweetener to an already wholesome, healthy food will get a person to eat it (when they wouldn’t otherwise), then I say go for it! Maple squares can be a great sweet treat and are made with wholesome ingredients like oats, sunflower seeds and almonds.
What other things do you want to give up this year to improve your health and wellness?