Although I’m anti-diet, as you know, and am disinclined to follow health gurus, an article by Dr. Mehmet Oz in TIME MAGAZINE (9/12/11), The Oz Diet, highlights a sensible approach to eating. Even though he calls it a “diet,” he doesn’t focus on restriction. In fact, what he talks about sounds suspiciously like “normal,” healthy eating to me.
To review terms, “normal” eating follows the rules for hunger, food preference, conscious eating, and satiation. Healthy eating involves choosing foods because they are nutritious and generally avoiding those that aren’t or are harmful. I recommend that disregulated eaters engage in successful “normal” eating for many months—at least three to six—before focusing on making healthier food choices because a push in a healthy direction may feel like dieting or restriction, sparking rebellion or rebound eating.
Returning to Dr. Oz, his sensible assertion is to ingest sufficient and proper nutrients to be healthy. Although far from a novel idea, disregulated eaters rarely consider that the purpose of food is to maintain health, prevent disease, and promote longevity. How do you think about food? What does it means to you—comfort, distraction, passion, relief, pleasure? Food may be all these things occasionally, but Oz reminds us that its evolutionary function is to keep us alive and thriving. Food is meant to feed our cells.
To foster the belief that food is there to make you feel good physically and mentally, not emotionally, picture nutrients going directly into your bloodstream and building and repairing cells. Think of eating as going to the pump and fueling up. Remind yourself that the major purpose of eating is nourishment, and don’t let yourself get side-tracked into thinking otherwise. Think, “Food is for fuel, food is for health, food is nutrients.” Your reaction to this statement will dictate your attitude toward food and eating. Does it upset or frighten you (Oh, no, it’s not for comfort and distraction!)? Or does it create hope that if you focus on eating for nourishment, you’ll remain on track?
Devaluing themselves, many disregulated eaters take poor care of their bodies. When you value yourself, you 100% want to feed it well. The two go hand in hand. You don’t feel deprived because you choose not to eat low-nutrient foods on a consistent basis, but are proud to feed yourself high quality nourishment. In fact, you wouldn’t have it any other way! If you want to eat healthfully and are failing, there is a disconnect somewhere in your psyche. Shift your focus to eating to nourish your valuable mind and body. Taking in quality nutrients will make you feel better physically and mentally.