By Linda Mrkic - Accredited Exercise Scientist, M.S.C in Exercise & Wellness
Fact: 90% of diets fail; can you hypothesize some reasons as to why? Typically, diets tend to be based around rules and regulations that are likely to subscribe to the notion that particular foods are "bad" or "forbidden". In addition, certain restrictions tend to apply which we may not wholeheartedly resonate with, and as a result this notion can leave us feeling somewhat defeated and uninspired.
Just as choosing a lifelong partner, our eating style is personal. It reflects us, our cultural, our spirituality, & our beliefs/morals. Instead of promoting a diet, I choose to teach and encourage a process which fosters making ones eating style as a "healthy & happy" experience. Education & being a well-informed consumer on extremist type information (for example like cutting certain food groups out or promotion of non-evidence based recommendations), is KEY and can be empowering and help towards successfully creating a lifelong healthy eating style.
Personally, I do not believe that there is only ONE way to eat. Rather, I am one who chooses to embrace everyone's differences, including spiritual and cultural, helping people create a healthier eating style for themselves and stay true to their moral compass. My main message is to encourage:
Embracing Relapses – Change Your Tune
Yes WE all will "fall off the bandwagon" however instead of looking at it as the bandwagon, how about changing your mindset on this behaviour and approaching it as a long drive on a beautiful journey that has no end point? There will be traffic, storms, rain, hail, yes we have to stop, change, manipulate and learn things, but we don't stop travelling and we never stop learning and adapting, we want to feel, see, breathe, the journey and then continue to flow with it. Sometimes we have accidents, yes they scare us, but we learn from them.
The reality is, there WILL be many ups and downs, this is perfectly normal! Research in Human Behavioural Change (via the Transtheoretical Stages of Change Model) shows that allowing at least a minimum of 6-12 months towards adopting permanent healthy lifestyle changes is imperative. Accept that during this time mistakes will happen and that it’s perfectly OK to do so. You are NOT bad, or a failure, you are learning and changing. Be willing to commit to this amount of time for serious, maintainable, healthy results. Also be willing to ask for HELP & GUIDANCE from a qualified professional.
Cravings and how to approach them
Food cravings can be defined as a strong desire for a specific type of food and can be a learned behaviour in response to a stimuli (emotion, hormones, blood sugar imbalance, time of day) (Cate, 2008). There are many reasons why we crave foods, especially sweet ones. Research shows that our appetite may in fact be hardwired. "Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth," states MD RD Dietician Christine Gerbstadt. In addition, carbohydrates tend to stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Similarly, studies have revealed that high-fat, high-sugar foods actually trigger the same neurological brain activity as substances of abuse. Like cocaine or heroin, foods high in sugar and fat can condition the brain to develop increasing levels of tolerance, cravings, and withdrawals.
What are some healthy ways to overcome cravings?