Beyond the Dieting Resolutions

Ready to make some resolutions about your eating that don’t involve weight loss or dieting? Yay! Here are my thoughts on some places to start.

You have probably heard the old adage “Attitude is everything”. And in the case of eating, it is certainly true. Attitude – or the way we approach eating – is what ultimately determines how well-nourished we are.

Renowned dietitian, author and family therapist Ellyn Satter puts it this way. “…there are certain eating attitudes and behaviors that work. Those attitudes and behaviors allow people to eat in a rewarding, matter-of-fact, and responsible way – to enjoy their eating and make it a priority, but still let it keep its place as only one of life’s great pleasures.”

In my work, I have found that she is right on the mark. There is a core set of attitudes and behaviors that need to be present to form the foundation of our healthful eating practices. When we get too focused on eating certain foods we've deemed healthy and not eating certain other foods we've deemed unhealthy, or on what the number on the scale says, we allow this foundation to become eroded. Healthful eating depends on the fact that we do it for pleasure and as a way to take care of ourselves. Not as a way to punish ourselves for bad behavior or to reshape a body we aren't satisfied with.

Take a look at these attitudes and behaviors that form the foundation of healthful eating skills. 

You trust your body

o   You tune into your signals of hunger and fullness and respond to them – not to some predetermined amounts of food you feel you are supposed to eat.

o   You trust your body to know how much it needs to weigh and are able to reject outside pressure - whether it is medical or aesthetic – to strive for a body weight other than the one that is right for you. You focus more on caring for your body, not changing it.

You eat for pleasure

o   You choose foods you enjoy

o   You don’t have mental lists of healthy vs. unhealthy foods (that would make you feel guilty – there is no room for guilt in healthful eating). 

o   You can pay attention to basic nutrition principles to guide your meal planning without it taking the pleasure and reward out of eating

You prioritize food and eating

o   You make time to plan, prepare and eat meals

o   You eat meals on a reliable schedule

o   You sit down and pay attention while you eat

Putting a coat of paint on the outside of the house won't be very helpful if the whole structure starts caving in.  In the same way, trying to eat a diet of foods based on their nutritional value won't be very helpful if you are missing key pieces to your eating foundation. 

So when forming your New Year’s resolutions this year. Consider your eating attitudes and behaviors. Do you trust your body? Are you looking for ways to care for your body and improve its health, not mold it into a certain size or shape? Do you feed yourself reliably? Prioritize meals? Pay attention when you eat? (That means not driving, watching TV, working at your computer or scrolling through social media on your phone…). Form some resolutions that will shore up your eating foundation.  Because that vibrant wonderful body you have right now deserves to be well cared for!  Have a happy and healthful 2018!