Diet culture is more influential than many of us realize. There are so many diet messages that we have heard repeatedly that over time have become lodged deep within our psyche. It can be hard to shake these messages even when we have evidence that those messages are misleading or even flat-out lies.
One of the most pernicious lies is that achieving a lean, healthy weight requires significant calorie restriction and that the more we restrict, the lighter we will be.
Time and again, I see women restrict their eating to the point where their metabolism slows and they don't get the results that they want. Or they get so hungry from eating too little that they end up binge eating and derailing their progress in that way.
Recently, I was working with a client, Linda, who is in her 60s and has struggled her entire adult life with her weight and binge eating. As we talked, Linda told me what a typical day of eating looked like for her. Her breakfast usually consists of an egg bite (yep, singular) and her lunch is either non-fat yogurt or half of an apple. It's no surprise that Linda sometimes binges when she gets home from work, she is HUNGRY.
I asked Linda to start moderately increasing her portion sizes at breakfast and lunch. This freaked her out! She was absolutely convinced that eating even a little bit more would result in weight gain. The idea of restricting as much as possible was so deeply-seated in her mind that she refused to consider that eating more might actually help her get the results she wanted.
It didn't matter that what Linda had been doing for decades had never worked for her, she could not let go of the mentality that she just needed to do better at eating less.
Even as a former personal trainer and a certified nutrition coach, I have fallen prey to this idea that eating less is going to lead to a leaner body. Below is a comparison picture from July to November. In the photo on the left, I had been stricter than normal for a few months with my food intake and yet I wasn't losing weight or leaning out. The second picture I took as my "before" picture when I started a new 90-day workout program last week. It was taken after several months of being more relaxed about my food intake.
Honestly, I was surprised when I saw the two pictures side by side. The *only* change I made was increasing my calories by approximately 200 to 300 calories per day and I was already eating quite a bit of food. I didn't change my workouts and I didn't change the type of foods I was eating (which for me is mostly *real* foods with daily treats including foods like chocolate and alcohol and a roughly even spread of macros—carbs, protein, and fat).
Yep, I started eating more and my body responded favorably...you can totally see the difference around my mid-section in particular.
The truth is that there's a sweet spot where you are eating in a range that is just right for your body. Nourish your body with an adequate amount of mostly nutritious food, and your body will naturally look and feel good. Not sure how you can figure this out? I would love to help you with this! 💜