This topic is something I have mentioned in a few of my previous posts, but I decided to dedicate an entire post to it because I believe it’s one of the secrets to sustainability. Restriction of certain foods is a common theme across all diets out there. Don’t eat this, stay away from that, only eat this etc. While this may provide results in the short-term, restriction dieting usually causes more problems than solutions. Restricting yourself may help you lose weight for that 6-week challenge, but it’s not sustainable and doesn’t help foster a healthy relationship with food. Anyone who has struggled with yo-yo dieting knows how restriction forces you to create negative thoughts about foods that aren’t considered nutritious. Let’s say cookies are your favorite dessert. You are taught to tell yourself cookies are bad, and you are bad if you allow yourself to eat them. You end up thinking about it more than you should, possibly caving in and binging because... well, who knows the next time you will allow yourself to eat those cookies? This cycle continues on and on, impeding your progress and undermining your value as a person.
I recommend people start with an addition instead of restriction action plan. Rather than removing anything from your diet, I would have you add x amount of vegetables or protein, x ounces of water, or x hours of sleep. I like to stay away from the word restrict. I have multiple reasons for this, but the biggest one is because of how restriction creates an unhealthy relationship with food. When you restrict your favorite foods, you’re taught to hate them because they are bad for you. In reality, you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and still see the results you want. By coaching people in this way, I find that they develop a healthier relationship with food and are overall mentally better off compared to past restriction diets. Another reason for this methodology is that when you add more of the nutritious or healthier things to your life, the not-so-good things tend to decrease organically. If you add more vegetables, you will usually decrease your processed food intake without even realizing it. If you add more water, you will probably decrease your soda intake. So even if you are not technically restricting yourself from anything specifically, adding healthier things to your life usually leads to you subconsciously reducing the things that may be keeping you from reaching your goals.
So, what does addition look like for you right now? How can you apply this concept to your life? Think about where you are right now and where you want to be in the future. What is one thing you can work on today to help you become that person? Can you add one more serving of vegetables every day? Can you add one more hour of quality sleep? Can you add 20 minutes of exercise? Don’t think about all the things you need to restrict. Instead, just think about one thing you can add to help you become the healthiest version of yourself and add that one thing TODAY!