Do you find it difficult to lose weight? Is it hard to stick to a plan? Maybe your plan is too tough for anyone to stick to.
All this clean eating and eating “perfectly” business is really getting to me. Everywhere I look: online, on health & fitness blogs, Instagram; I hear it everywhere too from the gym to the grocery store, to… you get the picture. This clean eating fad has made it’s way into our normal conversations, it’s every-freaking-where. I bet you’re thinking, amen, where are you coming from? Have you been brain washed? Because, you say, clean eating is really the way to go, right? Cut out processed foods, desserts, and you’re going to be healthier, be more energized, and really love life? I guess I can attest to the first two as a general rule, but the third???? Ahh heck no, Ben & Jerrys brings so much joy into my life. Although a good kale salad does the same, it’s really NOT the same.
“I’m going to put my personal training hat on and be mean” when he wants us to use proper technique, well guys “I’m going to put on my nutrition education, credentials, and experience hat on, and be mean”. Sorry not sorry, but for a majority of us, sticking clear of those “bad for you” foods (please note the quotations) because I don’t think white bread, potatoes, and triple chocolate brownies are bad-those are their words, not mine. Is smoke billowing out of your ears yet?
I’m the queen of wanna-be moderation, and perfection has no place in moderation or my personal definition of healthy eating. Why is that? Fortunately/unfortunately, eating is much more than straight up nourishing our bodies. We eat to be social, to be satisfied, for enjoyment, for emotional reasons, out of convenience, habits, and tradition. How many social situations, emotional times, and rushed times can you remember still “eating clean” or perfectly? I can’t think of many, unless you’ve surrounded yourself with others whose idea of perfect eating is = to yours. Besides, what the heck does eating perfectly mean? I have to ask clients this all the time, because it means something different to everyone. To me, eating perfectly is following that simple plate method (you know-choose my plate). That’s it. Seriously, but is that too simple for you? There are no rules to follow, just general guidelines, and the sometimes outrageous request to fill 1/2 your plate with fruits/vegetables. Groundbreaking, right?
So why am I saying this is so bad? As I’ve taken on more clients and discussed people’s barriers to changing their lifestyle, I see that common thread. Attempted and failed diets. Again, not groundbreaking, right? I mean in 2012, $20 billion was spent on diet aids, books, diet drugs, and weight loss surgery. In addition to that it was estimated that 108 million people dieted in 2012, beyond that, they averaged 4-5 diets over that year. I’m only guessing that those numbers have continued to rise since 2012 (ABC). And, even with all of that, 69% of American adults over the age of 20 are considered overweight, and 35% are considered obese (CDC). Again, all these stats are from 2012, so I would guess that they’re higher today. Do you see the disconnect? Does this tell you that dieting works? Or that it doesn’t? It tells me that dieting does not work, even when it’s perfect or clean.
There are 2 overlying themes that indicate that this way of eating will likely be more harmful than beneficial. 1 being that it can really increase your stress. This really came to my understanding when speaking to a client who had tried so hard to lose weight. She’d tried a myriad of diets, each of which she quit once she plateaued, or never saw any results. She was motivated, smart, capable, yet very frustrated. Somehow our conversation turned to stress, I asked if the rules or guidelines for any of her diets increased her stress levels. She sat back for a second, looked down, and returned with a timid “yes”. I then asked her if that could have anything to do with her inability to lose that weight she worked to hard to achieve. 2 being that dirty side of clean eating-orthorexia. Although orthorexia is not currently considered a clinical diagnosis, it still is real and could lead to malnutrition. That’s right people, the quest to eat “perfectly” could cause malnutrition depending on what foods one cuts out. Melanie wrote a great post on orthorexia, find it here. And I ranted on the wiley fear-mongering ways of the FoodBabe here. Ugh, I’m exhausted after all this!
So Remember guys consistenty is key, have a plan and stick to it and you will get the results that you want. Remember Rome was not built in a day and health and fitness takes time and dedication.