Monday, February 13, 2012

What the Diet Industry Doesn't Tell You

Fitness magazines and diet books have taught me a lot over the years, but I always felt like they were leaving out a giant piece of the equation. After devouring the latest dieting tome, I would excitedly plot out menus, shopping lists and exercise plans for the week. Yet two days later the plans would fall by the wayside and I'd be left feeling guilty, ashamed and frustrated that I couldn't seem to follow through.

In recent years the diet industry has added more discussion about healthy behaviors . In addition to the ubiquitous lists of approved foods and ever shifting focus from fat to carbs to protein, attention is now being given to habits that naturally thin people have. Advice like sticking to the outer perimeter of the grocery store (to avoid the packaged garbage in the center aisles), eating every few hours to regulate blood sugar, never skipping breakfast and not bringing trigger foods into the house are all excellent suggestions, but a major component is still missing: even after learning all of these tricks, many of us still have difficulty following through.

There have been many times where I’ve had an almost out-of-body experience, mentally screaming at myself to put down the 11th cookie and step away from the kitchen. I would get so fustrated. I knew what I should be eating to fuel my body properly, yet I continuously made terrible choices, even when I desperately wanted to change my diet.

After years of searching, I’ve finally found the missing link. I had to determine WHY I ate the wrong things (besides the fact that they taste delicious!) Like a detective, I recorded everything that was happening while I was eating, then scoured my emotional eating journal searching for clues. What were my triggers? What situations led to compulsive eating? What did I truly need, because it's not really about the food, it's about something in my life pushing me over the edge and feeling spiritually disconnected.

As I learned to solve my issues and become more spiritually awake, my compulsion to eat the wrong things honestly subsided. Notice I said "subsided", not "disappeared." Maybe someday I'll be able to be neutral about my favorite trigger foods, but for now I'm just thrilled with the progress I've made and the feeling that I'm finally on the right path.

Our emotional and spiritual health is the missing link that the diet industry rarely talks about. I understand why they don't. It's complex, it's ugly and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. “Learn to feel your emotions, communicate with your loved ones and process anger, fear and resentment like a mature adult” is not quite as sexy and simple as “Eat This to Have Rock Hard Abs!” But it's a vitally important part of the weight loss equation.