Do you attempt to lose weight by cutting out certain foods like carbs and sugar only to find yourself binging on them? You must stop restricting to lose weight and learn how to eat all foods in balance and moderation!
Women over 35 often come to me in my nutrition practice telling me how they have no control around certain foods. How they always seems to overeat them or binge on them. If this is you, the reason you do this is because you're restricting these foods.
It's quite common for someone trying to lose weight to immediately attempt to cut things out of their diet. They have a good and bad food list in their mind thinking if they can just cut those foods out of their diet, they will be able to lose the weight, but this never works long-term.
If your goal is to lose weight for the last time, then you must stop restricting to lose weight. The restriction creates a scarcity mindset around food so once you are presented with that food or around that food, now you overindulge in the food because you believe you will never eat it again.
In this podcast episode, I share with you a letter from a dear podcast listener who asks whether or not she should eat fruit to lose weight. She went from 300 pounds to 155 pounds doing Weight Watchers, but her weight went back up to 185 pounds.
Now she's 65 and she thinks she needs to get her weight under control because of her age and not wanting to become unhealthy. She's scared that she's gained this weight back and getting older.
I share my thoughts on this podcast listener's letter and how her fear of this weight gain is creating her restrictive mindset around food, and how her being afraid is the real problem that needs to be worked on. The fruit isn't the real problem. It's honestly the least of her problems and yours!
Fear and distrust with food is a common side effect of restricting food and I suspect maybe this podcast listener's weight gain is a result of restricting while she was losing weight and then overeating as a reward for losing weight. Our brain likes to think weight loss is a reward for eating food!
The real questions for this podcast listener are what caused the weight to come back and what are you afraid of? Because that's where the real coaching lies and if you're always fearful around food and have distrust with yourself with food, you will continue to binge and restrict.
In this podcast, I also share a client story who told me sugar would cause her to overeat. In her mind, she really believed that the sugar is causing the overeating, but that is not true. I explain how sugar is like lipstick and that if you were presented with table sugar you would not overeat spoonful's of table sugar.
I share how this client's scarcity thinking and decades of restricting sugar is the exact thing causing her to overeat and eat sugar out of control. It's like the pandemic. Many of us think the pandemic caused weight gain, but the pandemic in itself did not cause people to gain weight.
People thought something about the pandemic which made them feel a certain way (i.e. stressed and anxious about the state of the world) that caused them to overeat. Their way of thinking about the pandemic caused them to gain weight. Not the pandemic by itself.
Just like this client was thinking something negative about herself and feel scared and ashamed that she would never be able to lose weight or have control around sugar. But that thinking was exactly what was causing her to overeat the sugar and it was sugar instead of steak and French fries because for years she kept telling herself sugar was bad and kept trying to restrict it!
I explain more about this in the podcast episode and share with you a challenge I have for you this holiday season to start practicing mindfulness and moderation around food. You have to stop restricting if you want to make this the last time you ever lose weight! More in the podcast episode for you.
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- Scarcity vs. Abundance Mindset
- Podcast Listener's Letter Asking Whether She Should Eat Fruit
- Why It's Not About The Fruit, It's About Fear!
- Why Restriction Does Not Work
- Client Restricting Sugar & How Restricting Sugar Causes Her To Binge
- Why You Must Learn Mindfulness Around All Foods If You Want This To Be The Last Time You Ever Lose Weight
- Why You Must Believe You Can Eat Anything You Want
- Holiday Challenge For You To Practice Including Sugar and Your Favorite Foods
Related Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episodes
- How I Lost 80 Pounds
- Why Saying You Want To Be Healthy Doesn't Help You Lose Weight
- What Your Sugar Craving Is Telling You
Stop Restricting To Lose Weight Podcast Show Notes
What I want to talk about today is to stop restricting food to lose weight. I know, what a concept. But for many of you, you have this belief that you need to restrict food or cut out foods to lose weight because so many of you come to me and share how you can’t ever be around sugar, or you can’t have cookies or treats or snacks in the house.
For me, it was always potato chips. If potato chips were around, I would eat all of them. I had to. I truly felt like I had no control and what I want to offer you today is that you DO have control over whatever food you think you don’t have control over.
You just don’t realize this, and your restriction is what is causing you to be out-of-control with the food.
I know this is what many of you do. You think to yourself I just need to lose this weight and then you immediately think about all the things you can’t eat. All the things you should no longer eat. All the foods that are bad for you. You have in your mind a list of good and bad foods.
And if you eat foods on the bad list, you are bad. You are naughty and you deserve to be punished. That’s what so many of you do. You eat the bad foods, then shame yourself by telling yourself how naughty you are.
I really think this time of year since it’s October is the best time for us to talk about stopping restriction because I know for many of you as soon as the Halloween candy shows up, you’re going to be out of control and that for many of you, that out-of-control feeling will probably last until January when the holiday season is over.
Then you’ll feel gross and think ugh, I must get this sugar thing or eating thing or whatever thing under control. I’m out of control so I need to do a diet. Then the whole vicious cycle starts again in January with you restricting food and yo-yoing with food and your weight.
So first, I’m going to share with you a letter I received from one of you – my beloved podcast listeners and answer her question. It’s not what she’s asking, but I know based on what’s she’s asking that it’s what’s underneath her question that needs the real work and coaching which is why I’m answering it here, and I know many you can relate to this.
I’m also going to share a client story at the end of the podcast that relates sugar and overeating sugar. But first I want to read this letter to you and my thoughts and I’m not going to share her name with you. And for those of you listening, I want you to know you can write me letters and ask me questions and I’ll either answer them or answer them here on the podcast.
Ok, so here's what she wrote.
Hi, Megan I’m not working with you, but I’ve been listening to your podcast, and I would like your feedback on something. I’m about to turn 65 and at my heaviest was 310 pounds. I started WW in January of 2020 and by May of 2021 I got down to 155 pounds. Now this summer I got up to 185 pounds and that scares me.
As I’ve said, I’ve been listening to the podcast, but I haven’t been doing the work. I finally realized at my age, I had to get my weight back under control. I cut out processed foods with white flour, sugar and all added sugar and am focusing more on eating grains like quinoa, barely, oats, rice and chickpea pasta and I enjoy them. I’m wondering about the sugar part, do I need to cut out fruit?
I ate a lot of fruit during my weight loss journey, and it didn’t stop me from losing weight. I really want to make lasting changes that will keep me healthy. Thank you so much for your podcast and all your wonderful advice.
Okay, so there’s a lot in this letter. Now the question she’s asking is I’ve talked about in a previous podcast episode about being mindful of added sugar and I talk a lot about this with clients because added sugar is in everything these days. But I never tell my clients to never eat sugar or to cut out all sugar.
But it’s interesting that she gave me her whole story, but only asked me one question which is should I eat fruit or not? Is that considered sugar? And what I would say is that’s the least of her problems.
Because I think she already knows the answer to that and I’m not sure I would want to answer that because it will make it feel a lot more like a diet which is restricting and depriving and that’s exactly what you don’t want to happen.
Based on her letter, she already gave us the answer to her question on fruit. And in my coaching with clients, the process is not as much about what you’re eating (I do give clients nutritional guidelines and talk to them about keeping hunger hormones balanced) but my process is less about what you’re eating and more about what your mindset and thinking.
So, I’m going to highlight what I heard in this letter and how she can deal with what is going on in her mind to get her on track. I mean this woman lost a lot of weight doing WW and I’m not sure why she just wouldn’t keep doing that.
In fact, that would be my first question if I were coaching her. Why aren’t you just doing that if that was what got you to where you wanted?
But here’s my second question and just know when I’m asking these questions, these are the type of questions I ask when I’m coaching. You need to answer them for yourself. That’s how you’re going to get your answers. It’s not really about should you eat fruit or not – the real question – you are afraid, and that fear is getting in the way of what you need to do.
Why are you so afraid? You have done this. What happened – how did you gain this weight back? What were you doing? Now, I imagine that what she was doing was what she was doing that helped her take the weight off.
But my guess is something happened in her life, circumstantially that created a different way of thinking that caused her to gain the weight back.
The pandemic is a perfect example of this. For many of you, you tell me the pandemic created your weight gain. No, the pandemic was just a circumstance but what likely happened if you gained weight during the pandemic is you had some type of thinking about the pandemic.
You’re working from home, maybe taking care of kids, who are doing remote schooling from home. You were stressing out about these things going on. You were worried about the state of the world. All that thinking is what drove you to eat and gain weight. The thinking, not the pandemic. The pandemic didn’t do anything.
And my guess is for this podcast listener, something happened, a circumstance happened in her life that caused her to think differently than she had while she lost weight and that different way of thinking caused the weight to come back.
So, what were you thinking when you gained this weight back is my question? Now sometimes after you’ve lost weight your brain will go it’s a party! It’s time to celebrate and eat!
Or your brain will say, I’ve done this long enough, I should be able to at this, or I should be able to eat that and you begin to feel really deprived and restricted and you think that eating is a reward for all of your weight loss.
Because sometimes what some of us do when we lose weight like I said earlier, is we cut things out and restrict. As soon as you cut things out and restrict you are setting yourself up to overeat. You are guaranteeing yourself that you will overeat with the thinking that you need to restrict. Because thinking you need to restrict creates a scarcity mindset.
We have scarcity and abundance mindset. Most of you have a scarcity or restrictive mindset when it comes to food. You think you can’t have it but then when something happens, a circumstance in life or the food just becomes available, and you go crazy and eat all of it!
That’s because you’ve been restricting it and the act or behavior of restricting is what creates a scarcity mindset. I have to eat all of it now because I’ll never eat it again! Then you eat it all and feel horrible. This makes you scared.
Now the worst thing that can happen in your mind is for you to think something that makes you feel afraid because when you feel afraid it will activate actions that will not serve you. It will go directly against your goal.
When you get scared or you start scaring yourself, and I think she’s doing a little of both, because she’s saying I’m 65 and my health should be my priority yada yada, and I have told you several times on this podcast that health by itself is not a compelling reason to lose weight.
I talked about that in episode 74. Now, there are specific circumstances where it actually can be but for most of you it is not and I’m thinking for her it’s not.
She’s thinking she’s almost 65 and about how she’s going to be 65 and how she’s afraid because she’s gained this weight and not able to control what she puts in her mouth. And that’s a trust issue within yourself and I think this happening to her is a great opportunity for her to explore this fear and lack of trust.
So should she eat fruit is not the question. What should she think and what does she want to believe about the weight that she lost and what does she think about this weight gain? Those are the real questions.
And once she can figure out why she gained the weight, we know there are specific actions that she started doing that she was not doing before to bring this weight back and I think she needs to know exactly what that was and why she was doing it to fix it.
Were you doing it as a reward or out of fear because you started scaring yourself that when you started gaining weight that you can’t trust yourself anymore that you don’t know what to do and the fear created more negative emotions and so you started filling it will food?
Is that possibly what happened? Or were you restricting food so much the first time you lost weight that it created a scarcity mindset, and you gained weight and got scared because you couldn’t control it? Did something happen in your life that caused you to change how you were eating?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been working with a client, and they’ll say to me, “my weight was fine until this thing happened.” Like for instance, the pandemic. But the pandemic itself didn’t do anything – it only did something until you thought something about it and made yourself anxious and scared.
Why are you afraid? Because creating fear to lose weight does not work. Those of you who are trying to scare yourself thin you will not lose weight and keep it off permanently. You can’t make this the last time – there is no way.
Usually fear comes from thinking you can’t control yourself around food or you can’t trust yourself and it creates this scarcity mindset and if those are your thoughts, then those are the thoughts you need to work on so you can ladder up to knowing you can trust yourself around food and that takes work.
Maybe right now you can’t go to I can trust myself around food or I can have control around food. But maybe a ladder up thought would be it is possible for me to trust myself around food or it is possible for me to have control around food.
Because something was going on during her weight loss that caused her to lose weight, but you know, sometimes when we’re following a diet plan or diet program you have believe you can eat whatever you want.
In the end, I don’t care if you eat fruit or not but if you eat something that’s a non-nutrient dense food that you can eat it in a suitable portion size for your body. You know you can eat non-nutritious foods and still lose weight, maintain weight and keep weight off but when you believe you can’t have something EVER again and it makes you feel restricted and deprived, I promise you it’s going to end up in your mouth and not in a mindful way.
It’s going to be something you overeat because it's not a belief system you have. So, in order for you to eat something you think you can’t have, it's almost like you have to sneak around your own back, and I’m telling you - you have to believe you can eat whatever you want.
So, I mentioned I would share with you about a client and how she was overeating sugar. She kept telling me how bad sugar was for her and how sugar causes her to overeat. First all all, sugar does not cause you to overeat. Are you sitting around eating spoonful’s of sugar and unable to stop shoving spoonful’s of white table sugar in your mouth?
I highly doubt it. Sugar in and of itself is not the problem and the second thing is sugar doesn’t just fly into our mouths. Sugar is like lipstick. Do you find yourself out of control putting lipstick all over your face? I highly doubt that too.
Sugar is an innate object just like lipstick. It’s just sitting there. So for this client, the first problem is she kept placing the blame on the sugar. Sugar causes me to overeat. That’s not true. What you’re thinking about the sugar causes you to overeat.
Here was what happened to this client. Her and her husband went out for dinner, and she was dissatisfied with her clothes. She didn’t like how they felt, and she was uncomfortable. She ate a beautiful dinner then dessert came, and she took a few bites, and she told me after that dessert she came home and binged on sugar.
Now why do you think she binged? You should know the answer because I already gave you the answer earlier! Because of what she was thinking. She didn’t like how she looked in her clothes and that made her feel scared. Scared she would never get her weight under control.
Scared she would always be out of control with sugar. Then she ate the sugar and became even more scared. But the reason she binged on sugar instead of something else like steak or French fries was because how she kept saying sugar was bad. She kept trying to restrict sugar.
Remember what I said earlier, that you can restrict things and make yourself feel scared? When you believe you can’t have something or that something is bad, it makes you feel restricted and deprived, and I promise you it’s going to end up in your mouth out of control. And that’s what happened for this client. She was eating it out of control.
Because of her thinking about her clothes not fitting and being scared and because she was trying to restrict the sugar. She doesn’t believe she can eat sugar in control, but she can believe it is possible to eat sugar in control and we’re working on that.
So, the most important thing you can do is to change what you think and learn to believe you can control yourself around food and that you can eat anything you want. I mean you’re doing that anyways, even though you try to convince yourself otherwise and scare yourself. LOL
But since this is Halloween month, if this is something you struggle with restricting foods, then I think it’s the perfect opportunity for you to begin practicing eating things in control.
Practice eating 1-2 pieces of mini candy as an example. Or practice eating a cookie a day. Remember I told you in podcast episode 52 about my 80-pound weight loss and how I ate a cookie a day? By doing that, I created an abundance mindset around food. I didn’t know that was what I was going at the time, I just knew I would never stick with anything if I didn’t have a little something to enjoy along the way.
But fast forward to today, I know that was an abundance mindset and I know for many of you, you keep trying to lose weight by making yourself feel restricted and deprived and that’s keeping you fearful in that scarcity mindset and that mindset is the exact thing that causes you to overeat.
Then you get mad at yourself and think you don’t have enough willpower, but it’s not a willpower problem. It’s a mindset problem and how you keep approaching weight loss by cutting foods out and restricting them.
What if this holiday season you practiced eating foods that fuel your body with nutritious and non-nutritious foods you enjoy while being mindful of not eating beyond fullness?
How do you think this holiday season would be different for you versus in the past? Try it! Make it your own personal challenge and if you do, I want you to be kind to yourself. I know for many of you, you have a lifetime of eating issues and dieting. That doesn’t get fixed overnight.
But I know if you mess up one day and the next day you just commit to being mindful and not eating beyond fullness with holiday foods you will make progress and you won’t be in the camp of starting over and feeling like a slug starting in January.
Would that be great? I know you can do it and I know it will make a difference because restricting food never works.