I don't know what to eat to lose weight is by far the most common question I receive from women over 35. I receive emails, letters and messages from so many women telling me they have no idea what to eat.
Many of them are successful, brilliant women yet they feel like they have no idea what or how to eat to lose weight. My clients, women over 35, feel this way too when they begin working with me.
It's almost like these brilliant women over 35 are asking me for permission to eat or what to eat to lose weight. They also want to know the rules. They want me to give them the exact rules for losing weight.
Rules when it comes to their diet and exercise - don't eat carbs, eat carbs, don't eat sugar, eat sugar, don't eat fat, don't fast, fast in the morning, drink alcohol, don't drink alcohol, exercise like this or not exercise at all.
This is one of the ways diet culture has created for women confusion around food and it has greatly affected their self image, self worth and belief in their ability to change. There's also a great amount of fear of failure.
They fear if they do not follow the exact, perfect, correct rules they will fail and many women over 35 will tell me in free consultations that they are so scared of failing again.
Diet culture has created generations of women who are rule followers. They no longer trust their instincts around food and believe they need someone (like me!) to tell them the exact rules in order for them to take action. These women are not using their own logic and common sense with regards to setting healthy habits and losing weight.
The irony is you cannot lose weight and keep it off for good if you don't learn to trust yourself. Otherwise you will lose weight, then realize you don't trust yourself and trust yourself around certain foods then overeat those foods and gain the weight back. All because of lack of trust.
That's because you never learned and during weight loss you have to learn how to enjoy all foods in moderation.
Creating a lifestyle you can do forever means you have to learn to trust yourself, trust how you eat and trust what makes you feel best in your body instead of trusting the rules.
I don't give my clients rules. I give them guidelines and based on the guidelines they begin to figure out what works best for them and feels best for their body and lifestyle. This is so important and often so overlooked when women over 35 have previously approached weight loss.
Today I'm going to answer what to eat for weight loss in this Dish On Ditching Diets podcast episode. I also share two mindset issues at the root of your endless search for the rules and the perfect way of eating to lose weight.
Listen to the episode for all the details. It's a long one, but there's many nuggets of help in there for you!
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- How Diet Culture Has Created Generations of Women Who Don't Trust Themselves Around Food + Endlessly Search for the Perfect Way of Eating
- How I Coach Clients With Guidelines Not Rules
- Example of Eating Out At Olive Garden
- Example of Client Who Said She Was "Bad' for Eating A Cheeseburger
- Client Who Was Keeping Cookies Out of Her House Before Working With Me & How She Now Has No Issues With Cookies
- The Big Rocks of Weight Loss
- Are You Focusing on the Wrong Things for Losing Weight
- The Two Mindset Issues At The Root of Your Search for the Perfect Way of Eating
Listen To The Full Podcast Episode - What To Eat To Lose Weight!
Podcasts Mentioned In This Episode
What To Eat To Lose Weight Transcript
Hello Friends! Today we’re talking about I don’t know what to eat to lose weight.
I realized recently that women over 35 have no idea what to eat. Many of you have emailed me asking what do I eat to lose weight and my clients say this to me too, and I am so fascinated by this.
Literally all these women have no idea what to eat or how to eat. Brilliant, successful women who come and work with me. CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, business owners, recruiters, stay at home Mom’s. All these brilliant successful women say to me, Megan, I just have no idea what to eat.
It’s like these brilliant women are asking me for permission to eat and to tell them WHAT to eat, and I’ve heard my clients say this to me many times. I just needed you Megan to give me permission to eat bread, pizza, ice cream, cookies, etc.
Like you’re an adult, but you’re looking for someone else to give you permission to eat and tell you what and how to eat. This is insane!
And it is one of the ways diet culture has created disordered eating for women because they literally don’t know what to eat anymore. You want the rules because every diet you’ve ever followed is all about the rules.
What’s the rules? What are the exact rules to losing weight? Tell me the rules and I’ll follow the rules! Then you follow the rules, you’re super strict and hard on yourself and rely on willpower only to lose weight and gain it back at some point. Why? Because you never created a lifestyle. You just followed the rules.
What every woman I’ve ever seen is they ask me for the rules. Tell me the rules of what to eat, what not to eat, how much food to eat, what time of day to eat, what’s the rules to exercise.
Tell me the exact rules! Diet culture has literally taught you that there are rules. Rules when it comes to your diet – don’t eat carbs, don’t eat sugar, don’t eat fat, fast in the morning, OMG you can only eat meat, cheese and eggs and you better not drink diet soda. Oh yeah and drink apple cider vinegar and celery juice.
I’m just going to tell you right now - all of that is BS. That is not how you create a sustainable lifestyle for yourself. Following rules doesn’t result in a sustainable lifestyle. Yet, that’s how so many of you keep trying to approach weight loss.
I don’t give my clients rules. I give them guidelines. I talked about this in podcast episodes 55 and 56. I don’t tell my clients exactly what to eat. I give them guidelines of what to include in their meals to keep their metabolic hormones balanced.
One of those guidelines I talk about all the time on my Instagram (I’m Skinnyfitalicious) if you want to come follow me - I talk about protein and including protein with every meal.
I also teach my clients about their hunger and work with them on building the skill of listening to their own hunger signals and their bodies, so they know how to adjust their portion sizes to what their body needs so that they don’t have to count calories, count point, count macros or count whatever.
I don’t tell my clients what to eat. They have to figure that out based on the guidelines. Sure, we talk through ideas, we brainstorm together, and I give them suggestions on things but ultimately, I’m not telling them eat this meal or eat this way all day long, every day until you lose weight. No!
You don’t create a sustainable lifestyle to keep the weight off for good when someone else just hands you the rules and you follow the rules. Most of you are approaching weight loss this way and that is why you’re stuck.
You follow the rules and try to be so perfect with the rules. Then you’re like OMG I have to lose weight. Let me cut out all the carbs. So, you cut the carbs out and now you’ve got a team dinner at Olive Garden and you’re freaking out because you’re relying on willpower to say no to the carbs because you told yourself carbs are bad.
You end up ordering fried lasagna at Olive Garden, eating the entire meal and 2 bread baskets and then you end up at home beating yourself up afterwards, calling yourself a bunch of names and proclaiming you’re a failure and telling yourself how you’re just broken and can never figure it out.
When if you had never cut out all the carbs, you might have said alright let me go to Olive Garden and see what food I like and figure out how to make it better. Maybe I eat half the fried lasagna take the rest home and have 1 bread stick. Guys, that is how you begin to create a sustainable lifestyle.
Now I know some of you, because you are perfectionists, are going to be like OMG fried lasagna, that’s so bad for you. It’s so unhealthy. I shouldn’t be eating that way. I should be eating healthier.
If that, is you, stop. Stop that nonsense right now. It’s not helping you, in fact that is the exact reason you’re stuck because you say it’s not good enough. You have the mindset that it’s not good enough or perfect enough. I’m going to tell you, that IS good enough in the beginning. You are not ready to give up all the foods you enjoy. I was this way in the beginning too.
I wasn’t a healthy eater by any means, and I traveled every week as a consultant for work. So, I was eating out every single meal. I simply took my meals and cut them in half and over time I started incorporating some vegetables and fruits and started making some healthier swaps.
I drank diet coke, I put real cream in my coffee. I didn’t start out on day one and say let me cut out every food I think it unhealthy or bad. No! That’s not how it works. You don’t keep weight off doing that.
When I was losing weight, I had a small subway turkey sandwich with baked chips and a diet coke for lunch most days. That was in 2009. Fast forward to today, I’m eating a big ass salad with tuna, potatoes, all the vegetables, and balsamic.
If I would have forced myself to eat a salad back in 2009 like I do today, I never would have lost my 80 pounds. Forget it! I wasn’t ready for that yet.
Speaking of diet coke, so many ladies tell me they have to cut out the diet coke. Why? It doesn’t have calories. Why would you even worry about something that doesn’t have calories right now?
I lost weight drinking diet coke. Never cut it out and then one day, a few years after losing weight, I realized I didn’t like how it made my body feel and I stopped drinking it. Haven’t had a soda probably since. Don’t miss it, don’t think about. The difference is I didn’t force myself into cutting it out like many of you do.
It’s time for you to take your power back. Stop asking for permission for what you can or cannot eat and start working to build a lifestyle you can actually sustain until the day you die.
That is unless you like losing weight and gaining it back over and over again. Keep doing that if you enjoy that. But if you want better for yourself and you no longer want to struggle then you must start approaching weight loss differently.
I see so many wonderful, smart women suffering, and I hear it in my free consults. The suffering you keep putting yourself through is unnecessary and you’re choosing it when you keep doing these diets or looking for more rules.
Diet culture has created this disordered eating for you so now you don’t know how or what to eat and now you’re scared of eating and then you get into this mindset of it’s not good enough, it’s not healthy enough, it’s going to take too long.
It’s so crazy from where I’m sitting to see so many women this way, but it’s literally from all the diet culture noise that is out there. And it’s gotten even worse in my opinion. You have these doctors and health gurus who are talking about apple cider vinegar and gut cleanses and celery juice and all these other random things.
Here I am just trying to get my clients to eat 3 balanced meals a day to fuel their bodies because they’re skipping meals and overeating and over snacking at night because they’re not putting regular fuel in their bodies all day.
Then you’ve got some guru over here talking about a gut cleanse or celery juice. None of that is helpful, when you’ve got all this population of women who aren’t even properly fueling their bodies because they’re so turned upside down on how to even eat anymore.
Is there are time and place for some of those protocols? Yes, but it’s not while you’re trying to create a sustainable lifestyle. Create the lifestyle first, learn how to eat 3 balanced meals a day at home, on vacation and at restaurants and work on all the other basics of weight loss like walking, sleep and drinking water.
Once you have that down and you’re feeling confident you can do all that until the day you die THEN feel free to venture off into some of these things.
None of those things move the dial for weight loss by the way. You need a calorie deficit for weight loss and if you’re doing something like drinking celery juice it’s likely causing a blood sugar spike making you more prone to overeating and going over your calories, or if you’re only drinking celery juice for breakfast, you’re not fueling your body setting yourself up for hunger and overeating later in the day. Just saying – it’s not the thing to focus on!
But what I see women over 35 doing, is searching for the perfect plan. The perfect food plan, perfect calories, perfect meal plan, perfect grocery list. I literally get so many messages from women each week asking for these things.
You all think there’s this secret food plan and once you find that secret food plan, you’ll be able to lose weight. Guys, I’m telling you right now there is no secret food plan. You know what to be eating to lose weight. You know the difference between a potato and a French fry. You know the difference between an apple and chips.
What most of you do is say OMG I want to lose weight and you’re like I have to cut everything out. Can’t have anything I like. So you cut everything out and you’re able to do that for a while and then you lose weight and then you gain it back because you’re like OMG now I lost weight and can’t eat anything I like.
Then you start eating foods you like, but you have zero control over how you eat those foods because you didn’t practice including them in your plan while losing weight.
I had a client tell me recently after a holiday weekend how she was “bad” eating a cheeseburger and fries. What? It’s a cheeseburger and fries. You weren’t being bad. You were being normal.
Enjoying a holiday weekend. The only thing that was bad was you telling yourself you were being bad. Unless you plan to never eat a cheeseburger and fries the rest of your life why would practice restricting it during weight loss?
Weight loss is about creating sustainable habits. If you can’t sustain it, don’t practice it. People don’t lose weight and keep it off by doing extreme things like cutting out foods they like. They learn how to include them.
That mindset of being bad and depriving yourself is exactly why you feel so out of control with food – it’s the mindset of I have to be perfect to lose weight.
If I’m not perfectly following the rules or eating the most perfectly healthy foods, you make it mean you can’t ever figure it out and you use it as an excuse to stop.
Look at what you were doing all around that. This client I mentioned with the cheeseburger and fries has been working so hard on eating 3 meals a day and getting them balanced. In my mind, she didn’t do anything wrong. She was practicing eating all foods and learning how to balance them.
But it’s so fascinating because in her mind because of all the diet rules she’s ever followed she was believing that she must be failing. That this must mean she’ll never lose weight and keep it off.
That’s being really dramatic if you step back, but that’s the drama your brain offers you because you’ve only ever attempted losing weight by following rules and now your head is in this all or nothing mindset. Episode 5 I talked about all or nothing mindset.
You have black or white thinking around food and so you think weight loss is about the rules and just following the rules. Then whenever you don’t follow the rules, you automatically equate that to failing.
That’s not failing. But unfortunately, that’s what diet culture has taught you and this is why you and so many women like you have a disordered relationship with food, your body and you feel like something in your head has gone awry.
One of my other clients was struggling with cookies. She was keeping cookies out of the house when we began working together and I said to her do you never want to eat a cookie again until the day you die?
She was like well, no! I told her unless you plan on never eating a cookie until the day you die, the plan of keeping the cookies out of the house is not going to work because the second you bring the cookies back in, you will binge on them. Guaranteed.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, we have to bring cookies in the house and begin working through the process of learning how to not overeat them. She was scared, but guess what?
Now she’s in control of the cookies. In our last coaching session, she told me the cookies had been in the pantry for 6 weeks and it didn’t bother her. I think this is what you really desire for yourself.
To feel in control instead of feeling out of control around food. Cutting foods out and following rules gives you less control and makes you feel out of control.
So, there are a two mindset issues that are at the root of your endless search for the rules and perfect way of eating to lose weight that I want you to see. One is you don’t trust yourself.
You don’t trust your own body. You don’t trust your impulses around food. You don’t trust your ability to say this is the plan and this is what I’m doing today even if XYZ happens.
The first is you don’t trust your own hunger signals, so you don’t want to eat and then you restrict and binge later in the day. You don’t trust when your body tells you it’s tired and it needs to go to bed.
You don’t trust when your body says I’m too sore from that workout today so then you push too hard and overtrain. You don’t trust yourself to make the right choices so then you won’t try anything or take any action because you want a guarantee that it will be right.
That’s all-disordered thinking you have about yourself and distrust you have with yourself and so now when it’s time to lose weight, you go out on your endless search for more information, for the perfect rules, the perfect plan - the worst part is you put your trust more into the rules of the plan than into yourself. You put more trust into WW, calories, macros, Keto, Whole30, low carb, meal plans than you put into yourself.
Do you think that’s a problem? That you put more trust into those rules than in yourself? Then in your own body? I think it is! It’s what I see with women over and over. They completely tune out what their own body is telling them, or they question it.
Like why is my body still hungry? I ate everything on my plan. I ate all my points or calories today. They act like their body isn’t supposed to be doing that. Like my points and calories know me best. Not my body! No!!! But that’s what many of you are doing when you’re searching for the perfect rules or asking me how you should be eating.
I had someone recently tell me they wanted to know what creamer to put in their coffee. She mentioned she was doing WW and drinking a sugar free creamer that she hated and makes her body feel like crap but she’s using it because it fits her points!
This is what I mean. You’re following the rules, but you’re not listening to your body and it’s something you hate and makes you feel like crap, so guaranteed you aren’t going to be able to do that until the day you die.
That’s why I don’t teach my clients to follow a strict plan or tell them exactly what foods or coffee creamer to drink. I help them figure out what works for them. I guide them.
That’s what a coach does, is guide otherwise you never learn. When you’re 85 years old, what are you going to do? Still follow rules of a diet?
I’m pretty sure your food requirements are going to be different when you’re 85 and your body is going to react differently to foods too at that age than when you were 40. You won’t need as much food and if you never learn to trust your body then the only thing, you’re practicing is trusting the rules of a plan.
You’re practicing trust from external factors rather than learning to trust from within you. Of course, I counsel my clients on how to build better balanced meals but really the most important thing I’m teaching them is how to listen to their hunger, pay attention to the signals their body is giving them, how food is making them feel, how exercise makes them feel.
Because guess what? When you start doing that, you learn to trust yourself through that process and then you don’t need rules. You need guidelines, but you don’t need someone to tell you what coffee creamer to drink.
The worst part about this is that when you place all your trust into a food plan or diet program, you take no accountability for your health journey. When you put all your trust in another program and don’t learn to trust yourself and your body through the process, there is not accountability on you.
So, when you’re done with WW you don’t have to take any accountability for it not working. You get to blame the WW instead of you taking a hard look at your excuses and objectively analyzing why you couldn’t be consistent, what got in your way, why you overate after a bad day. I can’t tell you how many lovely women come to my free consults and tell me they have no idea why they can’t lose weight.
I hear this every time. Megan, I just can’t lose weight. They tell me all the diets they’ve done and how they’ve lost weight and gained it back. And I’m over here scratching my head going, you just told me you have no idea why you can’t lose weight, yet you’re telling me all the times you HAVE lost weight. The problem isn’t that you can’t lose weight my dear. The problem is you can’t keep it off.
What is so fascinating is when I point this out, they’re like oh yeah, you’re right. It never dawned on them to think about the real problem being that they couldn’t be consistent with the diet so they could keep the weight off.
Ladies, you must solve for the real problem. If you stop doing a diet, ask why did I stop doing the diet? I’m going to guess it was too restrictive. Just guessing over here! LOL
But when I ask these lovely ladies why they stopped doing the diet and why they gained the weight back, they’re like it didn’t work - I just couldn’t stick with it. My question is always why? What got in the way? What was going on for you?
Like the majority of them, they have never reflected deeply on why it didn’t work. They just stop there. Right, because when you put your trust in something else you don’t have to take accountability. It doesn’t force you to introspectively look at yourself and look at well, maybe that approach was too drastic or maybe I’m always putting food in my mouth when I get mad.
Maybe I wasn’t creating a lifestyle for myself and was cutting too many things out. It’s safer that way but really, you’re doing yourself a big disservice because you’re never progressing and reaching your goals.
If you want weight loss as desperately you think to yourself you want, you must learn to trust from within and you have to learn how to take accountability and take accountability without beating yourself up.
Without shaming yourself and telling yourself how fat and overweight you’re going to be the rest of your life and without lying to yourself about how it’s a reward eating at night or whatever time of day you’re rewarding yourself and that you deserve it. No!
What you deserve is to feel amazing in your body. What you deserve is to feel proud of the choices you make. What you deserve is to know you can get through the day without relying on willpower and being able to walk by a plate of cookies knowing you could take or leave it. What you deserve is to feel in control of what you eat and know you can make the rules and plan foods that you look forward to.
The other reason you endlessly search for the rules is you don’t believe in yourself. You don’t believe that you can change your habits. You don’t believe you can actually follow through and keep your commitments to yourself.
You don’t believe you can keep the weight off even if you lose the weight. You don’t believe you can stay consistent because your life’s so busy, hard, stressful, and because your husband wants to eat junk all the time.
You believe it’s going to take too long; it’s going to be so hard because you have to cut everything out you like, it’s going to be terrible resisting urges to overeat. All that disbelief is at the root of your endless search for the perfect rules and way of eating.
Let me ask you right now. Do you like that you don’t believe in yourself? Does it make you feel amazing knowing that you don’t really believe in your ability to change? Do you feel great knowing that you’re someone who can’t be consistent and who’s always going to give up when life is hard, and you’re stressed? Do you really want to be that person who’s a victim to food and a victim to their own excuses?
I’m not judging you. I’m just asking. In fact, if anyone is judging you it’s only you. I’m asking you these questions because I want you to get really honest with yourself and I want you to reflect deeply on what’s really getting in your way of taking care of yourself. Respecting yourself and feeling proud of who you are.
Many of you believe respecting yourself is eating food late at night as a reward for being “good” or getting through the day. That’s not respecting yourself. That’s treating your body like a trash can. This is what I mean about being honest and deeply reflecting.
You’re not being honest with how little you believe in yourself. You’re not consciously aware of how logically what you’re saying doesn’t even make sense. So many times, I’ll be coaching a client and something will slip out of their mouth and then they’ll hear themselves and they’ll say to me how silly it sounds now that they’re saying it outload.
Right, because they’ve never given some of their thinking what I call equal airtime. They’ve never stopped to consider that their way of thinking doesn’t make sense. They’ve never stopped to question it.
Guys this is the benefit of having a coach. A coach isn’t emotionally tied to your situation like you are so they can look objectively at the situation and point out to you when you’re thinking things that don’t even make sense.
I hear from my clients all the time “I never thought to think of it that way or from that perspective.” Right, because no one has ever coached you. This is why I focus so heavily on mindset. Mindset drives your behaviors with food.
And guys I’m talking about a real coach. Not a coach quote-on-quote like you get with NOOM and some of these other programs that are using computer bots. That’s not real coaching.
My point is though you have to work on the inside FIRST to get the transformation you want on the outside. My client Karen shared this with you in episode 50 where she talked about how weight loss is a mental journey.
Most of you tell me you want to lose weight to feel better about yourself. In your mind, you think if you lose weight, you’ll feel better about yourself. It doesn’t work like that.
You start working on feeling better about yourself by showing up for yourself, having your own back, following through with your commitments to yourself FIRST.
That’s how you start feeling better about yourself and then and only then do you really, begin the journey of permanently losing weight. When you begin to feel better about yourself, you begin naturally taking better care of yourself. You realize it’s not really rewarding yourself eating late at night.
Because if you don’t believe in yourself, how will you ever stick with the rules or the plan? Let’s say you find the most amazing perfect rules and plan. It’s healthy, it makes sense.
The recipes are normal, delicious and easy. We know weight loss comes from being consistent. So, how are you going to stay consistent with those amazing, delicious recipes and perfect rules if you don’t believe in yourself? If you don’t believe that you will eventually reach your goals if you just keep going?
If you don’t believe in yourself on the way down, you’re not going to believe in yourself after you lose weight. You’ll just be scared you won’t be able to keep the weight off.
Then how will you ever keep the weight off? You won’t! You won’t be able to keep the weight off being scared all the time. You will continue to not believe in yourself and then, that lack of belief will make you stressed and fearful and then you’ll eat because you’re stressed and fearful and then you’ll gain the weight back or gain even more weight.
Ladies. This is what diet culture has done to you. Not only has it made you think you need rules when it comes to nutrition and that you need permission to eat certain foods, but it also has created this disordered thinking you have about yourself.
That is what I’m having to work on a lot with my clients when they begin working with me because they have so much disordered thinking about food, their bodies and how they think about things, we’re having to unravel all of that before we can work on the basics.
My guess is that somewhere deep down inside you really do want to believe in yourself. You want to trust yourself and feel in control around food. You want that for yourself. You wouldn't be here listening to this podcast if you really didn't want that at the end of the day.
So, if you want to get started the first step is to stop dieting seriously stop dieting and restricting and cutting things out stop trying to lose weight that way. Unless you have a food allergy or a food sensitivity, there is no reason to cut things out right now and in fact, you're probably not ready to cut those things out right now so that's the first step.
Stop doing that and start working on the big rocks, the basics that I mentioned earlier and creating a lifestyle and if you need help with creating the lifestyle and working on the big rocks and working on your mindset and you're interested in six months one to one coaching set up a free consult with me.
I'm happy to chat with you and I'm happy to let you know whether I can help you! I hope that this is helpful for you ladies and I’ll talk to you soon!