I started working with a dietician a few weeks ago because I’m trying to improve my relationship with food. I want to eat healthier, but also think healthier about what that means.
I’ve written posts in the past about how, on the recommendation of my family doctor I started using a macronutrient app to track what I ate. She told me to just focus on getting more protein earlier in the day and save carbs for later, and to not pay attention to the calorie tracking part of it. I ignored that last part and lost in the neighbourhood of 25 pounds in less than six months.
I wrote several posts focusing on the numbers. How much I lost, how much I worked out, how I hadn’t used any fancy diet program, and how great it felt to get on the scale.
I really did feel great, but eventually got tired of tracking everything I ate. Then I was hit with a bout of depression and after I was finally doing a lot better from that, 2020 arrived. I tried going back to using the app, but didn’t consistently use it and became annoyed with myself for that and having put the weight back on, so I contacted a dietician who specializes in exactly what I’m looking for — improve how I feel both physically and mentally by helping me change the way I think about food and about myself eating that food.
This won’t sound strange to most women out there, and likely a lot of men, but it’s long been the case that if I for example have a piece of cheesecake, later, maybe the next day when I got on the scale, I’d end up mentally berating myself for not eating healthier. In turn, and this will also sound familiar to many of you, the negative way I look at myself leads to me mindlessly turning to some comfort that will give me that dopamine hit that provides temporary good feelings. The same thing happens when you see that somebody likes your social media posts. It’s a quick hit that doesn’t last and you need to go back for more. It’s all very unhealthy.
I’ve had two appointments so far and this is what I’ve learned and am trying to change:
- Getting on a scale is more likely to make you feel more bad than good
- Listen to your body. Your brain may want the dopamine, but your body is a better judge of what you actually need.
- Macronutrient apps and other ways of calorie counting don’t work in the long run because your body needs different things on different days due to changes in activity levels, hormones, and a host of other factors.
- Berating yourself for what you eat will never work, at least not in the long run.
- Eat slower, eat at the table, and savour the first bite (like smells, you’ll get used to the taste and the sixth and seventh bites won’t taste as good as the first and second).
- Use a smaller plate. When you finish what’s on it (remember, slow down), check out your hunger level. Do you need more of what you were eating? If yes, have some more. Does your body want something else (you’ve had enough fish, it needs some fruit dipped in peanut butter)?
- Don’t think of foods as inherently healthy and not healthy. Every time I do this while talking to my dietician she stops and asks me why I think something is healthy or not. I have no health conditions that require me to be on a restricted diet, so really there are no healthy and not healthy foods for me.
I’m trying to change my mindset about how I eat to not be about losing the weight I’ve gained since the start of last golf season. I’m trying to focus on making sure my body feels good enough to be able to continue to walk the golf course through an entire round of 18 holes for years to come.