It may seem like a daunting task to integrate more fresh and wholesome foods into your diet, but this is the way people who recover get started and it feels more and more normal as they go along. In time, it’s second nature and they look back and wonder how they ever survived the complicated diets they went on. Eating should not be particularly complicated. Eat a variety of foods every time you have a meal and choose snacks to fill in important whole foods you may miss at meals. Select from three or four of the food groups throughout the day, always having fruits and/or vegetables every opportunity. Maybe there are foods you tend to avoid from habit and need to add to your diet. And perhaps you would enjoy learning to prepare new recipes to add variety. There are many resources for quality eating information available on the web and in bookstores. Snack times are great for integrating fresh foods, but be careful here. Very often mid morning and mid afternoon snack time requires something more substantial than a few carrot sticks. A piece of fruit midmorning may not hold you very well until lunch, but that’s what you want—you want to spoil yours appetite for lunch so you can eat a quality meal comfortably. So your snack might be two oranges or bananas and nuts, or a bunch of broccoli with dip and a bunch of grapes. You know what I mean.
Eating Mostly Plants
I keep saying things like, “Always having fruits or vegetables at every opportunity.” With all this talk about focusing on plant-based foods, it sounds like you might as well become a vegetarian. Well, you might. Or you may choose to minimize animal foods, keeping plant-based foods front and center in your diet. The main advantage of staying with all or mostly plant foods is that you are assured of high quality in your eating. Variety will still play a role in your dietary choices but you are certain to be eating good, solid food with high nutrient value.
Easy Weight Loss Tips Getting Used to Balance and Variety Photo Gallery
There are some down sides of vegetarian and vegan eating. The main one is plant foods, in general, may not keep you full as long, and it is easy to become over hungry if you don’t plan carefully. This is why people who become vegetarian to lose weight don’t lose it—they stay on the feast or famine cycle. So the same principles for getting off the cycle and losing weight apply here. Another consideration about going vegetarian is getting enough plant protein. Bodies need complete sets of amino acids from dietary proteins regularly and animal foods provide this. Vegetarians and vegans have to combine plant foods to form these complete proteins. If you are headed towards a partial-vegetarian, complete vegetarian or a vegan diet, it’s important to educate yourself about this issue.
Am I recommending a plant-focused diet? Yes. A lot of research points to the superior aspects of this type of eating. Does this mean you have to give up meat or dairy to recover and lose weight? No. But I have found in coaching those who are stuck that their recoveries start moving along when they stay off the feast or famine cycle and switch to plant-focused eating.
Boredom with Food
You’ve probably snickered about this idea earlier on. It is a real switch and it really happens—it happens to virtually everyone in recovery. They feel hungry and go to the refrigerator but nothing looks appealing. They don’t want to eat even when they’re hungry! This points to your body’s need to pull you back on food intake and it is a clear indication of getting/staying off the feast or famine cycle. You do have to eat less food than you are using up to lose weight, right? Well, this time you’re not forcing the change—your body is re-adapting, and you are helping it along: Your appetite goes down, sometimes by your general disinterest in food. All of a sudden, it seems, you are very picky about what you eat and sometimes you just don’t want anything. All you can do then is wait until you get a very clear signal to eat something you really want to eat, and you may be surprised at how little food it takes to satisfy you. This change may be very subtle, so keep paying attention. It’s not a static change but may come and go so staying in tune is crucial.
It’s Up To You
One of the drawbacks of this recovery process is that all the decisions about what to eat and when to eat are left up you. You must think and act for yourself. Traditional diets typically take a lot of the guesswork out of dieting. In fact, one woman who’d just lost 18 pounds in six weeks on a diet in a magazine, (way too fast, by the way), commented that the diet was great for her because it left no room for error—she didn’t have to think about anything—just do exactly what the diet told her to do. This may sound like a perfect plan to some but it is utterly unrealistic for lasting success. Can anyone live the rest of her life eating only and exactly what someone else allows her to eat while living in the food environment we have today? I don’t think so. The disadvantage of having all the say-so about your eating is that you have to take total responsibility for it—for the things that work for you and for the things that don’t. This is hard for many people. It’s easier to follow instructions and then, if things don’t work out in the long run, blame yourself, which is usually the case, or blame the diet. There’s no blame to go around here, unless you want to blame me. But I’m not going to tell you to apply these principles to your life and I’m not going to guarantee you’ll succeed if you try it. It’s up to you.
I’m often asked what I eat. I usually keep this information to myself because the question reflects the old diet thinking that there’s a magic formula or food combination that will bring the desired results. What I eat has nothing to do with what you will learn to eat in order to normalize your relationship with food, with your body and your weight. Every body is different and every recovery is different. The principles for recovery are basically the same, but if you try to recover with rigid expectations, resistance to making necessary changes, and an unwillingness to keep your efforts aimed at managing your part of the recovery process, you will probably be disappointed.
There is one thing about my eating that I do share. I eat all kinds of foods that aren’t typical for specific meals. I often have leftovers from the dinner the night before for breakfast or brunch. Then I might have eggs mid-afternoon and a big salad for dinner. I don’t follow the rules here because I’m following my appetite.
Illustration of Recovery:
Recovery begins with the end of the feast or famine cycle—the last feast. Remember, the cycle must end with a feast—the very last one you will experience. It may be a mild feast or a protracted one, depending on your recent diet history. Here’s an illustration of what recovery looks like. Keep in mind that the stages may overlap and do not necessarily happen in order. This will give you a path to keep yourself going in the right direction in your recovery. If you get off track, you will know it soon enough by checking this simple illustration of the broad stages of recovery.
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