Dieting: be strict or be honest?

Most diets depend on being strict with ourselves, fighting our own hunger, habits, and cravings to get weight down.

Many of them offer gimmicks, support, or reframing of the problem to help us win that fight.

My approach is more about being honest with ourselves as to why we are eating, connecting the dots between our bodyweight and our relationship with food.

There are lots of aspects to it, but the core of the diet is simple: if you regularly eat more than you need to keep going, you will gain/maintain your weight.

If you understand what’s going on and become mindful of your own motivations and your body’s signals, it becomes increasingly difficult to overeat. Not impossible, but very difficult.

You’re able to tell the difference between actual hunger and cravings, boredom, escapism; you’re able to recognise the negative emotions behind cravings; and even if you “fail” and overeat, it gives you an opportunity to fine-tune and observe the whole dynamic with awareness of what’s really going on in your mind and body.

I ate a big bowl of leftover noodles last night for dinner. And my body was telling me “woah! This is way too much!” It wouldn’t have felt that way a week ago.

And sure enough, three quarters of the way through I felt an unfamiliar feeling of my stomach stretching. I was pushing my limits and after finishing I felt more full than I can remember in a long time.

That might sound like a failure, and yeah it’s counter to my desire to lose weight. But I’m not making excuses to myself for it. I’m aware of what was going on in my mind and body at the time, and my natural conclusion is “boy, that wasn’t worth it!”

If your diet depends on being strict with arbitrary serving sizes, these “transgressions” are just as arbitrary and therefore easy to excuse and forgive or ignore.

But because my diet depends on a more honest and mindful relationship with my own body’s signals, when I eat too much my body shows me exactly what’s going on, and I cannot help but learn a lesson from it.

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