Posted in Food and self-image, Renuka

Mindful eating, the answer to a diet-free healthy lifestyle?

Why dieting doesn’t usually work – Sandra Aamodt

What if we told all those dieting girls that it’s okay to eat when they’re hungry? What if we taught them to work with their appetite instead of fearing it? I think most of them would be happier and healthier, and as adults, many of them would probably be thinner. I wish someone had told me that back when I was 13.

Sandra Aamodt

All my life i’ve been fat. All of it guys, I’m not joking. My family always jokes about how as a toddler, my grandma would keep feeding me and I would keep opening my mouth for more – so she would keep feeding me until there was no more food left. While the story of my toddler self never being able to control myself around food, sounds amusing to my family – It’s painful for me to hear.

Because, it sounds remarkably a lot like how I am now. Except now as an adult, I am my own grandma, and I keep feeding myself. Even when i’m full. Even when I know I don’t want anymore. Even when I know I’m hurting myself.

So while everybody thought this was cute when I was a child – things quickly got out of hand as I grew up. I still didn’t understand food and its role in my life. See – in my family we go by the rule “better to cook more than not enough”. So in case we have guests, or people are feeling extra hungry on the day – there’s always extra food in the kitchen.

But more often than not – there are always leftovers. And what happens to these leftovers? Well, my aunt (the main chef) will complain about how she slogged the whole day in the kitchen and everyone is not eating enough etc etc, essentially guilt-tripping us into eating more. And by us, I mean mostly me.

See – the thing about me is – I hate making my family disappointed. I hate making my loved ones upset. So, as a child I sought out the easiest ways to make the people around me happy.

Be well behaved.

Don’t make your parents angry.

Follow instructions.

Listen to the adults.

Boy, if I had known that all the adults around me had no idea what they were doing – I’d have been better off not doing any of that.

So I ate. I ate, and I ate more. And somewhere along the way, I developed a terrible relationship with food. I didn’t know when I needed it. I still don’t. The problem is – it’s cute to be a chubby child. But sometime between being a toddler and midway-through primary school, chubby goes out of fashion for all children. Then it becomes unhealthy. Then you are fat. Then you are essentially a monster for not being able to control yourself around food.

It doesn’t matter that the adults around you are the ones who couldn’t show you a good example. They are all considered to be a healthy weight – so the problem must be you. A child.

I have been put on diets since I was in primary school. I have been forced to work out, skip meals. I did anything and everything so I could lose weight as I grew older. Even tried weight loss pills – at my family’s recommendation, and on my own. Nothing has worked. Every kilo I lost, I put it right back on after a year at most.

Somewhere between being a cute chubby child and becoming the “giant” that many refer to me as now, I think I just gave up on my health. A part of me didn’t ever believe I will be healthy because I will never be thin. Somewhere along the way – I grew to believe that only thin is healthy, and therefore I am not. I could be working out everyday and eating below 1200 calories of home made food, and yet I was twice the size of my peers – so I was unhealthy. It made me angry. And before I knew it, I’d be back on the binge cycle again.

It just doesn’t make sense. Sandra Aamodt gets this. And in her video she explains why this doesn’t make sense.

From “Why dieting doesn’t usually work – Sandra Aamodt”

The graph above shows how the relative risk of death increases and decreases depending on the number of the four recommended healthy habits an individual adopts. The study from which this graph was obtained observed that, if an obese individual:

  1. eats enough fruits and vegetables,
  2. exercises three times a week,
  3. doesn’t smoke, and
  4. drinks in moderation

they had the same relative risk of death as one at a normal weight. And this is what really struck a chord. It made me realise – it doesn’t matter how big I am. What I really want now that I’m older – is to be healthy. And to prove that I can be healthy at any weight. And if that means I will never be thin, or if it means I lose some weight along the way – it doesn’t matter.

What I really want – is to take care of myself. And to stop beating myself up through harsh diets and crazy exercise regimes. That isn’t healthy, and I don’t want that anymore.

As part of my quest into getting healthy at thirty (LOL), I will be adopting mindful eating, as well as the four habits listed above. I shall be doing some more research, but along the way I will also be getting my annual physical assessments done. So I’m excited to see where I am now. And where i will be in a year’s time. I’ll put them up here once they are ready so we can all see how this goes!

I also highly recommend that you watch the video if any of what I’ve written resonated with you. Aamodt goes more in depth about how your brain makes it much more difficult to return to a normal weight when you have been heavy all your life, but I’ll leave you to watch and find out more on that.

I started this post on a sombre note, but I’m really more excited than anything to get on with it. Till the next fortnight folks!

Image: Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash.com

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