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3 'healthy eating' habits you need to quit

The reach of diet culture is vast. Most people reading this have been on a diet at some point in their lives. Perhaps you're even on a diet right now. The definition of being on a diet is to 'restrict oneself to small amounts of food or special foods in order to lose weight'. They're associated with being or becoming slim, and being slim is strongly assimilated with health.

The trouble is, the restrictive nature of most typical 'diets' actually moves us further away from health, both mentally and physically. By restricting foods both in quantity and variance makes it much harder for us to get all the nutrients we need, from a wide variety of sources. Dieting also contributes to an increasingly poor relationship with our bodies. Through dieting we are actively telling ourselves we are not acceptable as we are, and must take extreme measures to change that as fast as possible. Frankly there's a lot wrong with diet culture and there's a lot we need to tackle, however there are 3 increasingly common beliefs and behaviours that need to be nipped in the bud, pronto.

1) Quit banning foods

By blacklisting foods that are supposedly 'unhealthy' or 'not on your diet plan', you actually give that food an awful lot of power. Essentially you're telling yourself "I cannot possibly control myself around that food". Self-fulfilling prophecy dictates that when you eventually cave (and you will, cause that's life and diets don't last forever) you gorge yourself having been dreaming of it since you went on your low carb paleo raw food diet that made you want to poke your eyes out with a carrot stick. The trouble is, having been physically deprived for a period of time, your brain is telling you to shove it all in your face because god knows when you'll get to eat properly again.

You don't need to be making naughty and nice lists for your food, you're not Santa Clause. We need to work on making food neutral, where the aspiration becomes eating a broad and balanced diet that includes everything in moderation (yep, even cake.) It's a really tough thing in our current society where it seems everyone has opinions and ideas on what is 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' and many of them aren't shy about sharing that with you (yea thanks mate). I promise, though, that ditching the diet for a varied diet that includes nutrients for your needs will be utterly liberating, and do far more for your health and your figure than the next fad diet ever will.

2) For the love of Joe, low calorie does not = healthy

There are few things in the world that irk me as much as 'low calorie' products like zero noodles or low calorie bread. Their popularity shines a blinding light on the fact that as a society we believe that, never mind what crap is in these products, low calorie is best.

If you think in evolutionary terms, isn't this concept insane? Do you think our ancestors

hunted for food based on finding the most 'low calorie' or 'slimming foods'? Abso-frickin-lutely not. To survive and flourish we need plenty of nutrients and plenty of calories. And do you know what has neither or these? Fake, zero calorie or low calorie foods.

We need to be eating vegetables in abundance, beans, fruits, legumes, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fish, a bit of meat if that's you...all REAL foods that contain REAL nutrients and REAL calories. If for the most part you are eating a balanced diet made up of an abundance of the above, we really shouldn't need to trick our bodies by eating manufactured, low calorie 'foods'. Which brings me onto my next point...

3) Your body is smarter than you, stop trying to trick your appetite

So you're starving hungry. But you know better than those wily hunger signals trying to sabotage your weight loss goals. Just drink a pint of water and maybe a slice of cucumber if you're feeling extra kooky. Problem solved, right?

WRONG. Stop that right now. I honestly think a huge part of our problem with food as a society is this huge disconnect we have developed with our hunger signals. For many of us food is so readily available that our appetites almost become redundant. Either we're eating when we're not hungry, just cause it's there, or eating past satiety, or not eating when we're hungry because we're no longer sure whether we're actually hungry or just bored or stressed or sad or whatever else. I really want us to make a concerted effort to LISTEN to our bodies. Eat when we are hungry. Sit down and take your time when you eat. Breathe. Stop when you're full. Rinse and repeat forever and ever.

I'm not going to BS you, shifting our beliefs about diets and weight and good foods vs bad foods and good bodies vs bad bodies isn't going to happen overnight. You've got a whole lifetime of media and family and peer influence to work through! But the three points above are as good a place to start as any, and eventually we'll get there.

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