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Three ways these dieticians want you to ditch the diet post-iso.

By Alicia & Bree, Founders — Wellness in Real Life

What a world we have been living in, supermarket shelves were empty, panic buying was rife, ‘procrasta-baking’ was a real thing and any food that was available to us went in to the gob. When times of stress are high, we find ourselves reaching for comfort foods on the reg (which is absolutely normal and okay to do btw!). But it’s no wonder that iso-life has meant lots of us are feelin’ the heat with food and our bodies, searching for that quick fix to ditch those stay-at-home ‘meh’ feels.  So we’ve asked dietitians and co-founders of the social enterprise WIRL, Alicia and Bree, what are their top tips for our ‘return to civilisation’ health kicks? 

1. Set your goal posts at something other than skinny

A not-so-secret secret, there is $280 billion dollar weight loss industry that banks on you (and 98% of all other humans) failing to drop the kgs, cms or clothing sizes, so you continue to come back with your generous wallet. It’s this forever unachievable cycling of weight loss/gain, as well as the constant pressure to look a certain way, that means it’s very normal (unfortunately) to have feelings of low self-worth, poor body image and a negative relationship with food. All things that are ironically, not healthy for you! 

We can’t actually control our weight (unless you physically cut your arm off which will certainly make you lighter but not necessarily healthier, side note: we DO NOT recommend this). So instead we recommend we set goals on the health behaviours (we call them HBs for short, coz how boring!) the things we can control. These are your actions, the things you do day-to-day. For those of us who like stats, there is a bunch of really solid studies that show how our health behaviours such as fruit and veg intake, exercise, smoking and alcohol intake has more of an impact on our mortality rate (death) than our weight! That is, someone who has a low weight but eats no fruit or veg, rarely exercises, drinks and smokes on the reg is at a higher risk of death than someone who has a higher weight and partakes in eating all their serves of fruit and veg daily, exercises often and doesn’t smoke or drink! So rather than setting your goal as a number on the scale, why not set a goal as a number of times per week you plan to move your bod?

2. Focus on the foods you add in, rather than what you should cut out.

Have you ever made a plan to cut a food out, like chocolate, and then just cannot stop thinking about it? It’s not you and your inability to ‘self-control’, we actually have a deep physiological response to fixate on food when it’s cut from our lives. Thanks to our hunter-gatherer ancestors it was an evolutionary benefit to fixate on food when we cut it out or go into a state of calorie deficit. So nowadays, when we cut food and calories from our diets, our bodies essentially think we’re starving ourselves, and this prompts us to search for food!

So instead, what we encourage people within our WIRL community to do is to focus on all the colour and variety you can pack into your diet. If you can ramp up your intake of foods across the 5 core food groups; fruit, veggies, whole grains, dairy (or alternatives), meat (or alternatives including nuts, seeds and legumes) and mix and match them at each meal, you’re in an excellent position to meet all your nutritional needs. These food groups provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and beneficial nutritional compounds that will set you up for a healthy mind AND body! If you’re focussed on pumping up these foods in your diet and hitting your daily serves, the science says including the foods we love (and generally cut out) is a-ok!

3. Celebrate all that food can give you, it’s more than a bunch of nutrients after all!

Firstly, we do not believe in ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food. We love that meme of the lady saying ‘Oooo I am so bad for eating cake’ and her friend’s response being ‘FFS Sharon, you are eating a piece of cake not burning down an orphanage!’. It’s freakin’ true! We absolutely acknowledge that not all foods have the same type/level of nutrients but this doesn’t make a food good or bad, just different. And if you focus on all the colour & abundance within your diet (refer to point no 2 we make), then you can also eat foods that you actually enjoy! Food is SO much more than nutrients. Food is a part of our culture- think of baking at your grandmother’s place, family dinners, birthday celebrations, religious holidays or fundraiser BBQs (I’m looking at you Bunnings). So it’s ok to eat for reasons other than nutrients and eat because we enjoy the food and because it brings us pleasure. We’re a chocolate a day kinda gals, and that makes us happy! Sometimes giving yourself unconditional permission to eat certain foods can help take the stress out of eating them in the first place!

If you’d love to keep learning more about how to look after your mind, body and self-confidence during these times we find ourselves in, then we’ve just launched our WIRL Tracker, a daily check in that prompts you to eat, move and think differently. With real-life recipes, mindful meditations, exercises you’ll actually enjoy and loads of learning. It’s a feel-good frenzy and we’d love to have you join us soon!

Your WIRLy friends,

Alicia & Bree, @wellness.in.real.life