Self-Aware Nutrition is the Goal
How many diets have you survived? I can name five without hesitation. Of those diets, not one (in its entirety) has been a game-changer. In fact, the one thing that’s made every aspect of my life including fitness and nutrition easier is self-awareness. Read on to find out why you don’t have to fork another dollar over to the diet and nutrition industry or feel like a failure at another diet, by following self-aware nutrition.
Clearly, a common problem we share is our inability to shut off the outside noise. The diet and nutrition industry is one of the most profitable, in our face, sources of noise and confusion. This industry successfully gets into our heads, creating the idea that we’re not enough. There’s always a new level of skinny and athletic ability to achieve.
With all of our kick-ass achievements, we receive daily reminders that we must physically keep up with the Kardashians (and every other beauty icon popular culture puts onto a pedestal). Apparently, we need to worry about our butt-to-gut ratio, along with our other loftier goals.
Self-Awareness Makes Nutrition Specific
Recently in my interview on the Nutrition Revolution podcast, I had a great exchange with Malissa Dunnings, Co-Founder, and COO of Composition ID Global. At their Houston location, they provide testing to measure your lean mass, bone density, V02 max, hormones, and other specific stats, to approach your nutrition and fitness is a highly self-aware manner.
Malissa told me that she often gets clients coming to her for weight loss issues, proclaiming that they have a slow metabolism (as though a fact in their mind). When she runs her testing, they actually have normal, even above normal metabolism. Malissa states that when this occurs, the person’s caloric consumption is likely around the 3k daily mark (clearly not the fault of metabolism).
She admitted that those conversations can be uncomfortable. Presenting clients with irrefutable facts, they must accept accountability for their weightloss struggles. So, should we be paying attention to our nutrition and fitness? Absolutely, but self-awareness should play a major role in how we approach nutrition.
Take Your Power Back With Self-Aware Nutrition
With countless celebrity-endorsed diets comes the piggy-backing of products like shakes, bars, pills, frozen meals, and fresh meal delivery services, offering us convenience by making it easier to adhere to that diet. While there’s nothing wrong with a little convenience, it not only keeps us in the palm of the diet and nutrition industry’s hands but perpetuates a negative narrative about ourselves.
First, it reinforces the idea that there’s a sexy shortcut (usually almost overnight). As much as I enjoy weight training, I’ve unfollowed many Instagram fitness influencers after realizing what they’re peddling. I admire and respect the discipline it takes to achieve a flaunt-worthy chiseled physique. What I can’t deal with (nor should you) are the influencers perpetuating the idea that their results are simply from once-daily workouts and supplements.
The details many fail to disclose are that they hit the gym twice daily, adhere to unimaginably restrictive diets, work closely with a coach, don’t necessarily look like that year-round, have had aesthetic surgeries, and more. They sell us envy, to drive us to the sales page of the products they market (with their discount code), knowing damn well that they’ve been at it rigorously for years. But we can have it in a month!
Well, you can’t have it in a month, nor should you want it in a month. You can have progress, and progress is the most addictive natural high around (you can keep your chocolate, and even sex thanks very much). Don’t set yourself up to miss out on the small wins and flops as they both take us deeper into self-awareness when we’re paying attention.
The second detrimental way it keeps us reliant on the diet and nutrition industry and thinking negatively about ourselves is by turning us away from our intuition. For example, I’ve never been a breakfast person, but because of the industry repeating “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” I reluctantly forced breakfast down. For decades I also battled ravenous binge eating episodes that would kick in around 5-7 in the evening.
My weight was up and down, despite my love of lifting weights and sweating. About three years ago, I became inspired to take an intuitive approach to my eating. I typically have my first meal at around noon and don’t eat past 6 in the evening. Not only did the frequent urge to binge stop, but I had more energy and clarity throughout my day. The now wildly popular way of eating for weight loss (intermittent fasting) was something I felt compelled to do decades ago. I hesitated to practice self-aware nutrition back then, believing the nutrition industry (often with a one size fits all approach) knew my body better than I did.
Another example of this is the idea of scheduling deliberate cheat days. Many people I’ve worked with realize that scheduled cheat days (intended to make dieting less restrictive), often trigger binge eating, snowballing into days or weeks of overindulgence. My approach is to splurge when I need it. If I go a month without a splurge, that’s cool. If I need a few splurges in a week, I go with it in a controlled way (intermittent fasting serves me well when getting a grip on those types of weeks). Purposefully splurging when we don’t feel the need can be a recipe for dietary disaster.
The third way that the diet and nutrition industry keeps us reliant on them and in a cycle of negative thought is the most significant. How many diets have you tried? How many diets have you failed? What are some of the hurtful, damaging insults your negative self-talk hurled at you in those moments of defeat? Maybe you ate more carbs than you were supposed to. Perhaps you had an emotionally triggered binge. Maybe after a meal replacement shake, you ate out of hunger anyway.
There’s the negative self-talk that tries to use humor to comfort us by faking that our failure doesn’t bother us, “Who wants to be a skinny bitch when carbs are life”? Then there’s the brutal, ugly self-talk that doesn’t give a damn about our psyche saying things like “you disgusting fat pig.” No matter what angle our negative self-talk attacks us from in our dietary failures, the outcome is the same. More negative self-talk, reminders of how unworthy, incapable, and unmotivated we are. This false narrative that the diet and nutrition industries set us up for weighs us down in ways we can’t imagine. Increasing our self-awareness allows us the clarity and belief in ourselves to see that we’re not failing ourselves, but much of the diet and nutrition industry is failing us.
Self-Awareness Exposes the Emotional Side of Diet and Nutrition
Most of the people I work with don’t approach me initially for weight loss advice. However, they discover that increasing their self-awareness exposes patterns, false truths, and self-limiting beliefs. Once they see these issues clearly, they can make healthy adjustments. Some false truths we buy into in the diet and nutrition industry include falsehoods such as we must drastically cut carbs to lose weight, high fat is healthy, low fat is healthy, cycling high and low carb days keep your body guessing. When you look at it, the advice is all over the place. The mere fact that wildly popular trends that directly contradict each other become touted as the last diet we’ll ever need speaks volumes on how fickle the industry is. Is the issue really that we can’t follow a map, or is the problem that the map looks like a confused five-year-old drew it?
Though I don’t dive into personal finance in this book, I often see similar connections in the ways we tend to abuse both money and food when we lack self-awareness. For example, just as we may run up high credit card bills when feeling anxious, depressed, or accomplished, we may also be triggered to binge eat under the same emotional circumstances.
If you’re like me, many of your happiest memories, such as Sunday dinners and holidays revolve around gathering with loved ones around food. Conversely, we also had more difficult times where our father would tell us to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. These two opposite memories can surprisingly result in the same way of abusing our finances and food. Our indulgences often provide self-soothing, comforting, a means of celebration, and compensation for all sorts of unknowns until we build our self-awareness and address them.
Benefit From the Diet and Nutrition Industries With Self-Awareness
We all know the basics of what we should eat and what we should limit. There’s a degree of consciousness when we approach the point of stuffing ourselves, as we tend to undo a button on our pants or even give an audible “ugh” to ourselves. I’d bet that unless there’s an underlying medical issue, we have all that we need to be successful in achieving basic good health and nutrition if we’re self-aware.
Is it OK to use a shake to curb hunger or for convenience? Yes. Is there anything wrong with buying a few nutrition bars to replace your usual chemical shit-storm treat? No. There’s also nothing wrong with eating when you’re hungry and not eating when you’re not hungry. Are you wrong to eat fewer carbs? Not at all. As long as you’re using self-awareness to decide what bits and pieces work for you, you’re doing great. Are you using self-awareness for nutrition? How will you incorporate more self-awareness into diet and nutrition?
Want to discover how self-awareness leads to fulfillment in other aspects of your life? Grab this post.