Self-Aware Nutrition

Self-Aware Nutrition is the Goal

How many diets have you survived? I can name five without hesitation. Of those diets, not one 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 spend another dollar on the diet industry, (or feel like a failure), by following self-aware nutrition.
Many of us find it difficult to shut off the outside noise. The diet industry counts on us being out of touch with our intuition and self-awareness. They sell us noise and confusion. The industry knows how to get into our heads. A huge part of their job is convincing us that we’re not enough. There’s always a new level of skinny or sexy to achieve. They understand that we’re used to looking for solutions outside of ourselves. There they are like a caring friend, offering us their latest miracle.

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, our butt-to-gut ratio should be as important as our careers, family, and overall fulfillment. The vanity factor is an undeniable motivation for many of us.  However, there are reasons beyond wearing a bikini to focus on diet and nutrition.

Self-Awareness Makes Nutrition Specific

Self-Aware nutrition is specific to your body.

Self-Aware nutrition is specific to your body.

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 specifics. Their personalized approach to nutrition and fitness fuels self-awareness.

Most of Malissa’s clients deal with weight loss issues. “They convince themselves that they have a slow metabolism”. 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. We can all relate to how easy it is to underestimate what we eat.

She admitted that those conversations can be uncomfortable. Presenting clients with irrefutable facts, they must accept accountability for their weight-loss 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 diet and nutrition.

Beware: Many social media fitness and nutrition influencers are selling unrealistic expectations to get you to buy their products.

Beware: Many social media fitness and nutrition influencers are selling unrealistic expectations to get you to buy their products.

Take Your Power Back With Self-Aware Nutrition

With countless celebrity and influencer-endorsed diets comes shakes, bars, pills, frozen meals, and meal delivery services, offering us convenience. There’s nothing wrong with a little help. However, it keeps us in the palm of the diet industry’s hands and creates a negative narrative about ourselves. Here’s how.

First, it reinforces the idea that there’s a sexy shortcut (usually almost overnight). As much as I enjoy weight training, I unfollowed many Instagram fitness influencers, realizing what they’re peddling. I respect the discipline it takes to achieve a stage-worthy physique.  What I can’t deal with (nor should you), are those saying that their results are from simple 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 look like that year-round, have had cosmetic surgeries, and more. They sell us envy to drive us to the sales page of the products they get a commission on. They know damn well that they’ve been at it rigorously for years. But we can have it in a month!

We get so stuck on the end result that we miss the personal growth and good habits we pick up along the journey.

We get so stuck on the end result that we miss the personal growth and good habits we pick up along the journey.

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 journey we’re in such a rush to avoid is precisely where we experience the most significant personal growth.

Keep us Coming Back For More

The second way it keeps us reliant on the diet industry 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 training. Three years ago, I took an intuitive approach to eating. My first meal is about 10 AM. I rarely eat past 6 PM. Not only did the frequent binging stop, but I also had more energy and clarity all day. The wildly popular intermittent fasting was something I felt compelled to do decades ago. I hesitated for decades, believing the diet and nutrition industry knew better than I did.

Another example is the idea of scheduling deliberate cheat days. Many people I work with notice that scheduling cheat days (intended to make dieting less restrictive), often trigger binge eating. They can snowball into days or weeks of overindulgence. I splurge when I need it. If I go a month without needing a splurge, that’s cool. If I need a few splurges in a week, I go with it in a controlled way. Purposefully splurging when we don’t feel the need can be a recipe for dietary disaster.

The Diet Industry Wreaks Havoc on Your Self-Talk

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 failed you? What are some of the 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 were still hungry.

Gaining extra weight back isn't the only danger in our perceived diet failures.

Gaining extra weight back isn’t the only danger in our perceived diet failures.

There’s the negative self-talk that uses humor to make us feel like our goal isn’t that important. “Who wants to be skinny when carbs are life”? Then there’s the brutal, ugly self-talk that doesn’t give a damn about our psyche. No matter how our negative self-talk attacks us for our dietary failures, the outcome is the same.

We remain in patterns of negative self-talk. We repeat how unworthy, incapable, and unmotivated we are. It reinforces the idea that we need them. This false narrative affects us in ways we can’t imagine. Increasing our self-awareness offers clarity and belief in ourselves to see the full picture. We’re not failing ourselves. Much of the diet and nutrition industry is failing us in the contradicting “facts”, messaging, and unrealistic promises.

Self-Awareness Exposes the Emotional Side of Diet and Nutrition

Most of the people I work with don’t approach me 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 informed healthy adjustments. Some false truths we buy into in the diet and nutrition industry include falsehoods such as we must avoid carbs to lose weight. High fat is healthy. Low fat is healthy. Avoiding mixing certain food groups at the same meal leads to weight loss.

When you look at it, the advice is all over the place. The fact that a wildly popular current trend usually contradicts the previous over-hyped trend 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 my book, I often see similar connections in how 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 celebratory, we may also binge eat under the same emotional circumstances.

Self-awareness addresses our unique emotional attachments to food.

Self-awareness addresses our unique emotional attachments to food.

If you’re like me, many of your happiest memories revolve around gathering 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. Surprisingly, these two opposite memories can result in the same way of abusing food. Our over-indulgences often provide something we need or want beyond nutrition. Self-soothing, comfort, a means of celebration, escape, and compensation for all sorts of unknowns are just a few examples. These patterns continue until we increase self-awareness and fully address them.

Benefit From the Diet and Nutrition Industries With Self-Awareness

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.

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