Bodybuilders, physique athletes, fitness enthusiasts and dieters all have one thing in common – they can get stuck in mealtime drudgery.
Restricting calories, eating healthy and prepping for a bodybuilding contest can become obsessive and lead to very boring diets. Eating the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day can turn into an unhealthy relationship with food and this is one trap you do not want to fall into.
While more and more studies are being done on our Palaeolithic ancestors, evidence is showing that our modern-day diets are bland in comparison and that variety may be the key to long-term health. Our ancestors ate a diet of 20-25 plant-based foods compared to modern-day humans who struggle to get in their recommended daily dose of 5 servings of fruits and veggies.
While it’s good to have goals and set menus so that you can reach those goals, if you take this way of eating to the extreme, you could be a food restrictor.
A food restrictor is someone who gets more pleasure from reading the nutritional label than they do from eating the food itself. When you first embark upon the path of healthy living, it is important to know what to eat and what not to eat. It is an education process. But over time, you get to know how many calories are in what and which foods are more nutritious than others. The danger lies in the fact that food restrictors are less likely to enjoy social gatherings where food is involved and can experience serious setbacks from just one night of eating foods not on the list.
This condition can become so exaggerated that it can lead to serious eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Food restrictors are prime candidates for eating disorders because they become control freaks about what goes into their body and what doesn’t. So one night out with your buddies and one slice of pizza later, and you find yourself in the washroom wracked with guilt and ready to upchuck the offensive food. Or, you avoid eating altogether the next day to somehow counteract all the bad eating from the day before.
Results from one Canadian study show that 25% of women are guilty of high cognitive dietary restraint – there’s rarely a moment during the day when they don’t think about food and they spend a lot of time poring over what to eat and what not to eat. This state causes inordinate amounts of stress and this 25% of women have high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for weight gain. They may be thinner than their more relaxed counterparts, but the stress is killing them!
So what’s the answer?
Try and relax a little more over food. You are probably well-versed in the calorie content of most foods by now, so rely more on portion control and experiment with a wider variety of foods. Introduce yourself to new foods and educate your palette so you get more pleasure from eating. Break your own rules by switching chicken Thursdays to Saturday. Search the web for new recipes to develop your taste buds and add some zing to your diets. Allow yourself one cheat day per week where you get to taste your favorite restricted food. This will help ease the tension a little and get you into the habit of not feeling so guilty every time you eat something that’s not on the list.
Life’s too short to be worrying about every little last calorie or that one food has more antioxidants than another. Yes, all those things are important, but we are blessed with a huge variety of foods in our supermarkets, not to mention our specialty shops that only sell exotic foods. Break free from the same old boring routine. You’ll find you’re not so stressed out every time food comes into play, you’ll enjoy socializing with your friends and family more and your health will improve as a result.
Originally published @ FITLODE.COM