Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Or so some people seem to think. These people fail to treat food as fuel for the human body. Who are we kidding? MOST of us fail to see food as mere fuel for the body. Whether we like to admit it or not; we all have turned to food for comfort, especially during moments when life generally seems to be letting us down.
Food indulgence and the problems caused by it are considered as chronic an epidemic as starvation and malnutrition all over the world. Urban India is silently being invaded by the former even as it desperately fights to diminish the latter. Presently, the world is very busy fat shaming. As such, it is not surprising that being lean and for some women (being waif like thin) commands platinum status among social stereotypes associated with physical appeal. Lean is in. Thin is desirable. People may fail to identify virtue, but no amount of strategic dressing can hide your fat, if you have a lot of it all over your body. Hence, people judge. Often brutally.
Verbal bashing has become so commonplace that people with fragile self esteem or poor body image who consciously seek social acceptance undertake extreme measures in the hope of magically transforming themselves overnight. Crash dieting is one such practice. Nutritionists might have cried themselves hoarse claiming that any weight lost during a crash diet comes back once normal diet is resumed. But, nutritional insight falls weak in the face of social anxiety that often spurs some people into one kind of crash diet or the other.
A survey conducted in early 2014 by a British company, Nakd Wholefoods, confirmed that crash diets have unhappy endings; summed up in regained weight coupled with lost friends. About two thirds of the friends, colleagues and partners of dieters find them annoying enough to deliberately avoid them. A quarter of the people, surprisingly mostly men, in the survey even admitted to attempts to sabotage their friends’ diets.
But, leaving aside picky eaters and food hating extremists are a huge number of people who are genuinely struggling to control alcohol intake and befriend fruits and vegetables over processed food.
Establishing healthy habits requires a little sacrifice in terms of fighting temptations and cravings. One needs to constantly remind oneself that you are making changes for a better version of YOU. The pain of self-discipline should not, however, become a matter of huge suffering for your friends and family.
Attaining balance in life is an on-going process. Start refining your diet with small and simple changes. The following ground rules should help ensure that cleaning up your act does not wipe your social life into non-existence.
- Stop beating yourself up!
Eating out with friends is meant to create happy memories. Happy memories do not include complaining about your fat thighs. If all your feasts are going to be summed up by guilt of how you should not have eaten all that food; you just ruined the meal for everyone. Don’t be a party pooper. Skimp on indulgence before and after the party. Not at it.
- Count calories – Only NOT aloud!
Creating a daily calorie deficit does require one to maintain an estimate of daily food consumption. But, don’t fool yourself into thinking that it is a mind blowing subject for conversation and everybody else would like to hear more about it. Maintain a diary for tracking calories. That is the only place where you should get liberal with details.
- Don’t start bullying others over food choices
Dieting individually can sometimes make you feel grumpy and miserable. It is easier to stick to a new plan with social support. But, don’t get others into it through belittling remarks like “Should you really be eating that?” You will only make them feel bad and like you less.
- After kilos lost, there will still be other problems!
Losing kilos can feel liberating and improve self image. But don’t expect it to automatically heal the rest of your life. If you are a yo-yo dieter, you need to dig deeper to understand the emotional triggers behind your binges. Either there are other problems in your life that need your attention or you need more realistic meal plans.
- Join a group activity
Taking up a physically intense leisurely pursuit, like a dance or defense class will let you bond with a group of people without having the breath to obsess over calorie count or macro nutrients. Sometimes over thinking makes the job much harder and healthy eating can end up feeling like a chore. Consume pre-planned meals but don’t keep thinking about them.
- Stop obsessing over the scales!
Your personality and fitness is defined by a lot more than just a number that you see on the weighing machine. Sure, your vital statistics, BMI, body fat percentage is essential information that provides perspective on how far away you are from your ideal measurements. But, try and break down your achievements into smaller milestones like 30 coke-free days, 10 minutes of continuous running without going out of breath, all the exercises you are able to do with ease that you could not do earlier etc.
The stubborn numbers on the scale will have to give in once you start enjoying your persevering journey rather than impatiently wait for the end.