Fad diets and weight loss regiments are everywhere. Many are enticed by catchy slogans and alluring promises to “lose 10 pounds in 10 days!” or “watch the weight melt off!” We are a culture that values being thin over being healthyand many will take potentially dangerous and untested pills and products just to take a few inches off their waistline.
The problem with these methods is that while the weight may come off initially, it rarely stays off. Why? Because true health and lasting change happens from the inside out and starts with changing your relationship with food-not counting calories or consuming preservative and artificial sweetener filled “diet foods.” In fact, if you see a food on your grocery isle making big claims in bold letters like “Low Fat!” or “Only 25 calories per serving!” keep walking friend. Real food-the kind that nurtures and brings balance and healing to your body has no need to boast or entice you. A stock of celery or a freshly picked apple does not require clever marketing-their bright colors and beauty speak for themselves.
Dr. Ed Bauman created a wonderful system that enables us to understand our current relationship with food and empowers us to exercise greater intention and awareness surrounding mealtime. This system breaks down our relationship with food into four levels:
1. Eating for pleasure-this is the most impulsive approach to eating and focuses solely on the immediate gratification and pleasure your food choices can offer and gives no attention to nutritional content. Lots of pizza, doughnuts, candy, and soda are consumed at this level.
2. Eating for energy-in this stage, subsiding hunger is the main goal, and often
carbohydrate and sugar rich convenient foods are chosen as quick fixes for bringing blood sugar up and gaining energy. This level of eating is likely to be highly acidic and allergy inducing with pasta, burritos, energy drinks, and cereals as staples.
3. Eating for recovery-The two levels of eating above inevitably bring people to level three, eating for recovery. Decades of poor dietary habits leave a malnourished and tired body unable to cope, and as a result people end up obese, diabetic, and struggling with a myriad of symptoms and disease processes. At this level, people gravitate towards fad diets and weight loss regiments I mentioned above. Some of these include Weight Watchers, extreme calorie restriction, and unbalanced macro-nutrient trends like “Low-fat” or ketosis. This way of eating is impossible to sustain long term and many end up burnt out and go back to level one, eating for pleasure.
4. Eating for health: Level four is where we should all aspire to be, as it is centered around a lifelong pursuit of the healing power of foods, the ever changing needs of our bodies, and an intentional approach to food choices that values nutrient density over convenience and also takes into account the environmental impacts of the food you eat. At this level you choose a wide array of organic whole foods that are sourced seasonally and locally when possible.
What level of eating best describes you? Let me know in the comments below! Not where you want to be, I can help!