Week 2: Choose your diet method

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Intuitive Dieting is a combination of using Intuitive Eating principles and dieting methods to achieve weight loss and reconnect with our bodies’ natural messages. The purpose of the dieting method is to create the calorie deficit needed to lose weight, this is usually done by applying some form of portion control. 

It is very important to understand that this is NOT about going on a fad diet, or using medication to suppress our appetite. One thing that is rarely mentioned when people talk about weight loss is that our bodies - not our minds - actually don’t want a lot of food if we are very overweight or obese. Our body wants us to be at our natural weight and if we are way above that then it wants us to eat less so that it can get to its natural weight.

The problem is that over years and decades we have learned to ignore those messages and are used to eating far beyond our bodies’ natural satiation point. Even worse, we say we love food and that we feel hungry all the time and that it takes a lot of food for us to feel full. But this is actually an illusion, this is our minds - who want to comfort and protect us - playing tricks on us. Also, if you eat a lot of processed foods then yes, you will feel hungry more often which is your body’s way of crying out for the nutrition you are not giving it. 

My dieting method is my tool, not my master.

All of these behaviors are not changed easily overnight. They are patterns that are deeply ingrained in us and often supported by our environment as well with its ready availability of fast convenience foods, as well as bigger portions everywhere and a culture that has become very food focussed. Digging deep into the core of whatever it is that causes us to turn to food for comfort can be difficult and unsettling – and the resistance monster will rear its ugly head on a regular basis and try and send us straight back into the arms of Ben & Jerry. Those are the times when the dieting part of our program becomes really important and when, for instance, tracking our food can help us not fall back into old habits. The structure provided by this external piece of our program supports us while we do the internal work that is needed for making lasting healthier changes.

Week 2 Prompt: Choose Your Dieting Method

There are many healthy ways to restrict our portions and create the required calorie deficit. Here is a list the most common ones, if you are doing something that is not mentioned here feel free to share in the comments or the group.

1. Calorie Counting

This is my preferred method as it does not restrict what I eat, only how much. It affords me the most flexibility with regards to my food choices and apps like LoseIt (that’s what I use) or MyFitnessPal make tracking really easy.

There is another side effect that I really like about calorie counting: it teaches me to be more present and to enjoy cooking. I used to really stress over preparing a meal from scratch while weighing and counting out the ingredients. However, when I started calorie counting as part of I.D. I noticed a rather surprising side effect: if - rather than rushing through it - I took enough time to prepare my ingredients before cooking them I could not only easily weigh and log them, I actually enjoyed the process of cooking a lot more!

2. Weight Watchers

Instead of calories you count points and on their new program they also have a lot of free foods which can potentially make this very easy. There are many opinions out there regarding Weight Watchers but a lot of people seem to do very well on it because you not only learn to eat healthier but you also get a lot of accountability and emotional support. I did look at Weight Watchers but in the end I didn’t want to learn a new system and decided to stick with what I already knew.

3. Intermittent Fasting

This has become very popular and there are various methods. 5:2 where you fast on two days a week, or 16/8 where you only eat during an 8-hour window every day, or alternate-day fasting where you fast every other day. Fasting as a concept, of course, has been around for centuries, and you can find a wealth of information on it these days. Google it or search for it on Facebook, there are many IF support groups out there. I actually do my own modified version of IF because of my husband who is doing the 5:2. On his fasting days (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays) I have breakfast and lunch but no dinner. He is not asking me to do this but I want to support him in his efforts and I am actually finding that those two skipped meals every week are really helping me as well.

4. Low/No Carb Diets

These have been very popular for years now and range from cutting out carbs altogether, like Paleo and Keto, or taking a more moderate approach of simply cutting down. Generally speaking I am weary of diets that cut out whole food groups or encourage high consumption of certain elements, like fat. I understand about ketosis and all of that but to me this is just not a sustainable long-term way of eating. Having said that, I think low carb can work really well for people who are used to eating lots of processed foods which tend to be high carb, in this case they benefit from eating more fresh and unaltered foods.

The only approach that’s ever made sense to me in this respect is the blood-type diet, it would certainly explain why so many people respond well to Paleo as that is the preferred diet for Type O’s which is the most common blood-type. But I am obviously not a doctor or nutritionist and ultimately I think this is a very personal choice and one where you really have to listen to your body and not the media hype. If your body feels good on a low carb diet then go with that as chances are that you are also reducing your calorie intake this way. 

5. FDH

This is German and stands for “Friss Die Hälfte” = Eat Half. And it works! If you are able to leave food on the plate, that is. Which is not easy for many of us, either because we’ve been taught to eat up (“think of those starving kids in Africa”) or because we don’t like to waste food (I have a hard time with this) or simply because it tastes good and we don’t want to stop. But if no other method appeals to you and you don’t want to count things or cut out certain foods, try it for a month. It can be very effective.

6. A Plan of Sorts

This is basically where you make up your own plan. For instance any one or a combination of these:

  • No sugar or alcohol during the week

  • Only one carb/starch meal per day

  • Meal plan and stick to it

  • No eating after 6pm

  • Minimum 10,000 steps a day

  • Etc etc

What you end up choosing comes down to your own personal preferences, lifestyle and environment. Some people like a LOT of structure, others as little as possible. Personally I think we all benefit from some structure, otherwise it just becomes a free-fall back into the old habits. So make a plan for yourself, add a visual tracker in your journal and…

… start making your plan important. every. day.