There has been a wave of diet trends for a very long time! Healthy, not healthy, kinda sorta healthy - no matter what type of diet it is, it never seems to really work, right? How many times have we begun a diet only to go back to the same habits we had before, and in some cases even worse habits than before! We feel heavy, defeated, and like we have no self control. It's not an empowered place to be and it creates suffering.
What if I told you, however, that it wasn't the diet that was the problem? What if it was the mindset going into the diet that made all the difference? We could be beating ourselves up for trying and failing at a diet which was never the solution in the first place.
The diet is just a tool we use to help us get from point A to point B. Point A might be losing weight, healing a disease, feeling lighter, having more mobility, preventing an illness, etc. Point B might end up being losing 50lbs, feeling more energetic, not needing any medication, having more physical mobility, not living in chronic pain, etc. All of those reasons are valid, but it's how we think of ourselves prior to starting a diet that might actually make all the difference. Don't get me wrong, some diets just won't work! But you might be choosing that diet out of the wrong frame of mind rather than actual results.
One of the things I have noticed is that most people going on diets have a pretty negative view of themselves and their bodies when they choose to begin. They don't like the way they look, they hate the way they feel, and they compare themselves to others to the point of self-degradation. This is the mindset they apply during the diet and inevitably the diet begins to fail them. Why?
Because your happiness is not derived from an external source like food or a good-looking body. Happiness begins by loving yourself as you are right now.
This is true for everything else, as well. You cannot place your happiness at Point B, it has to start at Point A. Yes, I hear you that this is easier said than done! But trust me. You must begin loving the body you have before you can begin to transform it.
Accept yourself as a whole and beautiful being and watch your body transform from there.
As soon as you begin loving yourself, that's when your actions and eating habits begin to evolve into more loving ones. A person who loves themselves wholeheartedly is very mindful of what they put into their bodies to keep them healthy. For instance, most people know that smoking cigarettes is extremely bad for not only their health, but the health of those near them (secondhand smoke). Therefore, they actively choose not to smoke as a result. Consider this: There is no disconnect between you as a being and you as a body. As such, you are completely aligned with your whole spirit and you can begin to create habits that are rooted in that connectivity.
This can be done if you feel sick, unhealthy, or even in pain. Finding acceptance is the best way to begin this process. If you do not accept your body - and in turn yourself - for what it is, then transformation becomes stagnant. Your body is what it is, why not love it now?! Even if it seems dysfunctional and uncomfortable, your body is working for you. It breathes to keep you alive, it pumps blood to keep you moving, and it fights disease regardless of whether it's winning that fight or not! Your body is an incredibly intelligent structure and you can love it for that, unconditionally.
The mindset you hold determines the amount of success you will experience to a large extent. Negative thoughts produce negative results, and in yoga practice we know this to be true. Studies have even proven this to be the case, including the water experiment by Dr Emoto. Thoughts have vibrational frequency and that frequency affects you on a molecular level.
If you are constantly telling yourself, "I'm worthless", that energy is affecting the body. In the same way that you might tell yourself, "I am so grateful for this body", the very real vibration of that statement will determine how the body functions and prospers.
Meditation, affirmation, mantra, and Yoga are all effective ways to get your mindset on the right track. Using these tools for even just 5-15 minutes every day will have a profound effect. Every time you find yourself thinking a negative thought, try and catch yourself; not to force the thought to stop, but rather, to create awareness of it and in turn begin a more compassionate frame of mind.
Begin to notice if you have habitual patterns around your mood and food. Your emotional state might be dictating the types of foods you're eating. Perhaps salty foods call to you when you're stressed, sweet foods when you're emotional, fried foods when you're depressed, and spicy foods when you're worked up about something.
Notice that your eating habits may have a lot to do with your culture, education, and upbringing. Maybe you eat a certain way to feel accepted socially, or you've always eaten a certain way so you just don't really know anything else. Meet all of these realizations with compassion and patience. No need to create more negative thoughts for yourself simply because you notice something you didn't know before.
Try not to look at food as good and bad. Just notice your choices in relation to your mood, situation, culture, and so on.
After some time of mindful awareness, you might notice that your habits begin to change and evolve. You might choose to eat more fresh foods, drink more water, and feel more vibrant. You might notice yourself choosing to avoid food when your mood changes and instead practice yoga, go for a run or walk, or chat with a friend.
None of those things have anything to do with dieting, but everything to do with your state of mind. If you do decide to try a new diet, it will be from a place of love, not negativity. The diet you choose will be more well thought out and you will do more research before you begin to make sure it's backed by science and sounds safe.