At work yesterday we were zoning (pulling product forward on the shelf to make it look full and straightening them out so they are in a nice label-out row) in the baby-food section, and the topic turned to the Baby Food Diet. Have you heard of it? It’s something along the lines of you eat a couple of jars of baby food instead of a real meal and you’ll lose weight.

Replacement-shake diets are still in fashion, although the newest trend is to mix up smoothies at home instead of buying them off the shelf in a can.

High-protein, low-carb diets are en vogue, whether they are being called after a person or an era.

There are diets for your heart, to make you younger, cleansing diets, clean diets, nation-specific diets, diets based off of just one food, and on and on. They all promise the same thing. And you know what? They probably do all work insomuch as they will in fact allow you to lose weight if you follow them verbatim.

Essentially, every diet’s secret is low-calorie and a strict schedule. Think about it: When you are NOT on a diet, do you eat whenever you want/get a chance/regardless of whether you are hungry or not/whatever you want or is easiest to grab? Whereas when you ARE following a diet plan, you control yourself and only eat the allowed foods/at the prescribed times?

Now the specific formulas for each diet my make claim about how special they are, such as when you are eating only protein your body has to use up its own energy stores (adipose tissue…fat) so you lose weight fast; however, your body and brain’s main fuel is carbohydrates and depriving your body of carbs for too long alters your body in huge ways (such as the development of ketone bodies, an alteration in mood, a decrease in overall energy). Eating only baby food? Look at how much sugar is in most canned baby food, the lack of fiber and just the blandness of the flavors, plus of course the low low calorie content; the sugar gives you the energy to function on such a calorie-strict plan but the lack of fiber and even chewing can leave you unsatisfied.

How many times have you heard that balance is key? There are certain populations that need to be super-strict in their diets and have to worry about macro- and mirco-nutrient intake. But for you, the everyday athlete, whose mission is to be the healthiest you can be for your family and well-being, you don’t need to focus on ratios and numbers.

Really! YOU DON’T NEED TO FOCUS ON NUMBERS.

Calorie-counting can be a great way for you to get on track if you are completely unaware of your intake levels. But a more effective way–albeit maybe a tricky way—is to balance and be mindful.

We are very, very far removed from our bodies’ natural signals. When was the last time you sat down with a massive bowl of spaghetti at a restaurant—that could serve 4—and devoured the whole thing? When was the last time you wanted cake and only had a satisfying piece without beating yourself up about it and having more than made you satisfied?

Re-training your mind to recognize when your body is satisfied and LISTENING to that signal will take time. It will take you slowing down and acknowledging what it is that your physical body needs; not your mental body, not your emotional body. Your physical body. How much food do you really need to eat to feel energized, satisfied, no longer hungry?

What do you need to eat? Maybe a portion of spaghetti is what you need right now because you are low on energy. Maybe you need some cheese for the calcium and fat (yes, your body needs fat). Maybe you need some chicken for the protein.

Yes, DIEt is a nasty word. They are temporary, they mess with your body (yo-yoing is NOT good for your body), the word itself has a bad vibe.

What works? Listen to your body. How do you feel after eating _____________? How much energy do you have? Do you feel light and ready to tackle your day/evening? Or do you feel sluggish, tired and weighed down?

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