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Eat Like an Adult

This is the cover of the ‘NCCPT certified weight management specialist’. For $199 , you can become a certified weight management specialist just in one day. For those who aren’t well informed, this certification may sound prestigious (‘specialist’) but don’t let it fool you, a one-day course isn’t equivalent to the credentials of a registered dietitian (or a certified sports nutritionist). At best, this certification is equivalent to a week’s worth of a 3 credit class (one week out of a 4-month course). I could continue on, but I digress.

This picture, on a cover of weight management specialist certification, is a poor representation of reality. The picture depicts an ‘all or nothing’ mentality – you’re either eating foods that are highly palatable & caloric dense or you’re eating foods that don’t taste as good and are low in calories. You’re either eating all processed foods or you’re eating fruits and veggies. It’s either or, there is no middle ground. Is this the only way to manage one’s weight? Is this the only way to lose body fat and become healthier? Do you really have to choose? Absolutely not. This type of thinking and diet mentality are both detrimental to long term success, physically and emotionally. No one wants to feel deprived and not being able to enjoy foods they like. No one should feel deprived because there is really no need to practice orthorexia. As I mentioned here, what determines weight loss is your caloric intake. Create a caloric deficit and you’d lose weight. From a body composition perspective, the quantity of your food is more important than the quality of your food. Now, this is not to say you should be eating highly processed, low nutrient density foods only. If you chose to do so, you would feel lethargic, you’d crave more food (and increase your caloric intake), and you’d be deficient in vitamins and minerals that are essential for various bodily functions. In other words, you’d feel like crap. So what should you do? You choose the middle ground. There is another road. It’s called 80/20 dieting. You emphasize caloric intake first and foremost, make healthy foods choices, and allow yourself to eat foods you enjoy eating. 80/20 dieting means ~80% of your diet comes from healthy, minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods, and ~20% comes from whatever-the-hell-you-want.

Food demonization needs to stop. The ‘left road’ isn’t bad. The ‘right road’ isn’t good. No foods are good or bad. Foods don’t have personalities or free will. Foods are consumed and are neutral. Food is meant to be enjoyed and nourish your body. It is you, the grown adult, who needs to be conscientious of your food choices and your diet as a whole. Be mindful of the calories and nutrient density (or lack thereof) of your food. With responsible choices, you can enjoy your salads and cookies too.

I have been anorexic and I have been orthorexic. And what I’ve learned along the years is that being extreme never works for the long run. Extremism only propagates the vicious weight-loss-weight-gain cycle that many of us struggle with and is so hard to break out of. Live the healthy lifestyle, not only physically but mentally as well. Choose to have a flexible mindset with dieting and break out of the cycle. I did it, and so can you.

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