I would bet that most of you reading this will have had, or even still have, a restrictive mindset. I definitely had one in the past, this was because of the fitness industry, producing this aspect of what healthy eating had to look like; it had to be clean, it had to be homemade. It had to be the chicken and broccoli or chicken and rice, only natural foods, all of these things organic and 100% natural. Using all of these terms gives you a negative mindset towards other foods. We’ve talked about this plenty of times, looking at the idea in of good versus bad foods and how to overcome that.
This restrictive mindset, definitely plays alongside this mindset of good versus bad because when people look to lose weight, they look to think about everything that they shouldn’t be eating. They think about all of the foods that they think they are bad, so they think “I shouldn’t be eating chocolate”, “I shouldn’t be having pizza”, “I shouldn’t have alcohol”, “I shouldn’t have this”, “I shouldn’t have that”. Because I’m on a diet and that food isn’t good for me.
This restrictive mindset is what’s causing you to fail, it’s causing you to be stuck in this cycle unsure of where to go next. You want to eat healthier, but because you’re being so restrictive you yo yo between two extremes, either eating really really nutrient dense foods, not eating any kind of junk food whatsoever or then yo yo to the option of just eating junk food eating like a complete and utter tit and not getting any nutrients in whatsoever. So we’ve got two absolutes here, two extreme ends of the spectrum.
Real life is very much lived within the middle, within the grey area, the unsexy grey. It’s the unsexy moderation, the unsexy compromise, that’s going to allow you to lose weight for good, keep it off for life and be healthy for years to come. It requires you to get in love, fall in love with this sexy unsexy middle ground. And just because you might be going through a weight loss phase at the moment, and you therefore need to eat fewer calories than you expend, you know this now that it requires a calorie deficit for you to lose weight. It doesn’t mean that you need to be restrictive of certain foods, and I aim for all of my clients to fit in the foods that they enjoy both with home prep foods, takeaways, chocolate bars, alcohol, things like that. You need to be able to fit in these higher calorie foods, while you’re losing weight. Because if you don’t, and you avoid them and you restrict them, you will always have this restrictive mindset, these foods will always have power over you and you won’t be able to overcome them.
Then when you attempt to return to maintenance, you’ll find this transition very difficult, because it involves getting off of this diet and eating these foods again. You find yourself in that on/off diet mentality, thinking “oh, great, the diet is done so I can go back to eating normally”. You want your dietary pattern, your dietary habits to maintain after you’ve stopped being within a deficit, so the deficit itself is temporary, the habits that you employ and the dietary eating pattern that you employ is the long term game. This is what we need to buy ourselves into.
So to overcome the restrictive mindset you need to understand the difference between restriction and restraint. Just because you may need to eat fewer calories in order to lose weight, doesn’t mean you need to restrict yourself of certain foods. It’s about finding the balance between eating the foods that you enjoy, eating junk food and having alcohol and living life while still reaching the goals that you intend for yourself.