Pursue What Matters
Episode 224: Self-Leadership and Eating Mindfully
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Did you know the quality of your eating can impact your effectiveness at home and work? Perhaps you know it’s important to get something to eat and you even know that what you eat matters. But did you know that how you eat makes a big difference as well? Join me to learn more
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:36
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So I hope you’re enjoying your summer, right, we’re right in the middle of a series focus on our mission for the podcast, which is helping you to thrive in love and work. So we’ve been learning all about curiosity, how it is your secret weapon, when it comes to thriving in love and work. And we’ve been focusing on helping you to have a secure foundation. So I like acronyms. Both of those words are acronyms. And so right now we’re just finishing up the acronym secure. So if you haven’t tuned in to recent podcasts, definitely check those out. So as a reminder, secure is all about those non negotiable minimum requirements for coping well. So these are things you must have in place in order to thrive. And so as a reminder, S is for spirituality, E is for exercise, C is for creativity. U is for unplugging, R is renewal, and today we’re talking about eat, which is all about eating mindfully. So every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead in one of three areas. So helping you lead to clarity, which is all about connecting you to purpose, helping you to lead with curiosity, which is all about this self awareness and self leadership that we’re focusing on now. And then helping you to lead and build community. And so let’s jump right in. With the Podcast.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:19
Today, we’re going to focus on four key things. First, we’re going to help you overcome the diet mentality. We live in a diet culture. And so we can have all sorts of beliefs that are incorrect and certainly unhelpful as part of that diet mentality or diet culture. And so we want to challenge some of those thoughts. For your well being a second, we’re going to talk about some signs of unbalanced eating. So you can just kind of do a little check in with yourself and see how you’re doing. We’ll also talk about some of the balanced eating basics. So we’re not going to do anything too complicated, but do want to make sure you have some basic guidelines to help you. And then we’re going to finish up just a little bit by focusing on benefits of intuitive eating. So Intuitive Eating is often used interchangeably with mindful eating, they’re not exactly the same concept. But for our purposes, today, we’re really going to be focusing on eating mindfully. So developing awareness, not only about what you eat, but how you eat. And that’s the territory of mindful eating. And then Intuitive Eating is a specific approach to eating that really, is very much aligned with mindful eating. And it really helps you to, to tune into those body cues, so that you understand what your body needs, and you can fuel your body accordingly. And so let’s jump right in with overcoming the diet mentality.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:52
So we’re going to start by taking a look at the diet mentality and helping you to overcome that. So how many like a diet? There’s that there’s never a more miserable person than a person on a diet. So there’s a paradox though, right? Dieting is a real paradox. So the first paradox is we hate diets, and yet we flocked to them. The second paradox is that diet succeed, and diets fail. And the third paradox is that we’ve dieted our way to an obesity epidemic. So that’s that’s kind of crazy. Let’s unpack these paradoxes just a little bit more. So the first one, we hate diets, and yet we flocked to them. So what do you think of when you hear the word diet? If you’re like most people, you may be groaning inside. We don’t like diets, and there’s a good reason for that. As humans, we’re not meant to be diet restricted. We don’t function optimally. And diets kick up experiences of deprivation and scarcity, and they’re just pretty miserable.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:59
So why do we flock to them? So the diet industry is a $70 billion industry is probably is probably bigger than not. I haven’t checked those numbers in a little bit. But it’s a huge industry and people are always on new diets. There’s a huge diet craze going on right now with some prescription medication, you probably know someone who is on it. And there’s always a new kid on the block promising amazing results. And so, you know, back to the question, if dieting is so miserable, why do we continue to flock to them? So, you know, there can be a lot of reasons one can be social pressure, right? We live in a diet culture. And so there is an expectation that if there’s a diet, and if it could work, you should do it. We also, you know, have a pretty messed up relationship with food, access to food, where, you know, there’s plenty of us that are overfeed overfed, right, and so we’ve lost touch with our satiety cues. And there’s so much, so much easily accessible food that doesn’t require much effort. And so it can kind of mess with some of our, our cueing around satiety. We also write the drive to diets can also be a lot about control, we want to be in control of our bodies. And with ourselves and control the body is seen as a substitute for control of yourself. And of course, we live in a culture with that really idolizes the thin ideal. And so there’s a, there’s a lot of judgment for folks if they don’t fit that than ideal, and yet, hardly anyone. That’s that thin ideal. And so often, diets can be an attempt at a sense of control, it can be used to help us feel better about ourselves to help get our eating back in order. But diets are a real problem, which takes us to our second paradox, which is that diets succeed and diets fell.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:01
So the only problem is that dieting itself wreaks havoc on our bodies and our psyches. So you know that it’s important to acknowledge that in the short term diets work like you will definitely lose weight. And this is one of the ways that we kind of get hooked by the diet contagion is that we see other people on diets, and we see that it works. And we jump on that bandwagon. But it’s really just in the short term. Diets are not sustainable, long term. And it diets are in opposition to a very human need around around helping us to be nourished. And so when we have the restricted or the restraint, eating over time, it says it sets us up for a rebound weight gain. It messes up our metabolism. So our metabolisms slow down to a crawl. And then you know, when you try to shift out of the extreme diet mode, which is again, not sustainable, even if you’re still being quite structured with your eating, it’s very easy to gain weight. And that’s because of that metabolic effect of diets. And so, but of course, right, there’s a huge engine running the diet industry.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:21
And so if a diet fells, it’s very often put on the person, right, that the individual is the failure, it couldn’t be the diet, it’s it must be you, which you know, keeps people stuck in a negative cycle of self blame, shame, and so making yourself even more vulnerable to the next diet craze that will come. And then the third paradox is, we have dieted our way to an obesity epidemic. And so this is again related to the metabolic impact. But in a very real way, we’ve dieted our ways to higher weights, because this reduction of calories has a more severe impact on metabolism. And so your metabolism slows down as a protective mechanism against starvation and potential malnutrition. And in this way, the human body is so amazing. But right diets work because it’s true that you can lose weight on a diet, people do it every single day. But diets fail because it is also true that 95% of dieters will regain the lost weight within one year of weight loss. So it doesn’t even take that long. And they never just regain the weight that they lost. Almost always there’s a five to 10% Bonus added to that and that’s because of that metabolic effect. And so if you lost 20 pounds, at the end of the year you can expect to be up by about 20 to 25 pounds. And so the more diet you go on, the more weight you’re likely to gain over the course of your life. That’s one of the reasons we talk about yo yo dieting. But it’s never just back to where you were before the diet, it there’s, there’s an overshoot, because your body is trying to protect you and the metabolism has been slowed down.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:26
So we definitely want to be careful about that. The other thing that we want to pay attention to when we consider diet culture or the diet mentality is so I’m really trying to make a case that that diets don’t work. So while diets can be successful in the short term, there’s still an open question on the success rate, or failure rate of diets. So diets generally have a very low success rate for anything past a year, based on what I said earlier. And so when we think about overcoming the diet mentality, we really want to focus on sustainable lifestyle changes that target nutrition and activity, think about Slow and steady wins the race, balanced eating that isn’t overly restrictive, seems to be the most reasonable approach. So you know, we’re targeting nutrition and activity. And we want to avoid diets, quick fixes, and sustainable approaches. If you hear of the latest extreme diet. Ask yourself, can I sustain that for the next 40 years, or 50 years? Right, and one of the diets that are really popular right now, their prescription medication, and that can be really costly, right? So it’s maybe costing anywhere from, you know, 500 to $1,500 a month? How sustainable is that? And what happens when you go off the medication? What are the long term effects of the medication. And so when it comes to overcoming the diet mentality, we want to focus on balanced eating, we want to focus on sustainability. And a moderation is really the key. So now let’s move our attention to signs of unbalanced eating. And so we want to think more specifically about what qualifies as unbalanced eating right, we know what diet counts. So if you’re on a diet that counts check. But there are other behaviors that you know, you might not be on a diet, but there might be other behaviors that you just kind of want to pay attention to that could be red flags that we again, we want to move towards moderation.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:46
And so one is food refusal, and so avoiding social gatherings where food may be present, refusing to eat out or eating and secret, another sign is restrictive and restrained eating. So you might not be on a specific diet. But are you always attempting to lose weight? Do you have intense guilt about eating sweets or items that you know, quote, unquote, aren’t allowed, or eliminating food groups, chronic caloric restriction or restraint or rigid tracking of what you’re eating. Another sign could be anxiety related to eating so you just have fear or worry about food eating, you know, a lot of times the worry could be about weight gain, or you know, if I eat this dessert, am I going to be able to exercise. So again, the obsessive calorie counting at loss of pleasure with eating right eating is a great thing. And if if your approach or thoughts about eating are tinged with anxiety, that could be a sign that you know, there’s an opportunity to move towards a little more moderation. And next we have emotional eating. So eating in response to emotional upset, eating a large amount of food in a short period of time to the point of stomach upset, and eating to calm or soothe yourself. These are all signs that we want to pay attention to. Now, eating is not disconnected from emotions.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:19
But if you find that you’re going to food in response to emotional upset or to cope with life stressors, then that could be a sign that we want to pay attention to. And then the last thing that I want to talk about today is compensatory behaviors. And so these are behaviors that you use to counterbalance eating. So for example, the the example I use before if you you give yourself permission to have dessert, but then you feel like you have to exercise or you got to add in another workout to count to balance those calories that you just ate, you know, we think about self induced vomiting, use of laxatives, or diuretics, chewing and spitting, food uses of detoxes. All of these are signs of unbalanced eating. And so just getting curious and, and knowing what might stand out for you. So now let’s move to our last point, which is actually our second to last point. So balanced eating basics. And so I just want to give you some general guidelines that can help you to have a balanced approach to eating. And so this term, I use, I use it in my in my life as an eating disorder specialist. And I think it really, it sounds paradoxical, but it really hits the target, which is flexible structure.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:52
So, you know, we want to make sure that you’re eating regularly, you’re getting in general, you know, three meals, three snacks a day, but that you can be flexible with that you can you can eat in response to social settings, you can, you know, you’re not so locked down on your eating schedule, that you don’t have room for flexibility. Another basic is to prioritize Whole Foods, we, you know, we we live in a in a culture with highly processed foods. And if you’re not careful, you can you can go a whole week without eating any Whole Foods. And so thinking about fruits and vegetables, aiming for five to seven servings each day, increasing color on your plate. And if you focus on that, and you’re not eating everything out of a box, right, then you will naturally pick up more fruits and veggies along the way. We want a balance of macros. So you know, we think about carbs, fats, and proteins as the macros. And we don’t want too much in balance there. And so, you know, if you’re scared of carbs, and so you try to keep your carbs really low, that’s not going to be great for optimal functioning. And so in general, we want a balance there. And it doesn’t mean that the numbers right of those macros are exactly the same. But that you know, you’re not restricting one of your macros from your diet. But also don’t forget your micros.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:27
So when we think about micronutrients, right, we really want to pay attention to those vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, all of those are also really important in terms of balanced eating. And then when it comes to fiber, we want to shoot for 20 grams of fiber. And so you know, fiber doesn’t bring nutritional value, but it helps our guts to keep moving and to have a healthy GI tract. And then of course, drinking plenty of water, which also really helps with the GI tract. But it helps to protect you from dehydration, everything just works a little bit better when we have when we have adequate water in place. And so now I just want to say a couple things about intuitive eating. And so this is a specific approach. So it’s similar to mindful eating. But it is a specific approach. There’s a book called intuitive eating. And the essence of this is that it is a non dieting approach to eating that is sustainable and results in lower BMI. So BMI is the height to weight ratio, better help and more peace with food and your body. So one of the arguments I often hear from dieters is that if they don’t die it their weight is they’re just going to continue to gain weight. And so there’s a lot of fear around that. And diets are used as a form of control right control to address that fear. But with intuitive eating, it’s all about developing trust with your body learning to listen and respond to the cues your body is sending you. Our bodies are incredibly wise, if we can quiet all the other noise and listen to them. And so it’s also really great for help. People have a better relationship with food, their weight tends to be lower.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:22
So if you’re concerned about fear of gaining weight that just isn’t borne out in the research around intuitive eating. So being able to eat in response to hunger, stopping when you’re full. Generally not using food to numb, distract, soothe or cope. But also recognizing that food isn’t just about fuel, and this ability to enjoy food as part of connection with others. And so I hope that what we’ve talked about today can be helpful for you as you consider your secure foundation.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:56
And so as I review today with the podcast we focused on how to avoid quick fixes diets and unsustainable approaches. We also talked about the signs of unbalanced eating. And I shared with you the basics of balanced eating. So you can kind of, you know, to use that as a guide, and then finished up by sharing a little bit about intuitive eating, which is a non dieting approach to eating that is that has such great results on just about every measure, they have taken a look at. And so there is a great book called intuitive eating. And so that could be a great resource for you. If you want to learn more about that. So you can head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode. I will link to the book Intuitive Eating if you want to check that out. And I think I do have another podcast that addresses intuitive eating and a little more specifically, so I will include that link as well. If you don’t mind, I’d love it. If you gave the podcast a review on Apple or Spotify, it helps more people find the podcast and I want to know what you think. I’m also on Instagram @dr.melissasmith and I’d love to connect with you there every day. I have more resources related to the podcast topics. In the meantime. Oh actually let me share the the link for the show notes at www.drmelissasmith.com/224-eatingmindfully. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai