Ditch the Diet and Start Living a Lifestyle of Food Freedom
You know that diet train you’ve been on, the one where you’re hopping on and off at each stop, thinking “this is it!” only to find out, it’s just another diet filled with empty promises. You board the train again, determined to find your final destination, an end to this dieting-cycle. If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone-this was me too, and I can assure you, you are in the right place.
As a former chronic dieter, I bounced from one diet to another to another, looking for quick fixes to a lifelong struggle with body dysmorphia, yo-yo dieting, eating disorders, you name it! I wanted nothing more than to end this cycle or (self) abuse! What I didn’t know was, the perpetual diet cycle left me worse off than when I ever imagined, creating a warped perception and relationship with self and dieting. Like the above, I was determined. I wanted this to end, and after years and many failed attempts, it finally did.
So what changed? It took a lot of trial and error and rebuilding of trust to try another “diet,” but the biggest change was in the way I viewed my relationship with dieting and self. I had to take a step back from my old diet mentality and began asking myself, is there a way I can achieve my goals and actually make it last? When we’re knee-deep in the cycle, we’re looking for quick fixes/wins to keep the momentum going. When we lose weight, supported by the (visual) number on the scale, we get a “high,” and once the scale tells us “we’ve reached our goal” weight, we don’t actually feel or see ourselves any different. I reframed my questions and asked myself if I am chasing after “a number on the scale” or am I actually chasing after the end result—to Ditch the Diet and Start Living a Lifestyle of Food Freedom.
When I was willing to accept this new answer, a new question arose, how do I start living a lifestyle of food freedom? Once again, determined to find a solution to my lifelong problem, I discovered Flexible Dieting. On guard, immediately, I was triggered by the word “dieting” (here we go again…) until I dug deeper into why does the word “diet” bother me. I believed diets (and food) was the enemy. In short, it was a trigger word for “failure.” Another challenge positioned itself. I now needed to reframe my beliefs around the definition and difference of “diet” and “lifestyle.”
The word “Diet” is synonymous with “restriction, loss, can’t have, off-limits, failure, hard, sucks, no life,” and so on.
We all know the health and fitness industry is saturated with every “Diet” known to man, but in my opinion, there’s not enough emphasis placed on “Lifestyle.”
To break this down, I want to look at two key words: 𝐃𝐢𝐞𝐭 + 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐲𝐥𝐞.
And to understand the definition of each word, a quick search provided relief and clarity.
noun: a: food and drink regularly provided or consumed
b: habitual nourishment
noun: the typical way of life of an individual, group, or culture
To break this down even further, let’s look at the word: 𝐇𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐭.
noun: a: an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary
Notice how ALL three relate, and nowhere is the word “Diet” associated with “pain or suffering” but a way of life, to fuel & nourish your body, mind & soul. When we consistently perform any behavior, it becomes a Habit, and a Habit is a way of life, hence Lifestyle.
To put an end to “quick fix” diets and more emphasis on creating a healthy & balanced lifestyle diet (food and drinks consumed), we need to understand what we’re chasing after—sustainable, longterm results. And Flexible Dieting is that, a diet that is flexible.
What is Flexible Dieting?
Flexible Dieting/IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) simply put is, calculating your daily caloric intake and breaking it down and counting your macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) to achieve a desired body composition goal. It follows the belief that there are no foods that will magically and miraculously make you lose weight, and there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” foods, they are all just macro ratios. To change your body, you can eat whatever you want so long as you hit your macro goals.
Once you determine your daily caloric intake, your calories are then broken down into three main macros: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates. One gram of each macro has a calorie value.
- 1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
- 1 Gram of Carbohydrates = 4 Calories
- 1 Gram of Fat = 9 Calories
All foods consist of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients “Macros” are large molecules (protein, carbs, fat) whereas, micronutrients “Micros” are smaller nutrients (vitamins and minerals).
I don’t know about you, but before discovering Flexible Dieting, the word “Diet” felt like temporary suffocation, an ends to a mean. I’d feel my anxiety levels rise. Time to turn my willpower into overdrive and prove I can do this diet thing, again! We know how that works out. More often than not, most failed diets leave you feeling worse off, creating or exacerbating an eating disorder, excessive weight gain, and a warped perception of food in general.
Diet smarter, not harder.
Since the approach to Flexible Dieting is maintainable and sustainable, it’s more likely for one to adhere to it for its mental and emotional stability. For me, it’s the first and only diet I’ve been able to adhere to for any length of time, years actually. From my research and experiences, it’s the “The Key To Food Freedom,” replacing the old-fashioned methods of dieting and eliminating the diet-cycle.
With Flexible Dieting, you can have your cake and eat it too!
The beauty of Flexible Dieting is just that; it’s “flexible.” It’s a maintainable and sustainable approach to your fitness and lifestyle goals. By allowing yourself flexibility in your diet, you’re able to enjoy social and special events, holidays, and meals with your friends, family as long as you hold yourself accountable and keep track of what you’re eating.
The keyword being: tracking, it is the most efficient way to change your body. Whether you prefer to track your overall daily calorie intake or through the practice of macro-tracking, the point is you must track. Without this data, you have nothing to measure or manage.
By focusing on your macronutrient intake rather than eating certain foods, you can still achieve your goals while enjoying life with everyone else.
To lose weight/fat, one must be in a caloric deficit. Although the quality of your food is important, if you’re not in a caloric deficit, you can eat all the “good foods” you want and still not get the results you set out to achieve. This holds true for all diets, including Flexible Dieting. However, Flexible Dieting uses the ‘no foods off-limits’, no restrictions, no extremes, as long as it fits your daily calories/macros.
To break this down, when the food enters your body, it doesn’t go into separate subcategories of your stomach, thinking is this food “Healthy or unhealthy? Where should we put it?” No, it does what the stomach is designed to do, break down food, and process the macronutrients.
With flexible dieting, there is no deprived food. You lack nothing. If it doesn’t fit your macros, it doesn’t fit. It’s as simple as that. I like to think of it as setting a (calorie) budget, and if you can’t afford something, you can’t buy (eat) it.
Think of it as setting a (cash) budget. For example, say your daily calories are 1500, and you need to spend your calories accordingly in the appropriate protein, carbs, and fat departments.
For simple math purposes, let’s look at this example as a cash budget. You have $1500 for the day, and you must spend it the three “macro” departments, $500 on protein, $500 on carbs, $500 on fats.
Don’t worry; you’ll get more money/calories to spend the next day. Unlike real shopping, unfortunately, you don’t get a refund on poor (food) choices. Choose wisely! 😉
However, just because something fits your macros, doesn’t necessarily mean it should, the quality of your food choices will determine the quality of the results you will achieve. I recommend using an 80/20 approach to flexible dieting and be aware of what you put in your body, for example, eating whole, real, foods while leaving room for “fun stuff,” i.e., treats, alcohol. Although it’s a macro-based diet, it is essential to get your vitamins and minerals for optimal health and wellness (mind, body & soul).
You wouldn’t fill up an exotic car with low-grade gas, neither should you fill your body with low-grade foods.
To sum this all up, as someone who suffered from eating disorders and yo-yo dieting (hopping on/off the “fad” diet train) for WAY too long, I finally gave up on “diets” and created a lifestyle that has ZERO restrictions, defies food myths & no more “labels.”
Today, I keep it simple—eating real, whole, nourishing foods, and enjoying all that lies in between—a lifestyle of balance & moderation. No. Foods. Off. Limits.
Now I can have my cake and wash it down with a glass of bold cab too!
This is what I call: 𝐅𝐎𝐎𝐃 𝐅𝐑𝐄𝐄𝐃𝐎𝐌.