Tag Archives: body image

Cheat days. Are you doing more damage than good?

Are “cheat days” a good idea? Do these special days of indulgence help you reach your health goals? Or do they set you up on a seesaw of destructive eating habits?

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The Argument FOR Cheat Days: 

Rewarding Yourself-

Some say that giving yourself days of indulgence is giving yourself a needed break from your diet. These cheat days are a relief valve that help you stick to healthier foods.

The logic behind these days has more than a few flaws, and it’s due to the psychology and physiology behind them…..

The Argument AGAINST Cheat Days

⛔️The Name Is to Blame….The problem with “cheat” is that it carries a huge emotional weight of guilt, shame, and failure. 

“Cheat” is not a positive word. When you talk about “cheating” on a diet the same way you’d “cheat on” a partner, you’re adding a massive load of moral judgment that has no business being attached to a burger or a piece of cake, because your “relationship” with your diet is fundamentally different from your relationship with a spouse or partner.

Think about “cheating” in the context of a relationship. If you cheat on your husband or wife, it’s wrong because it’s hurting the other person, betraying their trust and breaking a promise.

Treating a person this way would make you a sociopath, but when it comes to food, this is a perfectly normal and healthy attitude. And that’s why using a word with moral connotations like “cheat” doesn’t make sense.

What’s more, when we deem certain foods “bad” or “cheating,” the negative name doesn’t help us pump the breaks.

⛔️When a food is off-limits, it can develop a specific, emotional charge. You begin obsessing over it, fantasizing about, and looking forward to that ‘indulge day’ all week. Then, when you finally have access to it, you overeat.

Separating foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories encourages you to associate eating with guilt and shame. This means that instead of enjoying everything we eat, we feel bad about ourselves when we eat something we consider “bad.”

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⛔️Furthermore Science shows when we think something is healthy, we’re not concerned with portion control and thus overdo it—whether it’s a “normal” day or a “cheat” day. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing.

The problem now becomes: what word to use instead? Call it a treat, a detour, a “free day/free meal” or a non-healthy meal. Or just call it “part of the way I choose to eat” and leave it at that.

Once you stop making food into a moral issue, it becomes much easier to sit down and think rationally about whether (and if so, when) it makes sense for you personally to eat something that isn’t healthy.

⛔️Attack of the Calories

Those who assume they can compensate for giving into temptations—say, by holding themselves back on all days except their cheat days—are actually less likely to reach their dietary goals. This is because they’re more likely to consume a greater number of calories, not just on their cheat day but on the days following it.

Restricting ourselves throughout the week and then slamming our bodies with sugar and fat once our cheat day rolls around, can have “a massive impact on blood sugar and insulin levels. You’ll wake up the next day craving more sugars and simple carbs, and you’ll find yourself feeling pretty ragged. And if you repeatedly increase your caloric intake above baseline, you may inadvertently end up gaining more weight over time.

Cravings serve as a sign that your nutritional approach isn’t sound. Most cravings come from overly restricting your food intake, using food as a drug, or over exercising.

⛔️Binging Leads to Extra Cheat Days

Once that day of indulgence comes, it’s not about enjoying the foods you haven’t had all week. Instead, you’re approaching it out of a need to consume all you can before the day goes away. “It feeds into a feast-and-famine cycle,”.

Binging on a cheat day also makes it challenging to confine cheat-day foods only to that designated 24-hour window. It’s very hard for people to compartmentalize their diets. ‘I’m only going to have those cookies on Saturday’ can easily spill over into ‘I’ll only have a few cookies Sunday too.’

 

✳️The Solution: Stop Restricting, Start Enjoying—in Moderation✳️

So if cheat days don’t work, are we all better off eating whatever we want, whenever we want?

Well, not quite, following a healthy diet means including a number of foods—all of which are consumed in moderation. If weight loss is the goal, this usually means three square meals a day with planned snacks, incorporating treats but in smaller portion sizes.

Research suggests eating a balance of foods—with none of them off-limits or labeled “bad”—is the best way to reduce the kinds of cravings that can lead to a binge.

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So what does a game plan for a healthy eating with no cheat days look like? 

➡️Remember these 3 things:

1.✅Listen to your appetite.

If you want to eat spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, have it! Don’t find the low-carb version with the fat-free sauce. If you actually eat what you want, you’ll likely end up eating a more reasonable amount of it.

Eating in tune with your hunger is a principle of intuitive eating, and it’s shown to have a positive effect on both your weight and your wellbeing.

2. ✅Enjoy treats from time to time.

Research shows (and experts agree) that sprinkling reasonably sized desserts or treats into your daily diet encourages you to find pleasure in meal time again—and that pleasure will help ensure you don’t feel the need to go overboard.

So instead of confining your treats to one single day, drop them into places throughout the week.

3. ✅Savor every bite.

Once you place any item of food into your mouth, take a moment to: taste, smell, and experience it as a whole. When you take the time to be mindful about what you’re eating, you tap into your satiety cues.

Forget about designating a cheat day to reward yourself. Denying yourself most of the week and then indulging like crazy on your one day “off,” just promotes guilt, anxiety, and shame around eating—which means you won’t likely get to the health outcome you’re looking for. Instead, make every day a great day by listening to your appetite, periodically adding in some of your favorite foods in small portions, and savoring each and every bite of everything you eat. This sustainable approach will help you think of all of your eating as enjoyable, and that’s what gets you down the road to where you want to be.

✅”Calories in vs. calories out” is the golden rule for effective weight loss. To lose weight, a person must eat fewer calories than he or she burns. 

You are not a quitter! You are not a cheater! 

If you feel the need or desire to “cheat” on your diet, it may be worth examining your relationship with food and whether you’re actually taking steps to leave dieting behind in favor of adopting a healthy eating plan that you can live with for life.

Please feel free to email me – click here. Or leave a comment below on whether cheat days work for you – I would love to hear your story.

HOW TO HANDLE CRAVINGS

1. Plan for a snack attack

Many of us use low blood sugar as an excuse for a mid-afternoon chocolate snack. There are plenty of alternative foods that will boost your blood sugar and energy levels. A peanut butter sandwich or a banana is much better, as it increases blood sugar gradually, rather than the quick fix hit of chocolate. Learn to anticipate your weak moments and have healthy alternatives, such as nuts or fruit.

You could even try getting your chocolate fix with a juice plus pancake or ice cream or whip some into greek yoghurt (total 0%). 

What is GI and GL?

Glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) provide information about how foods affect blood sugar and insulin.

The lower a food’s GI or GL, the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels.
GI measures the effect of your food on blood glucose levels. It’s a rank list index for foods based on how quickly your blood sugar levels will increase after ingestion.

The GL is different as it is based on the active carbohydrate content of a normal serving of food, or around 100 grammes. So in other words, the GL tells you how much carbohydrate is in a standard serving size of food.

2. Take up exercise

It may not be as immediately satisfying as munching on a bar of chocolate, but exercise creates serotonin, a neurotransmitter which promotes feelings of happiness.

It also releases endorphins in the same way that a bar of chocolate will, only exercise is far better for you in the long run.

After a good workout, you won’t have as much need for sugar, and the same goes for sex!

3. Blood glucose levels

A low glycaemic load (GL) diet will help keep your blood sugar level balanced. The glycaemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Juice Plus shakes are Low GI. 

Low GL carbohydrates produce only small fluctuations in blood glucose levels.

Eating quality lean proteins and the right fats with low GL carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, will make you feel full and you won’t be as likely to crave a sugar rush.

8 Lies No One Tells You About Weighing Yourself 

Let’s hear the TRUTH – and bin the scales!

Most women weigh themselves daily–and their whole day is dictated by “the number.”  

I’ll give you a number: ONE [the amount of times you should weigh yourself annually/at the doctors office], or how about TWENTY [the body fat % that separates the ultra-fit from the healthy], or even SIX [the dress size that the average healthy, fit 5’5″ woman wears]. Now these are numbers I am ok with!

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If you’re just starting a weight loss program, the number on the scale can be deceptive, making you feel that you’re not making progress even when you are.

Unfortunately, the hard work of diet and exercise isn’t always reflected on the scale for people loosing weight, especially during the first few weeks.

When you work hard at your workouts and diet, you may expect more than your body can deliver, which leads to disappointment.

Here are my 8 reasons why your weight (in lbs, kg, tons, whatever) really means very little in the grand scheme of health, fitness & fat loss:

1) Muscle.

You have heard this before, and yet, you still don’t like it or want to get on board with it: muscle is more DENSE than fat and takes up LESS SPACE. The more muscle you have on your frame, the HEAVIER your weight will be, but the tighter and SMALLER your PHYSIQUE will be compared to someone who might weigh less but also has less muscle or a higher body fat %. 

2) Water weight.

You can literally GAIN up to 5-7 lbs within the same DAY. It’s simple. When you wake up in the morning, you are relatively dehydrated and in a fasted state, and then you hydrate throughout the day and eat food. Understanding this can help prevent melt-downs for people who weigh themselves multiple times a day.

Also, having a super-salty meal one evening can lead to excessive water retention the next morning. You can literally feel that you are holding water based on fluctuations in rings (tighter or looser) or joint swelling or looking at your midsection if you are fairly lean. This does not mean you are destined to keep that weight on…you rehydrate with 3-4L plain water, get back on your clean nutrition plan, eat lots of fibrous veggies and you can shed that retention within a single day.

 

3) Your weight is not an accurate reflection of how you look in clothes or on stage.

Once again, coming back to that muscle versus fat argument, your body fat % dictates what dress size you wear, though two people can wear the exact same size and look completely different. 

Likewise, two women can weigh the exact same (one at 20% BF and one at 40% BF) and look drastically different. Thus, using your DRESS SIZE and how your clothes fit are both much more applicable indicators of your health, fitness & fat loss than your weight in pounds–far and away.

4) Your weight is NOT always an accurate measure of health.

Ever heard of “SKINNY FAT?” (please see my previous post about this). This is someone who tends to have a higher metabolism, stays thin, but might be flabbier with a high body fat percentage. They often have sarcopenic obesity, meaning they are in the “normal weight” range for their height, but their body fat % classifies them as “obese” while also putting them at a higher risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and even cancer, not to mention the #1 most likely: osteoporosis. It is much healthier to be a little heavier in weight but with a lower body fat % than the opposite.

Unfortunately many insurance companies use weight and/or Body Mass Index (BMI, which is a height-to-weight measurement and essentially holds the same comparably inaccurate value to that of weight alone) to set their rates, which is bad for the people who weigh more because of their muscle mass! Yes, Jessica ennis is clinically obese I cording to the scales! What do you think?

So instead, use your body fat % or waist circumference as a more accurate measure of health.

5) Your ego.

Let’s face it, you get an ego boost when you weigh yourself and get a lower number. Not that there’s really anything wrong with that, EXCEPT how do you respond when the number goes UP? Often for people who are chronic-weighers, “the number” dictates how well their day will go: “Is it up? Is it down? This is going to be a bad/good day!” Having an attachment to your weight number is a double-edged sword. When it’s down, you’re up and when it’s up, you’re down. Having to rely on a quantifiable digit to decide your happiness is not a healthy place to be….

6) Playing with your self-worth.

Many people put way too much stock in their weight, their body fat % and dress size. Yes, the latter two can be a great indicator of health, but none of them should dictate your self-worth. “Your self-worth is inherent. No one can take it from you” and that includes a number on a scale. The problem with using any sort of objective measurement is that many times it can get entangled with our sense of self. You are worthy, special and a success right now, in this moment. 

7) Getting to know your body

You can’t lose weight until you exercise consistently and you can’t do that until you build endurance and strength. Take the first few weeks to experiment, condition your body and figure out what you’re capable of. weighing yourself once a month rather than daily or weekly to give your body time to adapt to what you’re doing. Another option is to shift your focus from the minutiae of weight loss and concentrate on what you actually need to do get there, such as:

-Showing up for your workouts 

– Set goals based on how many workouts you’ll do each week rather than how much weight you’ll lose.

-Learning how to exercise – If you’re a beginner, there’s a learning curve that may take you awhile to overcome. Give yourself space to learn good form, solid technique and effective methods of training before you put too much pressure on yourself to lose weight. 

8) Instead of watching the scale, focus on creating a healthy lifestyle.

Living well almost always leads to weight loss. This is one instance where the scale can lie, especially for new exercisers beginning a strength training program. I often hear this question from readers who mention losing inches while the scale doesn’t move. They wonder, “Why haven’t I seen any results?” If you’re experiencing this, one question to ask yourself is: Why do you believe the scale over your own experience? If you’re buying smaller clothes, you’re losing fat no matter what the scale says. 

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I’m upset about hearing from/of people who believe that the scale is telling them rather than what’s in front of our own eyes, leaving them discouraged and frustrated rather than celebrating their success ! BIN THOSE SCALES !!!!

 

 

Stress And Damage Caused By Dieting, And How To Get On The Path To Recovery-By Nia Shanks

Nia Shanks makes a great summary here for why we should not diet !
(And explanation of how the stress dieting causes you actually makes you gain weight!)

http://www.niashanks.com/2013/05/stress-damage-dieting-path-recovery/

Colleen Clark’s Body Image Comic Reminds Us That Our Bodies Don’t Define Us

Colleen Clark’s Body Image Comic Reminds Us That Our Bodies Don’t Define Us
Click the link above to see the comic.

Following on from my previous post about obesity in the media (on my wellbeing blog- https://chloewellbeing.wordpress.com/) and why it is causing such body image issues.
This wonderful comic strip reminds us that what you are on the inside is what counts. Society should not be the one judging you.

“We struggle with it every day: the conflict between our belief that women should celebrate their bodies and the constant public criticism of women’s appearances that communicates the exact opposite message.

So when we came across this incredible comic drawn by Colleen Clark that deals with that ongoing battle, we had to share it.

Clark, a 20-year-old Illustration student at Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, completed the comic over a 16-week semester. “I love the phrase ‘write what you know,’ so I chose to write about what I know best: feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and hateful of my body,” Clark told the Huffington Post in an email.

Clark found the second page of the comic particularly hard to draw. “That giant naked woman is a representation of my own body and how I see it,” she said. “I knew people would be disgusted by that drawing, but I look a lot more like that woman than the women in the thousands of ads I see every day. I needed to draw it for me and for the majority of women in the world who look more like her than supermodels.”

Weight stigma is currently very common in the U.S. Fat-shaming is practiced publicly, and overweight and obese Americans are often treated like second-class citizens, subjected to prejudice from employers and healthcare professionals. A 2011 study found that women feel vulnerable to weight stigma in their everyday interactions and relationships, and in 2012, 46 percent of participants in a fat-bias study said they would rather give up one year of life than be obese. Thirty percent said they would rather be divorced than obese.

“[I]t has been difficult to draw and to talk about, because of how close this topic is to my heart,” Clark wrote on her Tumblr. “I really hope people can relate to it at the very least, and that it can help someone think of their bodies a little differently at the most.”

Is the ‘obesity epidemic’ backfiring?

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I believe our obsession with the obesity epidemic is backfiring on us.

We think about food too much. We think about our body image too much.

Don’t believe me? Think of when you’re watching tv…the adverts…programmes…
In between programmes such as embarrassing fat bodies, supersize v superskinny, embarrassing bodies, the latest diet or exercise documentary there are promotional adverts for McDonald’s, subway or another food store! And then you’re watching yet another food programme- come dine with me, master-chef, the great British bake off etc- and there are more promotional adverts including the Jenny Craig weight loss programme, special k, or weight watchers, which are in between the adverts for the pizza that can be delivered to your doorstep or the £1 whopper burger.

Not to mention social media; Instagram is now being dubbed as a food diary as people mainly use it to share their pictures they have taken of their food online.

I believe that virtually all of us have eating disorders. There is too much significance on the moral, psychological and sociological issues about the way people eat and what they weigh.

Men included here. Yes, men you can’t lie about worrying about your body image or how healthy you are and comparing yourself to your mates or magazines etc. Or even the older men and their beer bell’s! It’s a fact, male eating disorders (and these are the recorded and diagnosed ones – many go un-recorded) are on the rise. This includes bulimia and anorexia. Furthermore, there has been a notable rise in teenage boys and the abuse of steroids and laxatives. Men say its nonsense!- it’s a female issue. But I’ve witnessed, being a model and going to the gym a lot, it is not. Men suffer from body image issues as well.

And what about our perception of fat and thin people?

The general view is fat= a sloth, lazy, gluttony, no self respect, no self worth, no self esteem, stupidity….where has this come from!? I know very clever fat people and ones who actually have high self esteem!
We assume fat people are miserable. And to make matters worse we moan about the space they take up on trains, buses, aeroplanes, the cost of the NHS for them. That’s a hell of a lot to assume and judge about someone who carries some extra weight! A lot of negative.
And its just as bad for thin people. Thin= weak, feeble, joyless, we associate them with vanity, even bitterness, those poor skeletal creatures, “they think they look great but look awful”.

Society makes assumptions that size is equal to virtue. A trim, fit physique = healthy and attractive and Admirable.
These moral qualities are dimensions which we associate with a trim figure. Qualities that are enviable – self esteem, drive, power, self possession, determination- even career success!

Meeting up with a friend who you haven’t seen for a long time and you notice they have put on a considerable amount of weight: the majority of us would assume they are unhappy- have they lost their job? Or their marriage broken down? – or something else significant which has caused them to gain weight – but we assume that it would be something bad – not good – and that they are unhappy.

But who are the biggest victims? OURSELVES. We believe this, we follow this, follow the diets, the media, the cheap fast and junk food available. The ridiculous amount of mental energy we use debating whether we should have another slice of pizza, another biscuit, berating ourselves for it and vowing to start the ‘liquid’ diet tomorrow!

I find it heartbreaking how many people hate themselves over gaining a few pounds. It destroys our relationship with food, eating- anything in life as we are constantly thinking about it. But in the end fretting about it makes us consume more as food and weight is always on our minds.

This is why i think the obsession with obesity and diet is backfiring. If we were more oblivious about our relationship with food and how much we weigh we would not think about it as much- and we would keep us slim!

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I hope you enjoy reading about my opinion on this topic. Please feel free to comment, however i have more entries to come where i will discuss more about what we can do to help the crisis we are in with health and obesity in the UK.