If you the Whole30 didn't work for you....
If Paleo just isn't that much fun...
If you look at the autoimmune protocol and immediately feel overwhelmed...
You. are. not. alone. For a long while, paleo didn't work for me either. The Whole30? That's never worked. Not ever. And a strict AIP? Don't even get me started.
Now before we keep going, let me set the scene. I have an autoimmune disease, Takayasu's Arteritis and I eat mostly paleo. It sounds like I'm contradicting myself here, but please stick with me. Especially if you've ever said or thought one of these phrases while following one of these diets...
"I feel even more guilty, angry, and resentful than usual."
"I don't have time to search a 50 mile radius for sugar free bacon!"
"I can't afford organic, free range everything."
"My picky child is not willing to eat the way I do, so I stare at delicious pizza on the table (for my child) while eating sad, cold leftovers myself."
"I'm tired of being hungry."
"I'm tired of desperately craving cheese."
"I'm tired of feeling guilty about any and everything because something might contain trace amounts of non-compliant ingredients."
"I feel like I've just found another way to be told I'm not enough."
YES. Let's get the cat out of the bag and have this conversation. Sometimes, for some people, restrictive diets just. don't. work. They might even do more HARM than good. (For some people, they do work. If you're one of those people, this post isn't for you.)
I'm going here, because I'm tired of not talking about it. What's it? Stress. What does stress cause in the body? Inflammation? Why are the Whole30, paleo, and AIP diets recommended? To counteract the inflammation in the body that may lead to health challenges.
You read those sentences above, right? (Ok, I know you did, but clearly I'm a bit fired up! Stick with me, cause you're awesome and this is awesome.)
These are sentences that comes from people who are feeling oh-so-stressed. Resentful. Bitter. Frustrated. Tired. Deprived. Restricted. Unhappy.
We all have these feelings, and every once in a while that's no big deal and not going to do anything to the body. (Especially if we fully FEEL the feelings - without guilt or shame.) However, if we feel these feelings regularly because of something we are consciously doing on a daily basis... that's going to lead to chronic cause stress which causes inflammation in the body.
Stress is defined as any real or imagined danger. Everything we're talking about here - it's imagined danger. However, our bodies don't know that. They can't tell the difference between real or imagined danger - it just shows up like danger.
Wanting to eat certain foods, but feeling not allowed...
Wanting to go out to eat with friends, and feeling deprived...
Wanting the pizza on the table, but choosing cold leftovers instead...
These are all indicators of diet mentality. Of FEELING and THINKING certain things about the foods allowed and not allowed to have. A diet is a mindset of rules or regulations that determine our action and carry emotional attachment. In other words, when we follow the diet we're "good" and when we don't we're "bad".
I bring this up, because diet mentality hinges on restriction and deprivation, both physically and emotionally. (Emotional deprivation a concept first introduced by Isabel Foxen Duke. Read more here.) People who participate in a diet (which is often not behavior based but rather mindset based) feel restricted and deprived at different points along the diet. The problem is that the body cannot tell the difference between environmental restriction / deprivation (such as a famine) and self-imposed restriction and deprivation (such as a diet).
Deprivation / restriction = fear of starvation = a threat to self = danger = the stress response or the flight or fight response.
(Basically, this entire post is simply a super long winded way of saying if you feel this way about a program you're following, then you're ADDING stress to your body rather than the intended goal of taking it away. You're a rockstar for still reading.)
So, friend. If strict adherence to a miracle diet doesn't work for you right now, WELCOME. Take a deep breath, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Strict adherence doesn't work for me either. In fact, no dieting at all works for me. (Yes, even though I eat mostly paleo, I don't diet and I don't restrict. Remember, diet is mindset-based NOT behavior-based.)
The key to moving forward - and feeling good - is to incorporate the principles of intuitive eating and completely break down the diet mentality (which often includes breaking down the fear of weight gain and the fear of losing social status from both weight gain or health challenges).
If you're ready to adopt a different way of living, being, and eating, consider joining The Wellness Boulevard.