Do you suffer from a toxic nutritional belief?

We hear the words “toxic” and “toxins” a lot these days. People are becoming more and more aware of what they allow into their bodies and what they smother on their skin. Every year we get updated lists of the Dirty Dozen vegetables and fruits, we Image-1avoid drinking bottled water, buy expensive filters for out home water systems, chase organic produce and spend literally hundreds of hours studying what to eat, what not to eat and how to exercise, that we can finally become the best versions of ourselves and enjoy our lives fully.

“Because I deserve it,” we say.

And there is nothing wrong with this approach. We want to take care of ourselves and of our planet, who else would do that if not us. I have only one little problem with the world’s obsession with healthy eating and exercise; that it is not balanced with taking care of our minds and souls. Our world has been poisoned by the Cult of the Body. The statistics say that 9 out of 10 US women are unhappy with their weight, shape, or looks. That are quite a lot of women going through their days with a war – like approach against their bodies and those women might be quite fit and good-looking. I would like to challenge the equation that says: the more fit and slim, the happier I am with my body!

Being at war with your body means that you are in a constant stress response. Being in a constant stress response means that you are harming your health and wasting your potential as a human being.
The time has come when people need to extend the word “toxic” beyond substances that come to us from the environment through food, air, water and cosmetics.
Our mind and brain can be the biggest factory producing toxins that harm our bodies and diminish us as human beings. Science has already proven body – mind connection. There is plenty of studies that prove how stress and negative thinking cause sickness as well as weight gain and emotional eating issues; and there also are studies proving the healing power of meditation, prayer, positive thinking and other stress relieving practices.
In eating psychology we predominately focus on a specific category of toxic thoughts called “toxic dietary beliefs”. They were identified by Marc David, the founder of the Institute for the psychology of eating through coaching hundreds of clients; helping them with weight, body image and digestive issues. And they are:

1. Dietary fat is bad – it makes me fat.
2. Food is the enemy. Food makes me fat.
3. Less food and more exercise is a royal road to weight loss.
4. My diet must be prefect.
5. If I only looked or ate a certain way, then I would be happy.

1. Dietary fat is bad. It makes me fat.

This lie originated in the late 1950s when a researcher Ancel Keys proposed that heart and coronary diseases are caused by the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol in our diets. There were studies opposing his theory but they did not receive enough media attention at that time so Key’s lipid hypothesis became a mainstream view. Fat, especially from animal sources, became the villain and we Image-1learnt that the best thing for our health is to avoid it and substitute it with refined vegetable oils and “healthy” margarines. Keys’ recommendations led to the boom of low-fat and skim dairy products; and to the “fat-free” and “zero cholesterol” labels on processed foods. Eggs and red meat were almost considered as harmful as smoking. Somehow we started to reason that “the fat I eat will be directly transformed into fat on my body.” And this is the big “fat” lie. Since the onset of the fat-free craze our population is becoming fatter and sicker and more and more people are dying from civilization diseases; not to mention sky rocketing statistics on obesity.

Today there are hundreds of studies proving Keys’ lipid hypothesis wrong. Fat is not killing us and it is not making us fat. I mean the right kind of fat; that is fat from animal sources (butter, ghee, lard, tallow) and from plant sources like olive oil and coconut oil. I am referring, here, to the fats that have been used by many civilizations for centuries; not to the refined vegetable/seed oils produced in factories using chemical extraction like canola, corn, soybean and safflower oils, margarines and shortenings.
As Sally Fallon puts it in her cult cook book Nourishing Traditions,“Fat from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as a part of a meal slow down nutrient absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.”
People that avoid the right kind of fat might, with time, develop many symptoms including, brain fog, depression, dry skin or excessively oily skin and hair, inability to lose weight or weight gain (!), imbalanced appetite, cravings, and other more serious conditions.
The “good fats”; which are also known as essential fatty acids, are essential for us to be healthy and happy. We need to stop being scared of the “good fats”, because what is actually harming us is not the fat itself but the toxic belief that is it bad for us.

2. Food is the enemy. Food makes me fat. 

Whoa! Even small kids know what happens to a person who stops eating. He or she will die. So how food can be the enemy when it is actually our oldest friend. It keeps us alive from the day we are born. We need to eat. That is how we are designed by the Creator. Period! Now, of course if you eat the wrong foods in excessive quantities you might gain IMG_4746weight. Not all food is created equal. There are foods that God created for human consumption and there are foods that were designed and produced by people to make profit. I do not like counting calories or limiting portions. I have two basic rules when it comes to eating food and not gaining weight:Eat God-made food as opposed to man-made food. Eat it slowly with awareness and in a relaxed state, and breathe throughout the entire process.When you do this, the rest will take care of itself. You will enjoy eating, you will taste the amazing flavors created just for you, you will give yourself some love and there is little chance you will eat more than what you actually need. When you eat slowly you give your brain time to notice the food and receive signals from your tummy that it has had enough. Even if you occasionally find yourself in a situation where you just feel like a piece of processed “food-like” substance; relax, it will not harm you; it might actually have a sentimental value or provide comfort. Just eat it slowly and enjoy it in a relaxed peace of mind, What harms more than the food itself is the nagging toxic thought that it is bad for me and will make me fat.

3. Less food and more exercise is a royal road to weight loss.

False.
If this would be true it would have already worked. We would all be slim and happy and we could use billions of dollars spent on diets, supplements and slimming procedures to eradicate world poverty. Humans are not calorie in/out machines as some scientists tried to make us believe. Of course, there are people, who lose weight when they eat less and exercise more and they can keep the weight off even when they return to their previous lifestyle. But it is not the norm. Statistics confirm the opposite. Five years after dieting, most people have regained their original weight and 70 % have gained even more weight than what they originally were. The truth is that your body does not want to starve. It will try as hard as it can to remain the same and remain alive. So when you give it less food and you make it work harder it will go into starvation mode and store anything that it has available as fat/energy.
Refer to this link by Jade Teta, a holistic physician, for interesting details regarding issues of weight loss and weight management. In this particular article  Jade explains what happens during a calorie restriction diet, and describes a process called metabolic compensation, and he also gives some practical tips on how to avoid falling into the “calorie-restriction” trap.

4. My diet must be perfect.

“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the higher order.” Anne Wilson Schaef.

Who would not like to be Mr. or Miss Perfect. Not many I would think. We were raised to be a perfection – striving generation. I guess the idea behind being perfect is to do your best, and that is nice; but it can be easily exaggerated and it then turns into a great hindrance of happiness and even progress. The bitter truth is, nobody is perfect – nor can be perfect – and we need to accept that. We will never have a perfect Image-1body, we will never have the perfect life, the perfect kids or the perfect husbands, and our diets will not be perfect either. We might eat “perfectly” healthy foods all day and then come home tired and frustrated from work or traffic and find comfort in a whole tub of chocolate ice cream. Alternatively, we might find it too hard to resist a slice of thick dark chocolate birthday cake at the office. Many people live in extremes; they eat either perfectly healthy, whatever it might mean for them, or they just do not care and eat whatever happens to be around, which is usually accompanied by a strong feeling of shame and failure. We need to be kind to ourselves. Striving for perfection takes a lot of our energy and never yields positive results. It is not sustainable. It creates feelings of guilt, shame, frustration and anger with oneself and that is far more toxic to your body than that fatty burger with fries you just cannot resist.

5. If I only looked or ate a certain way, then I would be happy.

Growing up in this world of ours, we have acquired frustrating habits of worrying about the future and pondering over the past. However, few of us wonder about the present, the now! What really is the “Present”? The future has not happened yet and the past is already gone. Of course, since we perceive the world as a time in space environment we cannot totally avoid thinking about the future and the past. But
when it comes to weight loss and body image issues the best way on how to achieve your goals is to focus on the NOW. I always ask my clients what happens if they had the “body” they always wanted? I mostly get similar answers, “I can be the real me”, “I will feel lighter.”, “I will buy nice cloths.”, “I will be healthy.”, “I will be confident.”, “I can start dating.”
We are so focused on what we want to be like and what we want to do once we are like we want to be, that we totally forget that we have the power to do all the things we need to do “now”:

You can be the real you now.Image-1
You can feel lighter now.
You can buy pretty dresses now.
You can get healthier now.
You can be confident now.
You can start dating now.

Make a list of activities and/or things you want to do to achieve your end result “now”. Because the road you take will inform the destination. Working on our inner world can make profound changes in our metabolic world. This is the key concept of eating psychology: personal power equals metabolic power. When you are the person you are meant to be, your digestion will become what it is meant to be. Stop focusing on weight loss, and instead focus on what kind of person you want to be and how you want to show up in this world. That is your true power. It is very likely that in the process you will actually shed few pounds; and if not, what you gain is fewer worries, less toxic thoughts, and the ability to live your life to the fullest.

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