Most nutritionists have the client's best interest at heart. We may not all agree on every nutrition point, but we do want you - our clients - to do well, get the results you seek, and feel great.
So it's a safe guess that most nutritionists would not miss it at all if their clients stopped doing the following things - immediately and forever.
1. Eating "Good For You" Foods You Hate
The feeling of deprivation can make us do strange things with food. Feeling deprived can be a result of eating so little food that you're always hungry, always thinking about food, always ready to gnaw the legs off the furniture.
We know it's a binge waiting to happen. But there's more to it.
Several years ago, during an appointment, a frustrated client stomped her foot at me and demanded, "Joan, do you ever enjoy eating?!"
My answer was an enthusiastic, "Yes, of course." It's true that we might need to give up certain foods - including some of our favorites - to get the results we want.
But let's look at the good news. There are always foods we can and do enjoy that will fit into our food plan - even if we stop eating sugar, for example. Plenty of delicious foods are out there that don't contain sugar.
The main point of this, however, is to avoid eating foods you hate. Please. Don't eat them because you heard that they're good for you. Don't eat them because you read about all the antioxidants they contain.
Don't keep eating them because you're worried about your health. Chances are your nutritionist can find a different food that contains the same healthful nutrients as that hated food. In a food you won't hate!
Most importantly, if you don't like what you're eating, you'll feel deprived - as surely as if you were skimping on quantities and semi-starving yourself throughout the day.
Eating foods you hate is just another binge waiting to happen.
2. Using Food As Your Entertainment Or Reward
How do we use food for entertainment or reward? We eat when we're bored. We eat to procrastinate on that work project we dread starting. We eat to take a break from that work project we started but aren't enjoying. We eat because we got through a killer workout that morning. We eat because we had a great day. We eat to celebrate hitting our weight loss goal that day.
Feel free to fill in your own favorite entertainment/reward use of food.
In the early days of an athletic training program for which I was the nutritionist, a participant refused to follow the nutrition guidelines for the program. Her rationale was simple: She was working out hard and was entitled to eat whatever foods she wanted. Who could argue with that? We all get to make our own decisions.
When her training coach took weight and measurements at the end of the program, though, it was disappointing for her. Hers had all increased. It was a shame, too, because she probably would have performed far better in the program if she had followed the food plan.
It seems unusual that we'd eat more food - or eat junk - when things are going well. But, to use just one example, endorphins (beta-endorphin) can be released both when mood state is low and also when mood is "up" and positive.
Beta-endorphin affects the satiety center of the brain. It makes us want to eat more. It doesn't matter whether the original trigger was positive or negative.
When we're up, it's not surprising that we want more of that up feeling. And we may end up eating foods that trigger the release of more endorphins.
More sugar, please.
3. Using Food As Your Primary Stress Reliever
What does it look like when we eat to relieve stress? We eat when we're frustrated. We eat at the end of a bad day. We eat in the middle of the bad day. We're much more likely to go for junk food when we're stressed.
Eating when we're stressed might seem like a minor issue, but any stressed-out moment is a bad time to eat. The digestive system basically shuts down - reduced production of saliva, lack of peristaltic contractions throughout the digestive tract, and other stress changes. It all means the body isn't ready for food.
Because foods change brain chemistry, they can change our mental/emotional state. When our moods are low, it's almost an instinct to look for something that will lift us out of that low mood state.
Even animals do it. Researchers have said that animals don't eat for calories or nutrition per se, but for "optimal arousal."
That's why food choices when we're stressed go in the direction of big brain-chem changes. Sugar is often used as a stress reliever because it triggers changes in brain chemicals that are felt readily.
But other comfort foods are used - and frequently in large quantities. What about mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, spaghetti, biscuits, grilled cheese sandwiches, chips, pizza?
If your favorite comfort food isn't on this list, it's probably still a state-changer.
State changing is the key. You won't binge on broccoli when you're stressed - unless it's smothered in cheese or sauce. That's because broccoli doesn't change brain chem, but the topping will.
Your nutritionist would prefer that you avoid these stress-driven, high-calorie blowouts.
4. Thinking Only About Calories, Not Food Quality
I don't think food (or weight) is only about calories in/calories out. I've even written an article on it because it's an important subject.
Some nutritionists and dietitians do think that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.
As the lead nutritionist in a weight-loss program, I worked with a registered dietitian. One participant had typed "HELP!" next to the brownie listed in her food log.
Here was the dietitian's reply: "This is only X calories, so I'm not worried about it."
The dietitian didn't seem to understand that the brownie might have consequences. My specialty keeps me aware that those consequences could include increased appetite, the onset of cravings, bingeing - any of which could last for several days.
The dietitian also seemed unaware that the brownie might have been a result of something the participant had eaten earlier that day or the day before.
Or that "HELP!" revealed the participant was experiencing a lack of control.
I have never told a client that all calories are equal, or that it's okay to eat a certain amount of sugar if you stay within your calorie limits. When you recognize sugar as a psychoactive drug, calories seem less important.
And this isn't just about sugar. Even though we now know that saturated fats aren't as bad as we were told, most of my clients do realize that fried pork rinds are not a healthful option in a daily food plan. Some foods we should just avoid.
At a recent presentation, a man asked about a non-caloric butter replacement. He started using it to save calories, but the junky chemicals in it made it a poor substitute. A better choice would be coconut oil, raw almond butter, even butter - despite the calories.
Thinking about calories alone leads to eating without focus or mindful attention.
5. Cleaning the House Before Housekeeping Gets There
This is something my clients do frequently. I suppose they expect me to reprimand them for the "bad" stuff they've been eating. (That never happens!)
They cancel, then reschedule appointments for later on, so they can get themselves together to eat well for a week or so - and keep a food log that shows how well they're doing.
I've also had clients cancel follow-up appointments. Follow-ups are arguably the most important appointments. They give us a chance to discuss what has been working and what hasn't.
But the clients reschedule because they weren't implementing the first appointment recommendations.
Yet the reasons they're not implementing could reveal the pitfalls. Not the client's pitfalls, but the moments that throw them off-track. Postponing till they're sure they'll get a gold star misses those valuable discovery points.
And occasionally, unfortunately, I never hear from them, even though they've already paid for the follow-up appointment and have serious health problems that I specialize in and have studied in depth.
A final issue might be "too many cooks." A new client came in after meeting with her physical therapist. She presented a week's worth of food logs, based on her PT's recommendations. This woman needed to make several changes, but was reluctant to do so - because the PT had suggested something else.
When it comes to your nutrition, you're free to do whatever you choose. You can wing it. You can follow steps you've found on websites - there's more nutrition stuff online now than ever before. You can combine many different plans and follow a Paleo diet 2 days a week, the Mediterranean Diet on 2 different days, a vegan diet for 2 days, and a pepperoni pizza and beer binge the last day. Whatever you want.
But you might be eating too much of some things and too little of others, missing vital nutrients. You might skip over key brain chemical info that could make your life easier if you knew it. You might find your appetite out of control and not know why. You might have intense cravings and not know why.
Food isn't as casual as we sometimes treat it. Your nutritionist wishes you'd stop treating it as if it were.
About the Author:
I'm available to help with specific aspects of your health and wellbeing that are directly related to my specialties: diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, persistent low moods, mood swings, cravings, ADD, and more.
Please visit http://www.FoodAddictionSolutions.com
and access your free copy of "3 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Trying To Quit Sugar."