Each new year brings hope and motivation to make the days ahead better than those of the previous year. As January comes to a rather quick close, many are finding their resolutions have also peaked along the way. The result? Frustrated and hopeless feelings that achieving a healthy weight is unattainable, and intentions are being set to “try again” before bathing suit season.  Why does this continue year after year after year? There is actually a very simple answer to this seemingly complex question: DIETS DON’T WORK.

You may have heard this notion before but admit it, you are still skeptical of the idea that weight loss can be achieved by any other means besides excessive food restriction and obsessive exercise.  These days diets have a wide range of titles to choose from and, in addition to providing the surface task of weight loss, are often perceived as being “good for us”. In fact, US News & World Report has even ranked the best diets for 2014 that are actually rated by top health experts such as Dr David Katz who gives an insider view of how these diets were poorly compared.  Ranked at the very bottom of this list was one of the hottest diet trends of 2013, the Paleo diet, which essentially removes all processed foods as well as grains, dairy, and legumes.  According to Michael Pollan, a well-respected author and researcher in the food industry, the problem with the Paleo diet is its lack of nutrition for many reasons. While each said “diet” definitely has some beneficial components of healthy eating, they all ignore the intuitive eating approach that is required to make a lifetime of healthy habits.

The real question I’d like you to ponder is “Have you ever given it a try to do things a little differently and actually listen to your body instead of a diet trend?”.  Now let’s be clear, this isn’t an easy task for anyone, especially not if you have a history of dieting, unsatisfied body image, negative self esteem, and a keen ability to ignore your body’s hunger and fullness cues. It’s also not a task best left up to your own devices, and requires both education and guidance as you discover your body’s innate ability to self regulate. This is a rather large mental shift for most people who find themselves compelled to jump on the scale on a daily basis or count the calories of every morsel that goes into their mouth.

Mindfulness is a way of life that extends to every aspect of your day. The ultimate goal is to be able to be happy and healthy without the unnecessary burdens of self-judgment and scrutiny. I invite you to look in the mirror and really see yourself today without the harsh judgment that might usually surround your physical appearance. I invite you to really enjoy your food today and savor each and every bite for it’s deliciousness rather than it’s caloric weight.  You may be surprised by the level of satisfaction that can be achieved off a smaller portion of food when eaten in full acceptance.  After all, isn’t our goal to be able to eat whatever food we want in whatever quantity we want without guilt or worry AND be healthy while doing so? Wouldn’t we want our children to have a relationship with food that was as freeing as this? We must create this relationship within ourselves in order to teach and role model these behaviors in our children.

Stay tuned for next month’s article on how to become a “Mindful Mom at Mealtimes”.