Have you ever typed “what can I eat on X diet” into Google? Only to be bombarded with a whole list of foods that were off limits?
This list can become confusing and honestly pretty daunting. It’s like thinking about “what can I eat on keto” and being overload with a list of foods that are off limits on keto.
It’s honestly probably why a lot of people, including myself, start out with Weight Watchers. Technically no food is off limits on that plan. But if certain foods don’t fit into your points allotment and you’re choosing whether or not to have them, then they’ve technically become off limits.
After five years on Weight Watchers I got really tired of making choices. Choosing foods based on their points value over their nutritional value. Or if those foods made me happy.
When I stopped focusing on all those “off limits” foods and really paying attention to my own body’s needs, that’s when I saw the biggest pay off.
So here’s why making no food off limits can actually help you lose weight.
Turning “what can I eat?” into “what do I want to eat?”
This is a pretty novel concept, huh?
Have you ever asked yourself, “what do I want to eat?” and been completely open to the response? Not shutting yourself down when thoughts like “I want salty chips”.
Too often I hear, mainly women, say “well this isn’t on my diet”. Or “I really want that piece of bread, but it’s not part of my plan.” Or asking themselves “what can I eat” when going out to dinner.
Denying yourself what your body really wants actually leads to overeating in other areas. You’re not solving for the food you want and so you overcompensate with something that is “good” for you.
This is where we actually see weight gain start to happen. You wonder why the diet isn’t working because you’re eating “healthy” you’re sticking to the plan. But if you’re overeating on even the “good” foods, you’re going to lack in the results department.
Holding on to guilt after eating something you “shouldn’t have” or that was off limits is also a recipe for holding on to the weight.
What I’ve learned to be true is that when we do allow ourselves to eat the foods we really want, we eat less of them. We enjoy that food and we move on. Our bodies feel good, and those feel good feelings can lead to weight loss.
Having a cheat meal can lead to binging
I don’t think cheat meals are effective. Not because I think you’re eating “bad” foods and those should be avoided. I mean, this whole article is why no foods should be off limits…ever.
Cheat meals aren’t effective because they truly lead to binging and feelings of shame and guilt.
Even if you’re allowed a cheat meal while on your diet, it’s likely you’re still asking yourself “what can I eat” and then the next day you’re feeling like you need to do better.
Holding on to this shame about what you ate during your cheat meal just makes you hold on to weight.
Cheat meals also encourage binging on the foods that were off limits during the week. If you don’t make any food off limits and allow them any time of the day/week, you’re less likely to crave them.
And as I mentioned above, if you just allow yourself the foods you really want, you’re likely to eat less of them and be fully satisfied.
Your mental health around food is more important than the food itself
After five years of eating intuitively, I’ve come to find that when my mental health around food and my body is in a good place, I actually see better weight loss results.
Rather than asking myself what can I eat and focusing on what my body is actually asking for, my body responds.
I know this seems scary, but it’s only scary because we’ve been taught for at least 150 years, if not more, that our bodies can’t be trusted.
That if we listen to what our bodies want and need we will only want “junk”. But that’s just not the case.
Five years has taught me that after getting rid of the diet feelings, my body was craving nutritious foods. Foods that help it run to the best of its ability.
I also realized that I didn’t need as much as I was eating on my diet to feel full. Really paying attention to those fullness cues made such a huge difference.
Doing the mindset work necessary to get rid of past diet feelings also made a huge difference in my weight loss. Not being afraid of food, or thinking about it 24/7 was a game changer.
How to finally make no foods off limits
If you’ve come this far and aren’t totally skeptical, (and even if you are!) I want to highly encourage you to try intuitive eating.
This practice removes all of the diet feelings. It makes no food off limits. Intuitive eating completely opens you up to choose the foods you really want to eat.
It can be hard to explain the completely free feeling I experience around food. After five years of this practice, I know how to make this a sustainable practice for you so that you can experience:
- Freedom around food
- The ability to choose exactly what you want to eat without following a plan
- Viewing food as a neutral resource (i.e. no more calories, points, macros, etc.)
- Not thinking about food ALL THE TIME
- Not having to track literally everything you eat
If those reasons aren’t reason enough to try intuitive eating, I’m not sure what is.
Yes, making this leap can feel scary, but it’s why I created Eat for Life Collective. It’s a safe and supportive place for you.
It’s where you’ll learn the how-to of intuitive eating (the 12 steps I’ve practiced for the past five years). But also the deeper mindset work.
If you’re someone who’s always struggled with weight loss and body image, this is the safe place for you to dig deep into those. Where you have someone backing you up, who’s been in your shoes.
Literally, if you’ve ever spent any time on a diet and are wondering if there’s something less time consuming out there, Eat for Life Collective is there for you.
Join the Collective today for that supportive community who will lift you up and breathe life back into your life.