Monday, July 15, 2013

Changing Desire

Continuing from the previous blog, perhaps the strongest internal motivator that participants develop with N.E.W. LIFE is feeling better

Individuals often share in Weeks 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the N.E.W. LIFE program that they feel better, and that they don’t feel good eating the same high-fat, meat, and/or junk foods that they used to eat regularly.  This is the motivation that is more certain to last for life.  N.E.W. LIFE participants are often amazed when their desires change (I am not surprised at the changes, but I am surprised at how quickly people report feeling better and experience changed desires).  No “all-or-nothing” diets necessary, just small, realistic and achievable changes.  Simply pick something that is missing in your diet.  For example, do you eat 3 fruits/day?  Choose something you actually like but are just not in the habit of doing.  If you like apples and your diet is regularly short on fruit, get a bag of apples from the store and just add one apple a day for the next week.  Little changes truly do go a long way! 

The N.E.W. LIFE philosophy is not to eliminate food, deny cravings, or unnecessarily restrict.  Deprivation usually serves to exacerbate cravings and increase preoccupation or obsession with food.  Your focus should be on putting in missing exchanges (i.e., eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables) then the fluff foods begin to get crowded out, not to eliminate the foods you desire and then expect to eat more vegetables!  It is a lot harder (if possible at all for most people) to effect any change from that perspective.  The most effective change comes with adding healthy foods that may be chronically missing in your diet, then your body, tastes, and desires can change.  So focus on what to eat and the other foods will be modified over time.  Eat enough healthy food and it will soon “crowd out” the less healthy choices, simultaneously lead to a healthier body, and eventually (and surprisingly soon for most people) lead to a change of desire.  Your motivation need not be “should-shouldn’t” or “good food-bad food”.  Support your body with the healthy foods it was created to thrive on and let your healthy body reject junk and unhealthy food--or at least the excess of it--then you won't feel deprived. . . 
Since your focus should be on the addition of missing healthy foods, not elimination of unhealthy foods, you can give yourself permission to respond to a desire you may have for a piece of chocolate, ice cream, etc.  If you feel you are out of balance regarding certain foods focus on eating the recommended (usually missing) foods and the other things will come into balance.  Ask yourself, “Am I eating enough whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegees?” A lot of people have become “carbo-phobic” on low-carb diets (a topic for another blog), resulting in chronic low blood sugar and almost constant cravings (also part of the preoccupation with food), not to mention contributing to nutrient and fiber deficiencies.  Do not deprive yourself!  Make sure you are eating enough carbs (whole grains, fruits, vegees, beans, nuts, seeds and dairy) and have the chocolate if it is “calling” you, but in small amounts.  To “not deprive” yourself does not mean to overindulge yourself.  Satisfy the craving with a small amount and, please, enjoy it without guilt!  People who struggle with chocolate often have the opposite struggle going on--trying to get chocolate totally out of their life!  Whether the reason is “good” (for health) or “bad” (because you feel compulsive with chocolate and desire to “control” it) you are probably not going to outlast your desire to have it.  So break free from any cycles of deprivation-rebound overeating (restricting the chocolate and then bingeing on it) and realize that an important part of breaking the cycle is permission.  FYI, chocolate is actually healthy, but that’s a topic for another time.
Of course, the nutrition education about unhealthy foods can serve to strengthen your motivation and choices too.  When N.E.W. LIFE participants see a ream of fat being pulled out of an artery it is a little harder to eat too many Big Macs.  The main focus, however, should be on eating a healthy diet, not restrictively dieting.  It’s best not to try to deny desires, but rather to change them.  Your body and desires will change as you get healthy.  It takes time.  It takes being gentle with yourself.  While weight-loss may take a little longer than other “quick diets” you may have tried before, most people are surprised at how quickly their body and tastes and desires do change.  The bottom line--it lasts a lifetime.

Just a few of many testimonies from N.E.W. LIFE participants demonstrate the point:

A Fort Collins Youth Clinic nurse mentioned that she used to go to Estes Park and have a high-fat breakfast every Saturday morning, but on the most recent occasion (during the 10-week program) she did so and “didn’t feel good all day”.
A Fort Collins pastor mentioned that he had a steak (about week 6 of the 10-week program) and he had trouble sleeping all night.  (I never told him not to have a steak—it is on the Eating Plan!)

A Greeley school-district administrator mentioned that she had a hot dog (at week 5 or 6 of the 10-week program) and it “sat with her” for 5 hours.  She was surprised because she was used to eating hot dogs every day. 
An Australian graduate student from Colorado State University said that she went on her Friday night binge with her friends (at about week 6 of the 10-week program) and she did not like how she felt, that she did not want to do that anymore. 

A Loveland businessman announced at week 1 of the N.E.W. LIFE program that he wasn’t sure he could “do” this program because his lifestyle included eating out several times every week, usually 6-12 ounce steaks.  I assured him that he didn’t need to be perfect and to do what he could, and that any change would matter.  He announced to the class at about week 6 with much enthusiasm that he was “sold” and was surprised himself at how fully satisfied he was with only 3-4 ounce portions of steak and that he “couldn’t eat any more!”

A year after getting married my husband called from a 2-week Navy duty and asked what I had done to him.  He ate a plate of ribs (which he used to do all the time growing up in Texas) and got sick.  He couldn’t wait to come home to a good garden fresh salad.  Just a little rinsing of meat and addition of beans to the traditional chili recipe over time.

A 23-year-old young lady from Fort Collins Women’s Clinic came to session 3 distressed after receiving the Eating Plan at week 2--she said it was too much food.  I calmed her down and told her I could work with her individually, but asked if she had lost any weight that week?  She said, "5 lbs."!  I told her she was going to have to figure out how to eat more food because that was too much weight-loss, but in the next breath she added, as if amazed, “But it’s the first weekend in 10 years I didn’t binge.”  Why?  Because she started eating.  On the week 10 Food Diary this same gal wrote, “Thank you. The French-fries made me sick.”  I never told her not to eat a French-fry—they too are on the Eating Plan!

Other N.E.W. LIFE alumni have said,

·        “Made eating healthier much easier after 10 weeks with N.E.W. LIFE.”

·       “It was just wonderful to think of food nutritionally (fuel) and not as can have and never in your life have.”

·        “It was very informative and easy to follow.”

·        “I feel better and people tell me I look better/thinner.”

·        “I am having a more positive attitude toward myself and others.”

·        Energy level: “definite improvement.”

·        “I am free of the body image/self esteem problem I used to have.  I have the most up-to-date information in order to make healthy choices. I no longer chain myself to deprivation diets--but I feel great, about myself and my health.”

·        “It’s a terrific program!  Very educational and motivational!”

·        “It’s an absolutely terrific class!”

·      “It’s truly exciting to think I don’t have to ‘restrict’ to lose weight.  I simply need to change my selections of foods and increase consumption!!”

·       “Just generally feel better.”

This, dear reader, is the motivation that lasts.

Enjoy feeling better,
Diane Preves, M.S., R.D.

Thank you for sharing this post with others who might benefit from the information shared herein.  Please contact me if you would like to host a 10-week N.E.W. LIFE program on Long Island.

1 comment:

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