Is your Nutra-Neurosis Ruining Your Relationship with Food?

If this is how you view food then you've got some work to do

Forget the old adage ‘sex sells’, in this new age of diet and nutrition it is fear that sells.

Nutrition and eating right is no longer about making the right choice, it’s about the fear of making the wrong choice.

We’ve become stressed and anxious about making food choices. And because we make food choices all day long, this has become a chronic anxiety. Sadly, it is this anxiety that the mainstream media constantly tries to channel.

Tips on how to eat healthy are no longer about eating right, they’ve become a guide to not eating wrong.

You can see it in headlines of most nutrition articles. You never see “Are you doing these 4 things right?”, instead it’s always “Are you making these 4 mistakes?”, or “Are these 4 mistakes sabotaging your weight loss?”

I am the author of a best selling e-book on the benefits of intermittent fasting (Eat Stop Eat). The majority of the concerns people have over intermittent fasting isn’t whether or not it will work, it’s whether or not it’s considered ‘doing something wrong’.

We’ve become paranoid about health and nutrition, about cancer, about hormones in or food, in how our food affects our leptin, or insulin, or testosterone. We are afraid of our food and our food decisions. And this fear is exhausting.

Oddly enough, it is this fear, worry and anxiety that actually drives us to over eat.

There is mounting evidence to suggest that our nutra-neurosis (yes, I made that term up) is contributing to our weight gain and our fractured view of healthy eating.

In other words our attempt at a cure may be worse than the poison.

Our anxiety and stress leads to us attempting to gain control or at least grasp at it. And more often than not control means lists and charts. Specifically, it means lists of good foods and bad foods.

In research we call this ‘restrained eating’.

Restrained eating is when you consciously avoid certain foods or food groups. Right away I should note that this is different from simple caloric restriction. In fact the two have very little in common.

Caloric Restriction is eating less (of any food); Restraining Eating is labelling some foods as ‘forbidden’ or ‘bad’

Restrained eating is associated with increased stress and anxiety over the foods you choose to eat. Surprisingly it is also an incredibly effective method for short-term weight loss.

Unfortunately, research also indicates that the more foods you designate as bad or forbidden (or the more restrained you are) the more likely you are to crack, crash and binge after eating one of those foods.

Setting up an extensive list of forbidden foods may be a way to find short-term weight loss, but it is not a tool for weight maintenance or a satisfying relationship with food. It’s a recipe for increased anxiety, neurosis and obsessive-compulsive disorders and never being truly in control of your eating.

It’s also a great way to watch your weight spiral out of control, despite your almost neurotic attempts to control what you eat.

Instead, you should be striving to eliminate the stress and anxiety from your approach to foods.

Do you have "Nutra-Neurosis"?

Worry and anxiety are not ‘keys’ to weight loss. If anything they are weight gain enablers and diet destroyers. They are also most likely far worse for your health than that bowl of ice cream you are stressing over.

So stress less over doing things wrong and concentrate on doing things right. I know it sounds like I’m playing with words, but your approach and mindset matters.

Try to slowly move away from the idea of forbidden food lists and instead think of foods you eat more often, less often, and very infrequently.

This way all foods have their place, none are ‘bad’, and you can enjoy them without guilt.

The truth is weight loss and eating healthy will never be some mind-blowing genius nutrition trick. It will always be a matter of clearing out the clutter of competing ideas and focusing on the one thing that truly makes a difference – The amount you eat.

Eating properly does take an understanding of when you like to eat and what you like to eat, but just as important is the patience to wait for these opportunities to occur.

And really, just a little patience – a slight pause – is all most of us need to realize “I don’t need this”, or “I can wait until dinner” or even “I can wait until tomorrow – I’ve had enough today”.

Do not deny yourself the foods you love. Just learn when to eat them and how much to eat.  And please remember – weight loss and eating healthy doesn’t have to hurt.

The goal should not be to suffer for your dietary indiscretions. The goal should be to have the body you want while still eating the foods you want.  Because the stress and anxiety is almost always worse than the food you are craving.

The goal is to make other people think you are getting way with murder.  To be the person who can ‘eat whatever they want and still lose weight’? Go ahead be the one they gossip about when you’re not around.

Ditch the neurosis and stress. Stop letting food decisions be a source of exhaustion.

Lose weight and have a croissant? You betcha. You can do it.