• Why I Don’t Do Diets

    May 29, 2012

    The main reason why I don’t do diets: beer!!

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    But, seriously, I’ll get into why I don’t do diets in minute. Let’s first recap my eats!

    Ok, beer really is a big reason though.

    Dinner

    While I cooked dinner last night, I sipped on a Left Hand Milk Stout, which is one of my new favorite beers. I first tried it at Picco back in February, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It’s so smooth and flavorful—it’s definitely a sipper.

    Left Hand actually makes a bunch of great beers, so if you haven’t checked out this brewery yet, please do!

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    On the menu for dinner last night: Shrimp & Avocado Omelets. They turned out great—delicious and super duper filling.

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    Breakfast

    For breakfast this morning, I whipped up a batch of “Oatmeal” Minus the Oats in a nearly empty Teddie Peanut Butter jar, but this batch wasn’t completely oat-less.

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    I added about a 1/2 cup of Plain Jane peanut butter granola that Lauren gave me yesterday. I ate a little bit of it after dinner last night and immediately knew that I wanted to incorporate it into breakfast this morning. Mmm!

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    Weekly Workouts

    • Sunday: Run to Remember Half Marathon
    • Monday: 2 miles
    • Tuesday: CrossFit (WOD includes 1 mile)
    • Wednesday: 2 miles + CrossFit
    • Thursday: 2 miles + CrossFit
    • Friday: 2 miles
    • Saturday: 2 miles

    Why I Don’t Do Diets

    The other day, I received this dieting infographic (click to enlarge) from DietDiva.com in my inbox:

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    The statistics on the right side didn’t really surprise me, but I found the graph on the left side to be really interesting.

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    It shows what percentage of your dietary intake comes from what food source on different popular diets. For example, if you decide to try a raw diet, you can see that most of your calories will come from grains, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Where on a South Beach Diet, you will get almost equal amounts of each food group except for grains, and, surprisingly, it seems that this plan is high in sugars.

    Interesting data, right? It’s really neat to see these different diets presented in this way. I’m not generally a fan of diets, but it’s still interesting to see how they stack up against one another. With that said, let me briefly explain why I don’t do diets—I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Paleo, so I want to explain that too.

    Even though people say Paleo is a “way of life” or a “lifestyle,” I still see it as a diet. Basically, I see any way of eating that restricts or cuts out an entire food group(s) as a diet. Maybe some people can sustain a certain way of eating for the long-term, but, personally, I think life is too long to not enjoy all kinds of foods. I need cake in my life, dammit!

    When I first started CrossFit, I tried a Paleo-esque diet. I never fully cut out grains or dairy—I love beer and cheese way too much to ever eliminate them—but I increased my intake of meat, veggies, and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, coconut), which satisfied me better than my previous way of eating and helped me take control of my sugar cravings. (I still can’t get over how my once-crazy sugar cravings are almost nonexistent now. Eating less sugar also helped me lose a few pounds!) Changing up how I ate with Paleo in mind helped me eat healthier overall, but sticking to a diet just isn’t for me.

    The diet that works best for me is eating mostly fruits and vegetables (lots of bananas and sweet potatoes), meat, fish, beans, whole grains (quinoa, bulgur, barley), nuts, and nut butters. When I can, I try to avoid trans fats (obviously), wheat (it’s generally tough on the digestive system), and soy (check out Michael Pollan’s reasoning), but I’m not super strict with these things. I truly love food (both “good” and “bad” – this blog is called Carrots ‘N’ Cake after all), so I just try to do my best and balance my choices. I also never want to turn down a food I want to eat just because it’s not part of my diet.

    Question of the Day

    What do you think about diets? What is your way of eating?

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    { 103 comments… read them below or add one }

    Annette@FitnessPerks May 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    AMEN. Diets are set up to fail–I don’t care who creates them. They will always inherently mess with the person because diets are negative and create an “I want that” mentality b/c it is restrictive. Any way of eating that is viewed as restrictive will not last and will not be healthy to a person’s body and life. Promise!

    Great points! Dieting is lamesauce and I want to help everyone who thinks they need to do it stop doing it and love who they are and what they eat!! :) Let’s celebrate what we do get to enjoy -and enjoy the ‘not-so-great-stuff’ in moderation!!

    Reply

    Tina May 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Haha! I agree with “lamesauce”!

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    Michele May 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Nice to read your thoughts on Paleo. This is kind of how I’m approaching it too — I’m calling it Paleo-Inspired. I still eat Greek yogurt almost every day and will never give that up, but I find that I’m feeling much better after significantly reducing the gluten and grains.

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    eliza May 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I agree, Tina. This is why I love your blog!! You make me feel normal for not being on a diet.

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    Alyssa (pb and oatmeal) May 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I love this! How you eat can so often dictate your happiness- healthy and happy or dieting and deprived!

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    Beks May 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I noticed that I did best when I ate whole foods and allowed splurges in moderation. I’ve been trying to incorporate eating like that again, but I live with my parents, which makes it difficult, as they don’t have the same eating philosophy. Just wish I could afford to live on my own again. I do agree with most people, though. Restrictive diets are a complete turn off.

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    B @ crags and veggies May 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I’m not a diet person whatsoever. Eating healthy all the time with indulgences along the way is a much better plan. Not allowing yourself indulgences (like beer) just won’t work. Better to let yourself treat and balance out with healthy the majority of the time! I could never give up chocolate haha!

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    liz May 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I agree, diets are stupid. I like the whole mantra of the Paleo diet (eat whole foods) but it irritates me that the majority of people are doing it wrong. In order to follow a paleo diet you need to buy grass fed meat, pastured chickens, pastured eggs etc. Majority of the time you can not find these at grocery stores, only farmers markets. The implications of eating large amounts of meats/eggs that are not raised in these traditional ways (aka factory farms) could potentially be damaging to ones future health. Plus they are terrible for the environment and the animals. As someone who is conscious about the environmental impact of my food choices, I worry about the mass marketing of the paleo diet. In my opinion it is not sustainable or healthy (if done incorrectly, like the majority of Americans).
    Sorry just had to throw my two cents in. I am a MPH/RD student and I think the issue of sustainable meat/fish is really important not just for environment but nutrition

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    Tina May 29, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you for this comment!

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    Katie May 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Love your thoughts on this and thank you for a wonderful post!

    I find diets super boring. Counting calories, restricting certain foods… boring. :) I’d rather eat whatever I want within the appropriate portion size to give me the nutrients and energy I need (not over-doing it daily to the point of being in a food-coma), and just enjoying life.

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    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama May 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Diets are a don’t! I believe in the 80/20 rule for eating – 80% whole natural foods, 20% treats (preferably natural treats).

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    Tina May 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Ditto! :)

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    Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy May 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I think your approach is so smart. I have been reading about Paleo a little bit more and even though I used to think if I was going to cut something out it would be the opposite and I’d probably try veganism, I realize more and more that for me, eating WHOLE FOOD that agrees with my body and not setting restrictions/rules is best for me! Intuitive eating, in a way, but this didn’t happen overnight. :)

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    Moira May 29, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you for acknowledging the dangers of dieting! I’m in treatment for a really pervasive and long-lasting eating disorder, and my anorexia started with dieting. This won’t happen to everyone who diets, obviously, but an unhealthy preoccupation with food will take you to nasty places. Real food, real portions, eating when you’re hungry-stuff that is natural to so many, I’m learning as an adult.

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    Danielle May 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I love this post! I have tried pretty much every diet out there only to learn that they just don’t work for me. CrossFit and Paleo have done wonders for me in terms of learning how to balance my nutrition. I eat mostly Paleo but don’t follow it super strict. If I want something non-Paleo I will have it and am totally okay with it! I think it is all about finding a balance that works best for you as an individual.

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    Laura May 30, 2012 at 11:03 am

    @Danielle:

    I am same way. I eat Paleo, but won’t pass up a warm crusty piece of bread or a treat if I want one. I just try to keep those instances few and far between because that is what makes me feel my best. I don’t feel deprived at all, I eat very well! Eating Paleo is a long-term thing for me, not just a quick fix. I’m definitely against any quick fix, juice/cookie/whatever weird thing they come up with diet. The one thing I didn’t like about this post and some of the comments is that people seem to think cutting something out of your diet automatically means you are restricting and miserable. I really don’t miss anything I don’t eat. If I did, this way of eating wouldn’t work for me, so I wouldn’t do it.

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    Debbie May 29, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I have always disliked dieting. It seems that most diets result in more troubling issues and problems then they do any positive results. Also, I feel that dieting emotionally hurts the dieter. Most people can’t stick to these crazy diets that are out there now and in turn the dieter winds up making themselves feel terrible because they couldn’t stick to the diet. I don’t like that. I wish people could see that just making some better food choices on a daily basis can make all the difference. :)

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    Elizabeth May 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Just to play devil’s advocate (I am an RD)…
    .. while I don’t ever like the idea of “going on a diet” as a temporary thing, the word diet is actually a fine word. We all have a diet. The foods that we typically eat make up our diet. That might be a “Western-style” diet, a healthy diet, a vegetarian diet, a French diet, etc. So there’s nothing wrong to show a graph with a visual representation of the composition of different diets. It’s just a way to show how they differ.
    I think what we don’t like is the concept of unnecessary restriction as the only way to achieve a (temporary at best) goal. But for those of us who live, breathe and study nutrition, diets are something that we compare and study. So the word isn’t evil, just the interpretation :)

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    Laura May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

    @Elizabeth:
    Thanks for this comment! You said exactly what was bugging me a bit with this post. I’m a nutrition student too :)

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    Lindsay May 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    have you heard of the Diet Cure, Mood Cure, Food Cure books by Julia Ross? just curious what your thoughts were, if you have read them or heard of them…

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    Tina May 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Never heard of them. Sorry!

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    Alaina May 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I’m just skipping over the comments so it might have already been said, but I’m surprised that the chart lists vegans, but not vegetarians. I actually don’t see veganism as being a “diet” at all; it’s more just a way of life that people like to eat what comes from the earth, not from an animal.

    But I agree that diets are a big no-no. Whenever I tried a diet, I would just start craving what I missed and end up eating that particular food non-stop. Moderation is key! :-)

    Reply

    Katie May 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I’m on Weight Watchers, which (as others have mentioned), I don’t really see as a “diet”. I was already eating pretty healthy- no soda, very few processed foods, etc- but my problem has always been portion size. When I stopped drinking soda/stopped eating so much processed food/started making all of my meals instead of fast food-ing every once in a while, I lost some weight…but I had a very significant amount to lose (almost half my bodyweight) and it became very clear that my portion sizes were what I should be blaming. I still eat the same types of food I ate before, but the WW points system has ensured that I’m eating appropriate portion sizes and keeping me accountable for my choices. Previously, if I decided to have a large cupcake from the “cupcakery” in town, I would have it and just kind of call my efforts off for the day- whereas now, I know that it’s ok for me to have that cupcake but I either need to save half for another day or cut down my snacks elsewhere…which was something that never really clicked. I don’t think I would have been nearly as successful as I have been if I didn’t clean up what I was eating first, though.

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    Cait's Plate May 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Love it! I don’t do diets either. I’m much happier listening to my body, eating what I want and balancing it out with exercise!

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    StoriesAndSweetPotatoes May 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    What an interesting chart. All those diets make me feel like we should just be having a variety of everything…no need to make a decision ;)

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    Tina May 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Exactly! Well said! :)

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    kelly May 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    As a life-long dieter, 30+ years, I appreciate this post and all the comments. I have tried them all and have the extra 100 pounds to prove it. Now I am struggling to listen to my body and give it what it wants but the “advice” running in my head is still so loud. Thanks, Tina, for your great example.

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    Hillary May 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I just don’t think diets work, at least not in the long run. If you want to make changes in your eating habits, it needs to become a full lifestyle, not a temporary solution. I try to eat whole, real foods, with an emphasis on veggies and fruits, lean proteins, and healthy grains—with some cookies and ice cream thrown in for good measure!

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    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats May 29, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I recently found out that I can’t have gluten or soy and since then I’ve had a hard time with any kind of “diet.” I think it’s because I’m already so restricted, any other food groups being eliminated freaks me out!

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    Debbie (Accidently Delish) May 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    first off. I LOVE THAT BEER. I bought it in a random build your own 6-pack (probably cause of the cow on the label, i’m such a sucker for pretty bottles) and fell in love!

    second. diets are ridiculous. following any “rule” basically sets you up for failure. What we all need to learn is to listen to our bodies and it will tell us when it’s had enough, what it needs and what it doesn’t like. and allow ourselves to enjoy what we eat. if you don’t enjoy what you are eating you will either eat more, or flat out be unhappy. life is too short to count “man-made” calories. who REALLY knows how many calories is in something anyways.

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    Melissa May 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I’m not a fan of diets. Every time a “new” diet plan comes out or there’s something about diets on a news program, they all end up saying the same thing: eat right and exercise and everything in moderation. And it’s so true. After some struggle that resulted from living in the ballet world as well as having a very Type A personality, I’ve finally gotten better at this. It’s the only way I can eat what I want without going overboard and stay healthy.

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    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 29, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Ditto to what you said! I don’t support any diet that cuts out entire food groups – they’re way too restrictive and they are lacking so many important nutrients! I’m more of a fan of the idea of a lifestyle change for someone looking to lose weight, and that’s what I will promote when I become an RD! :)

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    Amy @Health Hungry May 29, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Just say no to DIEting!!! I was just talking about you today Tina… You are my ideal in food relationship modeling… I have never, in the 3 years(has it really been that long?!) that I’ve followed your blog – once heard you shame yourself for any food choices. I also love that you unapologetically eat what you eat, mostly healthy whole foods – and when it’s not, it’s what you want!
    I have a tendency to be restrictive, then binge on those foods(I just blogged about it!) It happens when I don’t even see it coming… Sneaky diet -y behaviors! I lost 200lbs. On a popular diet plan, but I gained it back for a variety of reasons.
    The key for me is learning to nourish my body with food, and learn when I’m looking to food to alter my feelings… Life is meant to be enjoyed; accepting the variety of body sizes, experiences, and options is so important.
    Diets don’t work because they can’t make one solution work for every diverse body. We are unique and should celebrate, not shame that!

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    Tina May 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Aww, thanks for the sweet comment! :) Great points too! Everyone needs to find their own “diet.”

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    Melanie_F May 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    For me, a diet is when a way of eating is too restrictive or it makes you not eat enough. We are all on some type of “diet”. A “diet” is our way of eating, whether be a vegetarian, a vegan, a western, a mediterranean or other type of “diet”, we all have things we eat and things we don’t eat.

    I follow weight watchers to help me lose 40+ pounds. I like the flexibility to eat the foods I enjoy, and to help me take control of myself as well because I knew i was eating too much.

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    Elle @ nutritionella May 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I totally agree! I’ve found that dieting leads one to obsess over what you can’t or shouldn’t have and lots of feelings of disappointment. It’s easier to learn how to prepare healthful, delicious meals and eat those the majority of the time – and not fret about one night of cheeseburgers, fries and beer!

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    Michelle May 30, 2012 at 12:54 am

    I agree that “diets” that restrict your eating or cut out one or more food groups are unrealistic and usually fail in the long run. Very few people, in my experience, can stick with such restrictions for the long term. I personally believe in moderation in all things, I try to eat as healthy as possible most of the time, but allow for the occasional treats (& beers) along the way.

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    Katherine @ marie & james May 30, 2012 at 9:38 am

    What a great image of the different diets! I just love reading your blog because you don’t “diet”. I too don’t diet but eat healthy and exercise. Right after college, I restricted meats and fats. I was miserable and my body was unhappy. Once I changed my mindset and eating habits, I got my life back. I am beyond happy and my body is in harmony. I also think diets are a good tool to overhaul and jump start a healthy lifestyle but they are not forever.

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    Ryan Knapp May 30, 2012 at 10:06 am

    All I had to do was read the first line and that was that!

    Diet is a temporary solution. Changing your lifestyle is when something truly sticks.

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    Anna May 30, 2012 at 10:24 am

    What an interesting article! I am trying different “diets” this month on my blog including vegan, gluten-free, paleo, and raw. It has been a fun experiment so far but I definitely am like you in that I don’t do well on “diets.” I do think everything in moderation and that is what will provide you the best healthy foundation for Life-Long Health (not just a temporary fix!)

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    Ashley May 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Great post! After years of struggling with eating disorders and disordered eating, I had finally gotten to the point where, mentally, I was OK not being on a diet. But over the years, my quest for having a healthy, balanced diet got a bit out of whack. I was eating waaay to much grains (healthy, whole wheat!) and dairy (hormone free!), and my body is rebelling. I have been transitioning to a gluten- and dairy-free diet for the past few weeks. On a philosophical level, I don’t agree with diets, but I can’t argue with how my body feels. It’s been a great opportunity to rebalance my diet with different grains, healthy fats, and vegetables. I’m working with a wellness coach, and we’re going to try to eventually reintroduce these foods in moderation, but right now I need a break from them.

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    Stephanie @My Freckled Life May 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I love this honest look at diets, because I completely agree! My fiance’s family is huge on this diet or that diet, and they are constantly following them for a few weeks, falling off the wagon, and starting a new one. I tend to use some diets as reference points, but I also think it’s important to be able to live a normal life and be happy with the foods you are eating, or you’re just going to be a miserable person! Thank you for the great thoughts on dieting!

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    Nikki June 1, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I agree with you and don’t do diets. Not a beer drinker but do love Tequila!
    That being said I try to keep everything in moderation and balanced with healthy foods and exercise. But not at the expense of a few sweets now and then!

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    Megan @ Weddings and Workouts June 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Hmmm, I swear I commented on this post but looks like I didn’t!

    I really love this post and your philosophy. I’ve spent a long time on diets-that-aren’t-diets-they’re-a-lifestyle, and have only recently realised that yes, they are in fact diets. Figuring out what works best for you is, in my opinion, the best way to go about eating, not doing something because someone has told you to!

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    Kelly July 15, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I don’t do diets period dash dot. None of them. I eat what I’m hungry for when I am hungry for it most of the time. Suprisingly enough that DOES include a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains….but I eat them because I like them… I also really like ice cream and homemade chocolate chip cookies (homemade any baked good except brownies which I don’t really care for and most cakes which just don’t agree with me). I don’t believe in avoiding anything and I do believe in all things in moderation.

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    Rachel July 20, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Just came across this post and loved it! It sums up my feelings about the Paleo diet perfectly. Having tried it, I figured out that telling myself I can’t have something just makes me crave it even more. It really is all about balance. Great post.

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    Sally Asher October 10, 2012 at 3:35 am

    I admit I tried 42 different diets, before finally giving myself permission to eat all foods and losing 25 lbs for good. Dieting made me feel deprived, guilty and ultimately resulted in rebound overeating. While living in Paris with a French family, I quit dieting and lost weight eating like the French – delicious fresh food, eaten mindfully at the table and lots of incidental exercise. I also had to learn to manage uncomfortable feelings without turning to food – that was the most challenging part! I love your blog and balanced approach!

    Reply

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