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A diet that actually WORKS! Please let this not be another fad diet with empty promises that guarantee weight loss in a radical way but really do nothing much at all. Is it a drink, a pill to take, a powder, a group of foods to eat or not eat?

What is this diet that works, and what makes it different to all other fad diets?

Let’s start with the word diet. Immediately it conjures up connotations of denying, avoiding, abstaining and control. “What do I have to DO this time?” you may ask. The word diet often makes people cringe, and perhaps quite rightly so too.

What if the word diet simply referred to ‘the foods you choose to eat’ or ‘the range of foods that support your body’ or ‘food types that do not make you feel ill’ – then it becomes a personal thing, don’t you agree? Maybe the word diet simply refers to the types of food that I have determined support me most to stay light and aware, open to explore what is happening in any moment, and undisturbed in my body.

That makes food a very powerful component of our life – in a very personal way.

It doesn’t matter if the range of food is 100 types for me or 10 types for you, it’s really about having a healthy relationship with food and not so much about categorising foods ‘healthy’ and ‘not healthy’, nor is it about getting to a dress size or a particular weight on the scales.

Perhaps what is needed is to take the true meaning of diet back to being a very personal way of eating that supports where we are at and what our body may need at any given time, rather than using the word to promote the latest fad diet to lose weight; something fabricated as a result of our current lavish way of consuming food.

There are foods I once ate, but they began to make me feel ill or adversely affected me in some way.

Living on a dairy farm, there was milk straight from the milk vat and boy-o-boy did I live on that. Milk did not agree with me though, creating a runny nose and mucus that my body had to deal with. I also suffered from asthma and other lung infections from time to time. So for me, after 35 years, my relationship with milk came to an end and now the taste some years later is one that I do not enjoy.

There are vitamins I used to take to try to feel well that actually made me feel sick too. How could this be? We are told that vitamins are ‘good’ for us, with all the minerals and nutrients that we need. I overrode my sickness for a while, until I realised that my body was too sensitive to take vitamins, and too sensitive for a lot of other foods too.

It’s not just about feeling sick from particular foods, but also how foods make me feel. If I have a bowl of pasta (even gluten-free pasta) I know I will feel sleepy, sluggish, dense, with a heaviness in my belly. I know I don’t feel sharp or responsive and I won’t want to really connect with people . . . I’ll just want to sleep or lie down and maybe watch TV. That’s when I know that a particular food is not really for me and is not to be a part of my diet or range of foods anymore.

Even hot drinks. I started years ago drinking coffee with a lot of full cream milk, but when I became pregnant I didn’t drink it at all because I was told it wasn’t good for the baby. I moved to decaffeinated coffee instead, with cow’s milk of course. Two years later without any caffeine in my body at all, I tried a cappuccino and instantly became shaky and racy and my thoughts were crazy. Abstaining from caffeine allowed me to really feel its effects.

I moved then to cups of tea and I thought I really liked the taste, but one day my tastes changed and I didn’t like it anymore. So I moved to rooibos with soy, to rooibos alone and nowadays I’m not really interested in rooibos at all.

The point is, a food is neither right or wrong – it is, or is not, for me at a particular time. It isn’t about controlling my diet, it just fades away as I change on the inside.

And that is the key – when I change on the inside.

If I had to label my previous way of eating I would say that my diet was based on emotions. It wasn’t about the food, it was about me and how I was dealing with relationships and life itself.

When I felt uncomfortable, upset, stressed, tense or worthless I would look to comfort myself by eating particular foods that made me less aware and then I didn’t have to really feel all that I could feel. I didn’t want to deal with my issues. Instead I would eat my troubles away, hoping that a large serve of chocolate self-saucing pudding might do the trick – but of course those things that disturbed me never really went away at all. My body shape would change, and weight would position itself on different parts of my body . . . some places more than others!

I could go from a size 10 to squeezing into a size 12 quite quickly. If a relationship ended, then weight would fall off to a size 6. Too much and too quickly. I didn’t always look vital and healthy, and at other times I might have looked like I had an OK figure, but my relationship with myself and with food was not healthy at all.

I was choosing an emotional diet that was volatile, up and down depending on my emotions. I used food to console me from the uncomfortable inner tension that made me squirm and want to run away from my body, instead of eating in a way that would ignite my Soul.

We need to place the focus on feelings and honouring what is there – not food.

For me, the foods I introduce and eliminate are forever changing, depending on whether it makes me sick or has an effect in a way that I don’t like. I’m not following a rule book and I’m not following what other people say I should be eating either.

I’m simply feeling for myself what it is that my own body wants and does not want – how easy is that?

This is a way of life, a diet I am eating that has no boundaries.

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What is the best diet for me?

Choosing what to eat is not about losing weight or following the latest diet, it is an individual process of self-discovery as your body tells you what food best suits you.

Even today, I know that I am still very much attracted to certain foods where I have undealt-with issues. For example, if I have a difficult day at work, then I might immediately start longing for hot chips and will have a conversation with myself similar to this:

“I’m so getting chips on the way home.”

“No don’t do that, they aren’t good for you.”

“I don’t care. I’m getting those chips. I’m going to park the car, do the school pick up, cross the road and get those chips.”

You can imagine how annoyed I was one day when I couldn’t find my purse and had to drive home chip-less and still loaded with emotions. As it turns out, my purse was in the car all along, but had fallen under the seat out of sight and out of my reach. It felt like a terrible trick – which I’m glad was not caught on video.

But what if these situations were approached with conversations with myself just like this:

“I’m so getting hot chips on the way home.”

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing, I just want hot chips.”

“What’s really going on? Why are you in such a state to get hot chips?”

“Because at work today . . . ”

“But why are you reacting? Why does this hurt?”

“I felt . . . “

This second approach is much more honest and helps build a healthy relationship with food because you aren’t eating emotions and hurts, you are identifying what is really going on. It leaves eating alone, purely for the function of nourishment of the body . . . what it really needs.

It is important here to admit that even though I may be fully aware that I am in a particular emotion and am choosing a specific food to dull that feeling, I can still find myself placing the spoon in my mouth, almost like I am possessed and cannot stop the motion. When we have lived doing this for many, many years, it can take time to stop the momentum, the relied-upon way of squashing how we feel. Bit by bit, when we truly feel the effects in our body, and begin to clock that it is not hunger that we are satisfying but something else altogether, we can begin to make change.

This change therefore requires us to be gentle on ourselves, not harsh or disappointed with our lack of due diligence, for it is this type of harshness that often instigates the unsupportive food choices in the first place.

The word diet in its true sense allows me to feel empowered, untainted by negativity thrown upon it by those fad diets and empty promises of weight loss.

The diet that works is one that deals with life and how we feel in life – not eating our problems away nor starving ourselves to underweight.

It will change from year to year to accommodate where we are both in life and in love . . . love for ourselves, of course.

We are offered many options in life, and not all things are for all people. Food is no different. The trick is to listen to the body and feel the effects of food so that we can choose those that truly nourish us. By reclaiming your own diet just for you, you take away all the restriction and the horrible rules that rely solely on willpower or self-restraint. It is a gentle approach that lasts a lifetime.

The best diet is a diet that deals with your emotions first and does not hinder what is there for you to feel and resolve. When we work on our hurts, we become the weight and natural shape that is so perfectly designed for YOU!

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DietsWeight lossComfort

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    By Maree Savins, GradCert HROD; AssDegLaw (Paralegal); Dip Arts (IDD)

    Born on a dairy farm, I have a natural affection for animals and nature as well as beautiful spaces and things. People are also important to me, the playfulness and support of friends and family as well as the connections made.

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    Photography: Clayton Lloyd