You CANNOT Eat Bread (and why restriction can ruin you)

How's this for mind-boggling...

122 women were split into two groups.

One group could eat anything they wanted within a low-calorie diet.

The other group could also eat anything they wanted within the same amount of calories... except bread. They could eat ANYTHING they wanted but they weren't allowed any bread whatsoever.

(best thing since sliced bread...)

Over the 16-weeks, both groups had pretty similar results.

BUT here’s the interesting bit. Of the no-bread group, 21% of people dropped out of the study. They just couldn’t handle not being allowed to eat bread (vs just 6% of the bread group).

They could eat anything they wanted, but because of the one restriction of bread, they were more than 3x more likely to give up.

That’s just how humans work.

We are weird creatures!

I attended Martin MacDonald’s Nutrition World Tour a couple weekends ago and one major takeaway I got from the day was ‘restriction may be doing more harm than good’.

There were plenty of other studies like the bread study, each showing how restriction causes us to go through psychological hell.

If I tell you not to think of a pink elephant.

I mean it, DO NOT think of a pink elephant!

Now, what are you thinking about?

If we are told we can’t have something, we want it.

So, now for something completely different.

You have unconditional permission to eat anything.

It’s your choice, but you are in charge of your results.

The things you do while you are dieting are all within your control. Nothing is ‘not allowed’. There are no ‘bad foods’. You choose what to eat and are responsible for your choices.

“I’m making a choice not to have that for a period of time.”

  • A simple restriction by your own choice for a short period of time. Most of us can handle that, as long as it doesn’t send you crazy like the bread people.

“I’m choosing to diet aggressively but I know I can have a maintenance day anytime and no foods are off limits.”

  • It’s your choice to lower your calories and lose some fat. On any day, you are allowed to eat more and eat the foods you enjoy. You’re in charge of the diet and the results.

“I’m choosing to restrict the variety of foods I eat.”

  • Higher food variety stimulates appetite and delays the feeling of ‘fullness’ so it’s a good idea to keep it simple in a dieting period.

For most of us, losing weight is easy. Keeping it off is the hard part.

Losing weight is as simple as reducing your calorie intake for a while. Keeping it off requires a lifestyle change because if you're still the same person on the inside who weighed 20kgs heavier, you'll likely be back there within a few months.

I didn't realise how important this concept was when I was younger.

At a fresh 20 years old, I tried out the keto diet.

It’s a diet where you eat lots of fat, some protein and ZERO carbs (you’re seriously not even allowed to look at carbs).

I was encouraged to cover meals in oil and fatty sauces, I had to pick the fattiest meats I could find (such as bacon and sausages - chicken was too lean) and I wasn’t allowed to eat many vegetables or any fruit at all.

It totally messed with my head.

Yeah, I lost weight. But it had nothing to do with the magic of the keto diet. It was the fact I wasn’t allowed to eat 90% of foods so ended up not eating much at all.

I was in a calorie deficit and lost weight.

And as soon as I finished my 3-month stint I put the weight all back on.

As the restriction lifted the floodgates opened and I drowned myself in carbs in a way I’m not proud of.

(I once ate a loaf of bread in one sitting...)

Which brings me to another nugget from the seminar I’d like to share with you:

There are no unhealthy foods, there aren’t even unhealthy meals, there are only unhealthy diets.

Dieting is supposed to be a temporary thing in an attempt to lose some body fat. There are healthy ways to go about it and not so healthy ones (my 20-year-old self found this out).

The diet is a means to an end… but what is the end?

The ‘end’ is the big picture of living your life. It’s what happens after the temporary diet. It’s how you transition from diet-mode to everyday-life-mode.

Some diets simply don’t allow you to do this.

They leave you so psychologically bruised and battered you have little chance to maintain your results.

Diet’s don't need to be sustainable, and they shouldn’t be. They only need to ‘work’ while you want to lose weight. No one should be dieting forever.

There just needs to be enough flexibility that you don’t send yourself to the loony bin and have no hope in transitioning to back to real life once it’s done.

This brings us back to the first lesson: you have unconditional permission to eat anything - it’s your choice, but you’re in charge of the results.

No one meal can ‘make’ you unhealthy.

No single food will ‘ruin’ your results.

As long as most of the stuff you eat is pretty healthy and you’re aware of being in a calorie deficit, you really can eat whatever you want.

Food doesn’t control you.

Let this moment be the one where you claim this thought as your own.

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