Say that word: nourish. Say it again. Nour – isssshhhhh. It sounds sorta soft and cozy, huh? Like you could wrap yourself up in it. It might sound metaphorical, but it’s quite literal when it comes to our nutrition because we’re either gonna get wrapped up in “how many calories are in it” or wrapped up in nourishment. Nourishment is all the good, all the nutrition and all the health that comes from food – not just the energy it provides. When you’re trying to lose fat and better your body, it seems food gets reduced to the mere mathematics of calories, carbs and fat grams. This is part of the equation, but this numbers game doesn’t feel good, does it? If you’ve ever dieted (and who hasn’t?) you’ve played this numbers game. You’ve used the food scale, a carb counter or other nutrition abacus to fine tune each meal and snack. You carefully account for each detail to not over do any diet saboteur. How does it feel to eat this way? It feels like punishment. Our crime was gaining weight, so we are sentenced to a diet. Dieting feels restrictive, sad and even a little scary. We get scared of straying from the plan lest we gain weight. We get scared of what oil the chef at the restaurant is using on our vegetables. We get scared of giving in to our bodies’ messages, particularly hunger. Often when our body is in the throes of a restrictive diet it’s sending you the message that it’s hungry! But to have it all add up, these messages must go unheeded. This is stressful. Do this for long enough and your stress hormones rise and your hunger hormones get out of whack. To lose more weigh though, we need to tune out those messages and stick to the numbers. If we don’t, we feel guilty that we were so weak and gave in to that craving. Is that a feeling you want to be wrapped up in? Does it sound nourishing? Hardly. But it does sound familiar. Dieting by nature is restrictive and only maintainable for a short period of time. Dieting is decidedly not nourishing, nor is the poor health and sadness that comes from being overweight – so where’s the balance? I mean, we can’t jump into the bag of Cheetos and expect to feel nourished or be healthy. But we can start to think “nourish” before we put a bit of anything in our mouth – be it a piece of dark chocolate or a stalk of celery. Eating this way encourages a healthier, better fat loss diet without even trying – and it doesn’t feel restrictive, it actually feels pretty good. Since recovering from my last bout of dieting (a recovery that’s been going on 6 months now), I’ve been trying to think this way and a few interesting things have happened: *Focusing on the nutrients in the food – the fiber, the antioxidants, the minerals – causes me to eat slower and less mindlessly. It’s easier to judge when you feel full and you’re less likely to overeat. *Eating with the intention that this food is nourishing me makes a salad feel really good, rather than a “diet food” that I have to eat because I need to lose more weight. *Knowing that I’m using food to nourish and heal my metabolism after extreme dieting, helps me eat more regularly, helps me remember to have healthy snacks and helps me effortlessly choose the fish and vegetables out at a restaurant over the more carby, higher calorie, gonna feel sluggish afterwards option. *Getting away from the restrictive nature of a “diet” and focusing on how food can nourish me has helped me calm down about food. I’m less scared of what a dietary discretion will do to my physique and consequently I’ve made far fewer of them. This seems counter intuitive doesn it? I mean if we think less of what’s in food we’ll eat worse right? I have found the opposite is true. I’m more in tune with how I feel and the whole nutrition game has gotten easier when I’ve stopped playing by number. Now I’m not one who can just eat loads of carbs and still expect to be lean, or ignore the fact that gluten and diary are inflammatory foods for me – but shifting focus from damage control to nourishment has made eating the way I need to eat for my best body feel less restrictive. I’m no longer being punished. Spend today thinking of nourishing – not punishing – yourself with a nutrition plan and see what gets easier. My guess is quite a lot. I was told once that we should do away with people and things that cannot exist in our lives with ease and grace – the same should be true of our nutition.