How To Make Dietary Change To Fit Your Life
There are a lot of changes that people need to make when they are in the process of healing, but the most invasive and demanding change is often dietary related.
Once your doctor, dietitian, nutritionist or other health provider identify the foods that are causing problems for you and put you on a “diet” the most challenging part is sticking with it. I don’t like to use the term “diet” because to me that means temporary. It means that you are only going to be doing this for a short period and only get short-term results. That is not what we are looking for. I want my patients to have long-term life benefits so instead we are going to refer to “diet” as a “lifestyle change.” This new phrase takes away the idea that this will be short-term and instead programs our mind to look at food as a way of healing.
Why Can’t We Stick To A Diet?
- Food is tied to our habits
- Food is apart of our culture and identity
- Food is related to our emotions
People come in and ask me, “Are you taking away dairy?” and my response is always, “No.” Which to most people and health professionals is a surprise because dairy may be the very thing causing them problems. It doesn’t matter to me if you eat dairy or wheat, I may sympathize with you, but I don’t care if you do those things because to me it is more about giving you the best quality of life. I want my patient to tell ME if it matters to THEM.
If we experiment and take away those foods for a little and then you reintroduce them either planned or on accident it is your job to come back and tell me if they matter.
You Will Not Be Perfect, and It’s OKAY!
I had a woman come in, and she told me she couldn’t stick to the lifestyle changes I recommended because there was too much other change going on in her life. My response was simply, “Okay, you’re going to wait until life calms down and then we’re going to make the changes.” I watched her take a breath of relief because I had given her permission not to be perfect.
After our conversation, she came back and told me that once she was able to deal with the other aspects of her life, she was able to make those dietary changes and find out which foods caused significant problems for her. With a drastic lifestyle change, once you take the pressure off yourself to be perfect, you may notice you’ll start making the right choices.
Nothing puts people back in their old habits faster than stress does, and if you make your new way of eating stressful for yourself you better believe that it will be super hard not to slip up. But if you anticipate imperfection, embrace it, and learn from it when it does happen, you will be better equipped to deal with situations in the future.
I Ate Dr. Pepper and Chocolate Chip Cookies for Years…
As a Doctor, I am not afraid to admit that I am also human, and I have struggled with dietary changes just as many patients have. I was fully aware of how chocolate chip cookies and Dr. Pepper were affecting and my focus. Finally, it dawned on me that I started doing this about six months after my dad died, and what he would make for us every Saturday morning was chocolate chip cookies and Dr. Pepper.
Those foods had so much emotional meaning to me. Once I realized what it was I was able to figure out better ways to remember my father and eventually I stopped needing cookies and soda all together. A lot of the time food has underlying emotional components that we may not even be aware of. To help people stick to lifestyle changes and eliminate foods that don’t do their body any good we often have to address the emotional component that those foods have before we can expect any changes to be made.
– Dr. Steve Puckette