Learning how to diet without anxiety takes time, effort, and experience to manage. The word “diet” is associated with starvation, suffering, restricting food, excessive control … this inevitably leads to anxiety.
The big problem with following a diet of these characteristics is that it is not sustainable over time.
Indeed, you started a supposedly infallible diet with great enthusiasm, strictly following harsh rules. But after a few weeks, you hit exhaustion and lost your willpower.
Within a few days, you had recovered all the fat that you lost with so much effort.
The most normal thing is that, in the face of so much anxiety and lack of results, you suffer even more when you face the possibility of dieting again.
But do not worry. I will try to teach you strategies to face a new diet without anxiety.
Why do we feel anxiety?
Maybe phrases like:
“To get the changes you need, you have to get out of your comfort zone!”
“All success entails suffering.”
All are phrases implicitly carry the message that success comes from sacrifice and suffering. However, messages of this type also create great pressure on us.
Faced with a situation that caused us discomfort in the past, and that will be faced again, the body prevents this experience, and one of its ways is by stressing the body.
But this response, which is very efficient in a dangerous situation or an emergency, is not so when it is sought when starting a diet.
A stressful situation is the easiest way to boycott your goals
Let me put you in context:
- You start a diet with anxiety.
- Anxiety causes the body to go into savings mode.
- In economic mode, the body does not use its fat reserves.
- And when you don’t see results, you get more anxiety because you are not losing weight.
This is a vicious cycle from which to get out.
It is essential that before starting any diet, you remember the following existential truths:
Nobody likes to suffer. In reality, we always return to what brings us well-being.
The emotional memory of all the previous failures makes you have the feeling that this time it will be the same, and then, why so much effort?
It is clear, then, that we have to give answers to these two questions:
What do you have to do so that your sensations do not take you away from the body you want this time?
How to get out of the paradox of “I want to improve my health, my body and my diet, but the word diet makes me anxious”?
And the answer to both is that you need a straightforward guide on starting your diet and the winning approach.
Instead of going all out and trying to overcome discomfort with the force of will, you have to create the right context so that your body understands that change is the best thing to do and rewards you for it.
How to diet without anxiety?
Several strategies will take you from having anxiety to enjoying the change and seeing improvements almost immediately.
Put your body in a position to feel the energy to face the change.
Consider that if in your current situation you are sleeping for a few hours, consuming many processed products, and eating 6 times a day, it is possible that your digestive system is worn out and your immune system is alert.
The immune system is a priority for our survival, so it informs the brain that it is a lousy time to generate changes when it is active. It induces a depressive state and asks us to eat sugar (the primary fuel you are on alert).
So before facing a dietary change, especially if it generates anxiety, it is worth providing the appropriate calm so that your immune system allows you to change.
This change in context is based on premises that will allow you to move towards more demanding changes:
Start by eating food and not processed products
All those products with more than 5 ingredients are usually designed to confuse your brain. This leads to consume more than you need. Only by following this premise is it likely that you will normalize your body weight. Your body will know how to identify whether it needs to eat or not.
Walk every day between 30 minutes and an hour
Movement has accompanied us throughout our history. We needed it to survive. That is why the body now depends on it for proper physiology. It is exciting to observe how, in the appropriate conditions, the entire metabolism is set in motion to promote physical activity. The improvement is almost immediate both in terms of health and changes in figure.
For most of our history, we have spent many hours in the sun. Sun is an essential factor in being healthy. Among many other functions, sunlight is necessary to regulate our circadian rhythm and vitamin D synthesis.
Live by day, sleep at night. Suppose there is something that all the animals on this planet share. We have had to adapt to living with 12 hours of sun and 12 hours of darkness. Our body expects you to be active during the day and to sleep at night. Crossing the borders of 12 hours of light has significant consequences on our health.
Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a day
Few things reach more consensus among health experts than the importance of sleep and rest. Sleeping (remember at night) 7.5 hours is usually the optimal time to respect your sleep cycles and wake up refreshed and energetic. If you have trouble sleeping, I highly recommend reading this article.
Get in touch with nature
More and more authors suggest that living close to the natural environment (including gardens and farmland) has long-term health benefits. These benefits are caused, in part, by the psychological need to live in the environment in which we evolved as a species, along with factors such as exercise, sunlight, and social interactions. Humans have an evolutionarily predetermined need to expose ourselves to nature. When we don’t, we feel homesick.
Enjoy doing nothing
For most of our history, we have spent part of our time doing nothing. Our activities demanded it of us. We couldn’t finish the day hunting or gathering, not even planting. Now, instead, we have become the only “busy” animals. Even when there are times when you have nothing to do, you look for new tasks, or you sign up for courses that you will never use. Life is for enjoying it.
And forget what I said. Yes, as you read. Because after applying the previous points, you can forget to control by heart how much you sleep, the hours you spend in nature, etc. Excess control can also work against you.
How do you create a mental context to overcome the anxiety of dieting?
For your brain to understand that the most beneficial thing that can happen is that you incorporate a change in diet in your life, and it rewards you for it, you have to speak to it in its language.
As you know, all the needs generate at a certain point of discomfort. When you have to drink, you are thirsty, and this is not the most pleasant sensation, not hunger, not pain, not withdrawal, not sleep.
So first of all, imagine the worst fantasy of your future, something that causes you discomfort. Imagine yourself emaciated, sick, in pain, without autonomy, depressed, and dying too soon. Exaggerate everything you can because you will fall short.
In today’s world of environmental aggressions, toxins, stress, and junk food, what you imagine will happen to you and more if you don’t move.
Well, when you visualize yourself like this, you already have the image you are fighting against. That image must be powerful enough to defeat the ancient mechanism of not moving if necessary.
This will set off alarms, like when you have an exam.
You know that when there is a lot left to do, you intend to study, but you don’t. A few days before the exam, you study all day. You will probably do it because of the fear of immediate consequences. The risk of failure is more real and defeats the laziness of studying.
The more challenging and more discomfort you link to not moving, the more effective it will be.
Now, like any need, when it is covered, it generates pleasure. Before I gave you as an example, thirst and hunger, and drinking and eating generate satisfaction as a reward.
You must have another image of yourself fulfilling your objective and how good it feels to you.
This image of your future self when achieving your goal should be large and attractive, do not make the mistake of setting a goal too low. Low targets generate little traction and are dropped. It must be something that you notice that if you imagine it, it tickles your belly.
All these things that I am telling you may seem, in principle, superficial. But they are decisive. Just as I told you about the anticipation of the body to a bad experience generates anxiety, when the tension is of well-being, it produces a hormone called Dopamine that will allow you to enjoy the process of change.
Now that you have generated the appropriate context to get your body to understand the benefits of a change and have a body willing to invest energy. You will see that if the nutritional approach is consistent with your physiology, your body will thank you because the change has come from inside out and not outside in. This way you manage to diet without anxiety.