Brownies with peanut butter in a cage Diet concept

Borders and Boundaries: From the United Nations to your plate

“How can I be successful with my diet?” Is this a question that often runs through your head? I believe that we all want to lead a healthy and happy lifestyle, but when it comes to nutrition we lose touch with one very important tool to help us succeed – the physical, cognitive, and emotional tool of eating within the boundaries we set for ourselves.

Let’s first address how we view borders and boundaries as adults. Many of us automatically associate these words with a negative connotation. For example, we may associate limit setting and boundaries with raising children, and educating them as to what they can and cannot do. Or picture a fence dividing two countries. Perhaps, we might even think of boundaries as something prohibited. As so, we might relate to boundaries in a similarly negative way when it comes to our diet plan. For example, one might think “Oh, I can’t have that!” or “This is not permitted in my diet plan”. Notice that in all of the above examples boundaries are set and shown in a negative way which sets us up to fail in our efforts to make a real change. Instead, use these boundaries and limitations positively in your weight loss plan. Putting boundaries and limitations in place actually allow us freedom and choices in our weight loss process, leading us to succeed in our diet.

With the overflow of information available to most of us online, together with everyone we meet offering us nutritional advice, it is not easy to set boundaries and limitations in our eating habits and makes it even harder for us to be consistent with our choices. Often, this information overflow causes us to constantly change our program, one day believing we should be vegan, the next day deciding to cut out all bread, and two days later avoiding all dairy products. This is why it is important to keep in mind these 5 tips:

  • Healthy nutrition is a function of reorganizing. First, stop and think about the changes we want to make. Only then, can we truly start the process. We need to think in terms of baby steps: “What changes can I start with that will work for me, yet not rock my world?” Keep in mind that changes that are too big and difficult for us to handle actually prevent success in our weight loss efforts
  • “Every limit or border set should be in place at all times”. For example, if one of your goals is to eat mindfully at the kitchen table instead of in front of the television, or straight from the pot, than this should be implemented without question and at every meal.
  • Think about how many times you tell yourself “NO” when it comes to food. Instead, train yourself to say, “No, but…”, or even better, talk to yourself in a positive fashion. Instead of saying “I am not allowed to eat chocolate” train yourself to instead say, “I should eat a piece of fruit for dessert as it is healthy”.
  • Give yourself positive feedback. Often times we notice our poor decisions rather our good ones. Similarly, it is often easier to see our negative qualities rather than notice our positive ones. Take the time to acknowledge the good decisions you make in your weight loss effort. They go a long way.
  • Remember that we often have less control when eating outside of our home. Since we can’t impose our limitations and boundaries on others, it is important to learn to handle these situations in order to remain in control of ourselves even when we are not in control of the situation. This can be done by setting expectations and visualizing success.

Sticking with a weight loss plan is not easy because, let’s face it, most of us like to eat and enjoy food. However, if you set boundaries wisely you will find this process is both easier and more enjoyable.