I recently started a new diet about 3 weeks ago. I cringe at the word diet, but I find this one acceptable because it is really more like simple rules to follow to curb excess in your eating habits and encourage moderation.
I am a mid-30’s female who works a desk job, and I have seen my girth grow over the past 8-10 years in a way that doesn’t look or feel good. It feels typical, but with 95% of diets ending in failure and already having tried the paleo diet, no sugar, etc etc styles of eating for a few years, I had really given up on the concept of diets until this one. I could definitely stand to lose 20-30 pounds very comfortably. I am in the overweight BMI and inching very close to obese for my short height.
I am following the No S Diet by Reinhard Engels with a little Smart People Don’t Diet by Charlotte Markey thrown in. I highly recommend both of these diet books because they use counter-cultural ideas to form the basis for eating well in the real, modern world. They both emphasize eating habits and behaviors on a daily basis and making changes that are permanent and that you can sustain and live with for the rest of your life (as opposed to a short term diet). They de-emphasize food lists, approved or non-approved foods, recipes, nutrition, calorie counting, or macronutrient composition in favor of a more practical long-term, incremental, small changes approach.
The No S Diet
Reinhard is an engineer, not a food expert, who solved his own problem of being 40 pounds overweight with the simple solution of: No Snacks, No Sweets, No Seconds, except on “S” Days. “S” days are Saturday, Sunday, and Special occasions, which include your birthday and the birthdays of your very close friends and family, and major holidays. I like the simplicity and the logic of it, which he describes well in his book and on his website with all the same information.
No S has been the bulk of what I have started doing, and I am slowing beginning to make it a habit. I use the app Habit Calendar to track “days on habit” as opposed to weight lost, because admittedly, this is a slow process and we are talking months and years here as opposed to days, weeks, and months. I have been making a concerted effort for about 3 weeks now, so I am still in the very early stages and have not lost any weight or inches around the belly yet.
I am ok with the slow process because it frees up a lot of mental energy around food and eating. My experience, so far, has been feast or famine. On some days I have been so hungry because I didn’t eat enough at a meal to get me through to the next one, and at other times, I am so stuffed from overeating in fear of not having enough to get me through to the next meal. But the good news is that meals feel more sacred to me because I don’t eat outside of them. I feel like my body is teaching me what I need, and I am slowly learning. I also indulge in delicious desserts on the weekends without any guilt.
For support, there is a fairly active, private facebook group you can join. It’s filled with real people for whom this is working, which is more than I can say for most diets. I appreciate people’s honesty, generosity, helpfulness, and don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff attitude. I have also enlisted my husband to do this with me. He is trying the diet alongside me, which is nice because now I have a buddy 🙂
Smart People Don’t Diet
Charlotte is a doctor with all the appropriate letters after her name, but she gives sane, balanced, and even somewhat boring advice for changing your diet one small step at a time. She recommends keeping a food journal for a while. Then once you have identified the changes you would like to make, she recommends making one small sustainable change at a time.
For instance, she recommends giving up liquid calories for one solid week. See how it goes, then add another behavioral change the next week. She writes in her book that her university classes are popular, and people can’t believe they end up losing weight over the course of months to years with this sensible approach.
The reason I mention her approach here is because I decided to adopt the No S diet in steps. I tried to do it all at once – managed it for 2 days and then felt bad about myself because I couldn’t follow it. It was too much change all at once for me.
Adopting the No S Diet in 2 Steps
I think it is sensible and self-compassionate to try to adopt the No S Diet in steps. I took two steps. For me, I chose no snacks, no seconds for a week, but I kept eating sweets pretty much whenever I wanted to throughout that week as I normally would. The second week, I added the no sweets until the weekend rule. And this worked for me. Sweets are my weakness, so it needed to go last while I got down my other habits. Some people from the facebook group have mentioned that snacking is a bigger problem for them, so maybe you adopt no snacking last.
I can still see lots of other small tweaks and improvements I can make to my diet, if I choose to, once I get the hang of the basics pretty solidly and really ingrain the No S habit into my daily life.
So, I am cautiously excited. I think at the very least if I don’t continue to gain weight that would be great! If I slip into weight loss that would be even better. But for now, I will continue this and re-evaluate in 6 months and see where I decide to go from there. I’m really happy with it so far for the alleviation of mental stress and the positive feeling I get from doing something about my weight problem that feels right.
The other part of the equation is exercise, but that will be a post for another week!