The Flexible Dieting Disaster
I was on my way out of the gym this morning when I couldn’t help but to overhear a rambunctious woman holding court over by the treadmill. As I moseyed a little closer I was startled at the conversation. She was schooling up a group of skinny-fat women on how they could finally get rid of their pesky belly fat and still eat garbage every single day. She went on to boast how she eats Lucky Charms for breaky then cookies or an ice cream cone after she leaves the gym.
She was probably in her late 20’s and had an athletic, fit figure so obviously she knew what she was talking about.
She insisted that it was perfectly fine to eat gummy bears and Reese’s cups sprinkled in during the day but only under one condition.
As long as it fits your macros. Better known in current pop-fitness culture as the cliche’ IIFYM.
You know, the uber popular acronym that makes cheat meals a thing of the past and magically turns ice cream healthy as long as it fits within your carb and fat intake for the day.
After she finished raving about her ice cream and brownie she eats post workout five days a week, the little daughter of one of the women listening chimes in;
“Mommy, all that dessert is bad for her!”
And with that the rest of the women burst into laughter and scattered like cockroaches scurrying across the kitchen floor when you flick on the light.
The flexible dieters took a page out of the tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, by pushing the narrative that if you can’t see the logic in trading your sweet potato for Chips Ahoy’s then you must be clueless, stupid or incompetent.
And just like a young child exposed The Emperor’s New Clothes as being a fraud so to even a 6 year old could plainly see the utter foolishness of substituting a Krispy Kream doughnut and whey shake for wild rice, grass-fed beef & walnuts.
The first problem with IIFYM and its paternal twin flexible dieting, is that it’s an industry lingo that was conjured up by fitness fanatics with an insatiable sweet tooth to ruffle the feathers of clean eaters all across the globe. The same inability to clarify the protocol that they accuse the eat-clean club of not being able to deliver on, they are woefully lacking themselves.
Try combining the macro counting with this whole flexible dieting agenda and it’s like playing Russian roulette with your diet.
Listen pop tart, if you believe junk food magically turns healthy just because it fits your macros you probably still believe in Santa Clause.
Now before I cause a peasant uprising from the local in-subordinates let’s get a few things straight here. I’m not here today to talk about a twenty-something hard gainer who can cut out Big Mac’s and still get ripped or even the emotionally stable folks with marginal genetics who can hit the gym, eat maintenance macros and frequent their favorite eatery a couple nights a week and still be somewhat lean. They could still do well in spite of eating small amounts of junk food.
But that’s not what I’m here to discuss today.
I’m specifically talking about mostly females in their 20’s and some in their 30’s and a surprising number of guys where avoiding the temptations of cookies is like trying to climb a cactus.
Every minute of every day.
And this segment of emotional eaters who are controlled by food is a lot bigger than you could ever imagine.
Ever noticed how they take it so personal and lash out with such striking fervor whenever someone takes a jab at their favorite sugary treats?
The only place you can make heads or tails of that sweet tooth induced logic is if you understand the premise from which it starts.
The reason you have a profound compulsion to eat filthy junk food when you’re not hungry is because you’re unfulfilled in another area of your life. It’s not a physical urge to eat, it’s a psychological one.
Food isn’t the solution in this type of a situation.
A shrink is.
And this leads us to Fat Loss Life Principle #20
People who constantly crave sweets even when they aren’t hungry, are not starving for macros, they are starving for attention, love or comfort.
It could be the boyfriend who cheats on you, could be your kid who keeps causing trouble at school or it could be your loathsome job you have to drag yourself out of bed to reluctantly show up for each day.
Another common culprit I’ve seen that causes many youngsters to buckle under the pressure of a plate of Betty Crocker brownies are the lofty expectations set by their family to become a high-achiever.
Which institution do you think is gonna have the most co-ed’s binging on Ben & Jerry’s, Stanford or Florida State?
Who’s more likely to use food as a crutch to support their lofty expectations? The chick that grew up in a country club lifestyle or the one who was raised on government subsidy?
Something interesting I noticed about this whole flexible dieting posse was that it’s most ardent supporters have eating disorders.
“How do you know??”
Because they admit it on their websites; both girls and guys alike.
“But why are people with eating disorders such staunch supporters of IIFYM?”
Because it gives them permission to feed their habit. In other words, they get to have their cake and eat it too.
All the while they push the narrative that eating sweets every day serves as a safe guard against binging. This is akin to a gambling addict insisting that by playing a hand of poker a day will prevent an all-out relapse later.
“Not so fast you judgmental jerk! I don’t have an eating disorder anymore!”
Just as an alcoholic will always be branded an alcoholic even after thirty years sober the binge eating disorder and bulimic will carry their labels for life as well. This brings us to possibly the most pernicious event that can occur in the diet game. Never ever take nutritional advice from someone who openly admitted to having an eating disorder.
Taking nutritional guidance from someone with an eating disorder is akin to someone in AA having a bartender as a sponsor!
Your drug of choice
IIFYM’ers aren’t taking into account the psychological and emotional effects of eating junk food on the dailee. There’s a “need” in your life that keeps seeking fulfillment through filthy food.
“I don’t get it, why do all these unfulfilled people seek out garbage food so much? Why not the healthy stuff?
Because filthy food is like a drug.
When you eat processed junk food you get a profound endorphin rush and along with it comes a “feel-good” sensation that’s going to whisk you far away from that unfulfilled relationship you wallow in daily. The chemical release that hits the pleasure centers of your brain is going to fly you off to cloud 9.
And when it does you’re not going to want to come down!
Wanna guess what happens next?
If one chocolate fudge cookie made you forget about your lonesome life, imagine what an entire box will do to the rest of your problems.
That cupcake isn’t just a sweet little treat; it’s your Prozac, your Adderall, your Oxycontin. This isn’t something that you just think you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, this is something you rely on for day to day function, it’s your required maintenance, without it you can’t survive.
That sugar rush you got from the bowl of Lucky Charms isn’t just magically delicious, it’s your medicine! You won’t be able to operate during the day without it. You crave that chemical high just like the junkie down on MLK Street craves her next hit.
The chemical high you get from that warm moist chewy brownie combined with the emotional void in your life that it temporarily fills are going to hit you like a ton of chocolate covered cinder blocks.
Now that you understand the science behind junk food’s effect on the brains of the emotionally void and chemically dependent crowd you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to connect-the-dots why so many folks have such zeal for fitting in filthy macros to their daily diet.
“Not so fast! Allowing sweets in your diet will prevent binging!”
That’s what you think…
Feeding an addiction doesn’t make it go away, it only makes it grow.
You see, the overwhelming majority of folks who relish their daily sugar fix aren’t cold, rational, emotionally balanced people.
If you don’t understand the addictive nature sugar has on some folks then you haven’t been paying attention.
“So what if I’m addicted to sweets! I can still have a warm chewy brownie as long as it’s in moderation!”
Unfortunately moderation and addiction cannot coexist, because once you cross the line of compromise it’s very difficult to turn back.
For you, one cookie is too many and one-thousand is never enough.
“You’re so wrong! If you ban a food from your diet, you will crave it that much more!”
Really? In that case next time I walk by you in the supermarket I’ll whisper in your ear “No more Captain Crunch!”
Then I’ll get a front row seat to watch as you undergo a transformation reminiscent of David Banner turning into the Hulk, only you won’t be ripping off your clothes and turning green, but you will be Hulk-smashing cereal boxes as you lose all will power like a raging alcoholic on a three day bender.
Only under the circus tent of flexible dieting can you make heads or tails of this type of logic.
“Bu bu but knowing that no foods are off-limits will prevent you from ever feeling the urge to binge, and you’ll be able to much more easily exercise portion control!”
Take those marshmallows out of your ears junior and listen good. The urge to binge doesn’t come from not eating garbage. Eating garbage is what triggers a binge!
In other words losing control comes from putting things in your mouth that don’t belong there!
Which brings us to Fat Loss Life Principle #16
Just as a fence will protect a puppy from wandering into places that are off-limits so will the right nutrition program prevent you from eating foods that are off-limits.
The next thing you’re probably going to tell me is that eating ice cream magically turns healthy if you eat it post workout.
I think I just spilled the beans or should I say Hershey syrup.
In case you haven’t noticed, according to the IIFYM crowd, if you gobble up a bowl of ice cream after you lift weights it magically becomes as good as gold for building muscle.
Youngsters tend to take this whole post workout sugar rush thing a little too seriously.
In case you haven’t noticed it’s mostly younger, newbie girls & guys who take the bait hook, line and sinker in the IIFYM game. If you tell an obese 46 year old mom with 3 kids that she can burn off her stubborn Buddha belly and whittle down those ham hock thighs of hers and still eat ice cream five nights a week she will laugh at you! She’s been around the block enough times in the diet game to never fall for such foolishness.
Now turn around and tell a twenty- something foppish female with the self-confidence of a toadstool that she can eat cookies every day and still slip into size 6 jeans and she’ll jump on a box of Oreos that like a dog in heat.
Now if you’re genetically gifted, a stunning ectomorph trying to gain mass or obese & de-conditioned and just need to eat less kcals period then you could probably get away with it for now.
It’ll fail miserably if you’re an endomorph and especially an emotional eater with a history of binging.
And if you have hormone problems then it’s like walking the proverbial plank. I don’t care if you add & subtract macros until your piggies get numb from punching your calculator, you’re not going to be able to fit in the daily dessert tray while coping with diabetes, Graves disease or Hashimoto’s disease without some pernicious consequences.
Can you imagine Candice, a strikingly estrogen dominant example of an endomorph with hashimotos disease trying to coerce her adipose cells to shrink while eating an ice cream sammich after each lifting session or nibbling on Reeses cups for a snack?
“Bu bu but! It’s better than eating clean all the time!”
I didn’t say clean. I said healthy.
And stop hiding behind this “clean eating” garbage. It’s a misguided industry term obese housewives and frugal fitness minded soccer moms throw around to try to sound cool.
This anti-clean eating agenda is always the go-to rebuttal for the flexible dieting crowd. Just flash back to the start if you need a refresher course.
Where this entire IIFYM philosophy of flexible dieting is woefully lacking is the concept that you are encouraged to fill your diet with welfare-food, otherwise you’re bound to get burned out and eventually cave in to a binge as a result of all that healthy food.
You’re losing me on this whole clean eating concept as being your nemesis. Look junior, the password isn’t a snickers bar, it’s whole, healthy nutritious food and a lot of it and if you think that eating whole healthy food is going to cause you to fall off the ledge with your cravings then you’re either severely under eating or you’re unfulfilled in other areas of your life.
I’d speculate the ladder.