A lot of people feel the need to share their thoughts with me about food restrictions. They say things like, “I don’t ever want to restrict any foods”, or “All foods are OK in moderation”, or …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, sports nutritionist, Master life coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 154 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, the weight loss coach for runners. And today, the truth about food restrictions. A lot of people feel the need to share with me their thoughts about food restrictions, they’ll tell me things like I don’t ever want to restrict any foods or all foods should be okay in moderation or something like that.
And I know where they’re coming from with this. They just don’t want to have to give up any of their favorite foods. But here’s the thing, if you want to change your health and fitness for the better, if you want to lose weight, maybe even change your relationship with some of these foods, something has to change, you can’t lose weight by eating the same foods that got you overweight in the first place. Right?
Nothing changes if nothing changes. So in this episode, I’m going to share with you the truth about food restrictions. And why it might be necessary to restrict some foods if you want to lose weight, and live your best life. And listen, these concepts that I talked about here on the podcast, the ideas that I share with you here, the things that I teach you here on this podcast are all great on their own.
But if you really want to improve your life, if you want to lose weight, if you want to improve your health, and you want to make changes to the way you you approach food and, and nutrition and fueling, for running and all of that stuff, then you’re going to have to put these principles into practice, you’re going to have to make some changes, you’re gonna have to do things differently.
And that process can be hard, it can be challenging to do that. Because each of us is an experiment of one, you have to kind of figure out the best sort of formula, the best plan that works for you, and for your lifestyle, and for your health and fitness goals.
If I was to tell you that you could just do these five things, and it would improve your life and everybody would do the same things and they would all get the same results, I’d be totally mistaken, I’d be remiss to do that. I don’t want to do that, I’m not going to do that, I’m not going to tell you that, you know, there’s one one formula that’s going to work for everybody, because we’re all so different.
So this is why I do what I do as a coach is that I help you put together a detailed plan that will help you reach your goals. But then we analyze that plan and see how things are working for you as an individual. Are you feeling better? Are you losing weight? Are you sleeping better? Are you improving your running performance? Do your clothes fit better? Do you like the way you look in the mirror?
We’re going to look at all kinds of metrics, and then decide if we want to continue with this path or we need to change the plan a little bit. And that’s the beautiful part of coaching is that this feedback system, it’s you and I working closely together, trying some things, checking to see what’s working and what isn’t, and then we course correct as we go. That’s the way the process works.
I can’t tell you what’s going to be the answer for you as an individual because we are all so different. Okay. But if you want that help, if you want that guidance, if you want that support, the encouragement, the motivation, accountability to stay on track, and reach your health and fitness goals as we enter 2023 then reach out to me just go to runningleancoaching.com/apply fill out a short application for coaching and you and I’ll get on a call and we’ll see if this is a good fit for you. Cool, runningleancoaching.com/apply. And we’ll see you become the healthiest and most badass version of yourself in 2023.
All right, so today I’m feeling pretty compelled to talk about food restrictions. Because I’ve been seeing posts on social media about this. I’ve been getting messages from people. People that are interested in working with me will tell me hey, I really want to work with you. I want you to be my coach, but I just have to tell you, I’m not going to restrict any foods.
I just want to keep eating the same foods that I’m eating and I don’t want to have any kind of restrictions because every time I feel restricted, I binge out on foods and things like that. And I want to address all of this because I think we are doing ourselves a disservice if we think that we can make changes to our diet to our health to our fitness to our weight, and not experience some sort of restriction in some way. Okay?
I hear this from not just from people who want to work with me, but I hear this on social media too. And I see a nutritionist talk about this on social media. And where this comes from, is mostly from dieticians. And these are registered dietitians from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the problem with, and this is not just me saying this to you; you can go online and find lots of information about about the the academy, but this particular association is funded by a number of food multinationals by pharmaceutical companies.
And food industry lobbying groups, such as the National Confectioners Association, the National Confectioners Association, just so you know, it’s an American trade organization that promotes chocolate candy gum and mints and the companies that make these things. Okay, so the AMD is funded by companies like the National Confectioners Association. The AMD is also funded by companies like PepsiCo, and Mars and Coca Cola and Kellogg’s and General Mills.
And this industry funding gives food companies like Coca Cola and General Mills and stuff, the ability to offer official educational seminars to teach dietitians how to advise their clients in a way that advances the interests of those particular food companies. For example, in a Coca Cola sponsored seminar for dieticians, the speaker promoted free sugars consumption, like for kids as a healthy choice, like kids should just be able to eat as much sugar as they want. This is healthy for kids.
So if you’re listening to advice from registered dieticians, and I’m not saying they’re all the same, or that they all offer the same advice, but in general, a lot of these dietitians will say, you know, oh, all foods are fine. In moderation, we don’t restrict any foods, sugar is fine. Flour is fine, grains are fine. Just understand that this whole organization where they got their certification is funded by the sugar industry, by the pharmaceutical industry, by the junk food industry.
Okay, so anytime I see somebody talking about food restrictions, this idea of, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics comes to mind, and their funding and who they’re sponsored by, okay. And a lot of their material, a lot of their training material is derived from these food companies to help promote their own interests.
So to me, this is a huge conflict of interest. And I don’t think this is where we should be getting our dietary advice. That’s just my opinion. Okay. So I want you to understand where this idea of never restricting foods comes from. Okay. So what does it mean to restrict foods? I want to just kind of touch on this briefly.
So what this means is that we eliminate some foods from our diet. And some people have a real problem with this. And I’m not just talking about dieticians, but some people think that we should never restrict any kinds of foods from our diet. But what if you find that you know, losing weight is very difficult unless you cut out sugary treats. Wouldn’t it be in your best interest to maybe cut out sugary treats, at least for a while.
Is restricting foods something that you should never do something you should always do? Something that you can do? Every now and then? Like what’s the right answer? Unfortunately, there isn’t really a right answer. But you’re going to hear my stance on this and my stance is going to be this – I think that at times it is necessary to restrict some foods. If you find it very difficult to give up junk food, if you find that you, you know, are addicted to junk food to sugar to you know, soda, to cookies, ice cream, whatever it is, wouldn’t it be in your best interest to you know, get off of that substance?
You know, restriction doesn’t mean it has to be a permanent thing. Restriction means that we restrict ourselves from indulging in that food for a period of time, and for some people, that period of time might be a long time. So I’ve worked with some people who have a real bad relationship with sugar.
And anytime they start eating some sugar, they find that they can’t stop eating sugar. The same goes for people who have issues with drinking or with drugs. You know, some people can drink in moderation, they can drink every now and then. You know, I know someone that can drink once a month. And she has like one drink a month. And I’m like, how do you do that?
And I know other people who have a sip of alcohol, and then and then they’re like off to the races. And they can’t stop drinking until they’re passed out on the floor. That was kind of my experience with alcohol, where as soon as I started drinking, and I drove, I couldn’t stop until I was, you know, pretty much passed out, you know? So, for me, isn’t it better for me to just abstain from drinking alcohol and not have to continually fight that battle? Yeah, I haven’t had alcohol in like 15 years, coming up on 16 years now. And it works for me.
So restricting alcohol, for me, feels great, my life is so much better without it. And it did take some time for me to get through that discomfort of, of change and the discomfort of wanting alcohol and not having it. But once I got through that, it was so much better for me. And today, I don’t even think about it like I don’t need to drink.
You know, I go out to dinner a lot. And I sit at the bar at dinner a lot just because sometimes it’s hard to find a table at a restaurant. And so my girlfriend and I will go out to dinner and sit at the bar, and neither of us really drink. So we just sit at the bar and eat food. While everybody around us is drinking. There’s alcohol everywhere there.
I’m watching them make all these drinks, and some of them look pretty damn good too. But I have no desire to drink, that desire is long gone for me. The same goes with sugar for me. So I was really addicted to sugar. And for many years, many more, I’ll just be honest here, decades, for me decades of eating tons of sugar and tons of carbs, and justifying it with all of the running that I was doing.
And that kind of worked for a while until it didn’t. And I started gaining weight and gained within a few years something like 40 pounds, and really had to take a look at my sugar intake and really had to make a decision like is this something that I want to continue to do? Or do I need to restrict this from my diet?
And I made that decision some years ago where I was just going to remove sugar from my diet. And the more I read about the dangers of sugar, and the problems, the health problems that are caused by sugar, and the obesity epidemic in this country that’s been caused by sugar and flour and grains and refined refined carbohydrates and junk food and processed foods. I just don’t want that in my life.
And so I decided that I was going to just cut that out of my life. Now this does not mean that I don’t ever eat any sugar. I do occasionally very occasionally. I recently had a birthday. And I had a big old piece of birthday cake on my birthday. Because you know what? Nobody wants to eat a birthday salad. Right? I had a piece of birthday cake. And it was great. I loved it.
Does that mean that the next day I needed to eat another half a birthday cake or whatever? No, no, it meant that I had that cake. And then I was done. So my relationship with sugar today is much different than it used to be. In the past, it was something I had to have every single day. That’s an unhealthy relationship with sugar. So for me, restricting this, and eliminating this from my diet 99.7% of the time works for me, and I feel better.
And I know that I’m treating my body right and that I’m eating foods that are actually healthy for me and aren’t harmful. For me. I think sugar is harmful. I think refined grains are harmful for us, especially done in excess. Now if you’re somebody that can really moderate your sugar intake, and you’re like, I’m not going to restrict any foods. This doesn’t apply to me because I want to eat some sugar every now and then. It’s not a big deal, then that’s great. You do you, but if you’re the person who is sitting there listening to this right now and you’re like, Yeah, I’m 40 pounds overweight. I do eat sugar. I have a bad relationship with carbs and sugar. But I really don’t want to give that stuff up.
Then maybe it’s this is a time for you to like, start thinking about that. Maybe you’re thinking he needs to change. Restriction doesn’t have to be permanent, it can be temporary. And I’ve worked with some people who have eliminated sugar from the from their diet, have got fat adapted as a runner, have lost a bunch of weight, and then have incorporated some carbs and some sugar back into their diet very moderately, and they’ve changed their relationship with this food substance, this food like substance, so I’m going to argue that sugar really isn’t necessary for our survival.
So it’s more like a, it’s really more like a drug than it is a food but I get it that you know, it’s sugar is in everything, it’s really, it can be hard to avoid. But if you’re the kind of person who can give it up for a while, change your relationship with it. And then slowly, you know, allow a little bit back in here and there, that’s fine. And if that works for you, and you can maintain your health and maintain your weight and maintain your running performance through all of that, then that is awesome. Like you do you absolutely.
But I think it’s stupid to think that we can keep eating a crappy diet, we can keep eating all this junk food and somehow magically, your health and your weight are going to improve. If nothing changes, nothing changes. And sometimes restricting some foods, you know, for a period of time is exactly what you need. So this idea that, you know, foods, we should never restrict any foods or foods in moderation. You know, I think this is not necessarily a helpful philosophy to adopt. Okay?
Some people cannot moderate. Some people cannot moderate things like sugar. It’s kind of like telling the alcoholic Hey, just just drink every now and then we’re telling the person who’s addicted to cocaine, just you know, do cocaine every now and then like, dude, can’t you just moderate your cocaine use isn’t? Doesn’t that sound stupid when I’m saying this out loud? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? It is ridiculous.
But this is what we’re telling people with sugar, which by the way, they’ve done studies that have shown that sugar lights up your brain more than cocaine does. That sugar actually has more of a profound impact on your brain. They’ve done these studies with rats, where rats would be given the choice of sugar or cocaine and the rats would choose the sugar over the cocaine. Poor little rats, right? They’re always being tormented.
But anyway, interesting studies, no doubt. And so if you don’t think sugar is a powerful drug, you know, studies like that kind of prove that it really is a very powerful drug, okay? But it sounds stupid to like, say to the alcoholic, or the drug addict, hey, just moderate your intake, you know, just you know, everybody else can just monitor it, why can’t you just moderate it and know if that particular substance is harmful for you? And that particular substance is something you cannot manage and you cannot control? Maybe it’s best to just cut it out of your life. All right, maybe permanently. I have no problem with that.
If you tell me like, hey, Patrick, I’m just going to cut out sugar and I’m going to do that permanently. I don’t need it anymore. And I’ve had clients who’ve told me that they’re like, I love the way I feel now that I stopped eating sugar. I don’t see any reason to ever go back to eat that junk. And I’m like, yeah, cool. I’m with you. That’s pretty much how I live my life. The most sugar I eat in a month would be some chocolate that I eat every now and then, some dark chocolate that I’ve tried, dark chocolate that’s like stevia flavored or whatever it has a erythritol or something, and I just don’t like it. It just doesn’t really do much for me. So I go to this dark chocolate that I get. And it’s pretty low in sugar. But it does have a little bit of sugar in there. But I’ll just use a little bit of that. And it’s so delicious. And it tastes so good.
And then of course, you know, my birthday, I do a piece of cake, piece of cheesecake or birthday cake or whatever. And then thinking back through this past year, as we’re coming to the end of the year here, how many times have I eaten sugar, a few bars of chocolate and some birthday cake. And that’s about it. That’s about it. It’s very, very minimal.
I’ve changed my whole relationship with sugar. And now I can do it very, very sporadically. And my life is not suffering because of that. So when it comes to never restricting foods, I don’t agree with that. I think that for some of us, it is perfectly fine to restrict foods. And for some people, maybe it’s fine to restrict foods for a period of time and then they can kind of incorporate them back.
But if you’re going to adopt this approach, you have to change your mindset around the food that you’re eating around that sugar or the soda or the desserts or whatever it is. The whole concept of restricting foods, it’s less about what foods you’re eating and not eating. And it’s more about your mindset around all of this.
So if you have this mindset of, you know, I’m going to occasionally house some sugar and it’s going to be okay. I’m going to make some cookies with my kids. And I’m going to eat a couple, great, do that. You have to have the right mindset around it, though.
But if your mindset is like, every time I eat sugar, I go into this, you know, binging behavior, if it’s if eating a little bit of sugar sets you up for for a sugar binge increases your cravings, you can’t stop thinking about it, you can’t stop eating. And once you start, then I’m going to say like, this is not something that you want to mess around with here. Like just stop eating that stuff.
This whole addictive behavior thing needs to stop. Right? This is just like you, you would deal with an alcoholic or a drug addict, like just cut them off. You got to get yourself off of the drug. All foods in moderation does not work. For some people it’s like saying all drugs in moderation. Doesn’t that sounds stupid? Yeah.
So what we want to do here is make a decision. You got to make a decision for yourself, what is it you want for yourself? If you want to lose weight, if you want to change your relationship with food, you’re going to have to probably experience some food restrictions. It’s almost impossible to do it any other way though.
And one of the big reasons why people buy into this idea of all foods in moderation or never restrict any foods. It’s because it justifies their crappy behavior. Right? If you buy into this idea that you should never restrict any foods, then this just justifies that addictive behavior. And you never have to change anything. You don’t have to give up anything. You never have to get uncomfortable. You never have to do anything differently. You can just kind of keep doing what you’re doing. And use well you know, this dietician said all foods should be fine in moderation.
But remember, the same people that are telling you this don’t restrict foods and all foods in moderation are that those people are being, you know, funded and trained and educated by the junk food companies, by the pharmaceutical companies, by the sugar industry. Just don’t listen to them. Okay? Do yourself a favor. Don’t listen to them. If you want to change, if you want to improve your health, improve your fitness. If you want to lose weight, you’re gonna have to make some changes here.
You’re gonna have to get uncomfortable. You’re gonna have to embrace the suck a little bit here, okay? Doesn’t mean forever. But what would it look like for you? If you were to lose this idea that you can eat all foods in moderation? What if? What if you just adopted this idea that Yeah, at least for a while. I’m gonna cut this junk out. I’m gonna stop eating junk food. I’m just gonna stop doing what? How do you think that would change your life? Think about that.
If you no longer ate sugar, if you no longer drink soda, if you no longer ate processed foods, how much better would you feel? How would your weight change? How would you feel about yourself? How would your energy levels be? I think that we all want more for ourselves. And that’s why you’re listening to this podcast right now, is because you want something more for yourself.
And if cutting out some of this junk food is the way that you get there. I say go for it. Absolutely go for it. It’s not a bad thing. Do it and cut some of this stuff out permanently. works better for you and your life, then I’m fine with that. It works for me. Maybe it’ll work for you. That’s all I got for you today. Love you all I really do. Keep on Running Lean. And I’ll talk to you soon.
If you’re a runner and you’ve been struggling to lose weight or you keep losing and gaining the same 10 pounds over and over again. Or you’re finally ready to get to your natural weight and stay there for good this time then I have something you will love. I’ve created a powerful new training just for you called running lean for life. You’ll learn exactly how to transform yourself into a lean fat-burning running machine. So you can run without bonking, lose weight without calorie counting and develop the habits required to make it last for life. To get this free training right now go to runningleanpodcast.com/leanforlife and start your transformation today.