Why Understanding Your Psychology is Key To Nutrition
From our personality to the traumas carried in our nervous system, our psychology impacts our nutritional health. To find a diet that works for our bodies, we must first consider the mental factors at play. The Ultimate Nutrition Bible, by Matt Gallant and Wade Lightheart, explores this topic in depth.
Most diets fail. 97% of dieters don’t go three years without gaining back the weight that they’ve lost. This leads many to keep trying new diets and find early results, only to end up back where they started in the long term. This cycle is such a common experience that it even has its own term: yo-yo dieting.
The incredibly low success rates of most diets should mean that the nutrition and wellness space is failing miserably, right? On the contrary, the weight loss industry only continues to grow in value, year over year. The constant lack of results actually creates a larger business for gurus, experts, and brands that swear by this diet or that – as they have a perennial group of customers ready to try the next new thing that’ll make their nutrition dreams come true.
What’s been missing is an unbiased look at nutrition, one that trades hype and one-size-fits-all solutions with principles that help the individual take a personalized approach to long-term results. Simply put, your body, nutrition objectives, and mind is unique – and so is the approach that will actually lead you to better health.
It’s for this reason that The Ultimate Nutrition Bible, co-authored by Matt Gallant and Wade Lightheart, is poised to disrupt the world of dieting and nutrition. Gallant and Lightheart, Co-Founders of BIOptimizers, have put together a thoroughly researched and comprehensive guide to tailoring nutrition to your specific goals, psychology, and genetics.
What stands out to me is the psychology piece of the puzzle. When we discuss dieting and nutrition, we have a disposition to focus on the physical aspects of reaching our goals. When a diet works (or, more often, doesn’t), we tend to view the tangible elements of the nutrition plan as the prime mover. When we discuss the mind and its role in weight loss or gain (depending on your goals), we often only focus on surface area items such as willpower.
But as Gallant and Lightheart explore in their book, there’s so much more going on – and by not understanding our psychology, we’re getting in the way of reaching our goals.
Psychology is complicated. There are many levels to the way our brains function. For this article, let’s peel away two key layers.
The first is more obvious: for a diet to work, it has to be structured in a way that actually appeals to you.
“If you’re talking about following a diet for the rest of your life,” Gallant says, “ask yourself right out of the gate, ‘could I follow this diet until I’m 80 or 90?’ If the answer is no, you know right off that bat that it’s not sustainable.”
Personality and lifestyle – the easier to grasp yet crucially important elements of your psychology – play a key role. Instead of restricting your predispositions, Gallant and Lightheart recommend working alongside them in order to create something that will work for you in the long haul.
Lightheart paints the picture by sharing about one of their business partners, who’s a hyper-disciplined person. For him, a one meal a day diet is easy to stick to. Gallant, on the other hand, allows himself one diet break a week so that he never feels like he’s missing out on something. Lightheart, with his predispositions driving him in a different direction, would “rather just stay locked in for a great length of time till I do whatever I want, because when I go off the reservation, it’s hard for me to reel myself back in. Understanding these aspects about yourself are key.”
The next layer takes us much deeper, venturing into the subconscious to understand both ourselves and our relationships with food. The Ultimate Nutrition Bible discusses emotional health in depth, working with a scientific consensus that adverse and traumatic experiences going back as far as childhood can create struggles with weight loss in adulthood.
Food – especially for those with addictive personalities – can become a coping mechanism for dealing with the large and small-T trauma that we carry in our nervous systems. Without processing these, our bodies hold onto them – and continue to crave excess foods in order to satiate them.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and meditative reflection can be useful ways to clear this backlog of trauma and emotional weight. For a new nutrition plan to work, this must be the first step, as creating a serene and stable baseline creates the mental environment for you to succeed in the long-term.
Putting in the work to understand your personal psychology has a practical benefit as well, as you can make an effort to surround yourself with people that you can get motivation, help, and community from.
Hyper-disciplined people (like athletes) make lots of social sacrifices in order to pursue top-of-the-line fitness. This can be isolating, so surrounding yourself with other high-performers that understand the lifestyle can be uplifting. People who seek nurturing and the support of a group can look for spaces where they are not the only ones working towards big goals. This creates accountability and a strength in numbers. What’s important is that you’re intentional about what spaces you’re putting yourself into, holding first-and-foremost an understanding of your personal psychological needs.
Psychology is central to your nutrition – yet there’s much more to the picture when it comes to achieving your goals. For all that and more, grab yourself a copy of Matt Gallant and Wade Lightheart’s The Ultimate Nutrition System.