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How IIFYM healed my relationship with food

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By now you’ve probably heard of the flexible diet IIFYM (If it fits your macros). We’ve actually posted a lot about it over the years.

Plate of chicken salad on crackers

In case you haven’t, IIFYM is basically a very detailed way of tracking your food intake. You keep track of not only carbs, but fats, and protein as well. For accurate tracking, weighing foods to the gram on a food scale is recommended.

From the outside looking in, it seems overly obsessive. It seems like something that could very easily lead to an eating disorder, but it actually did the opposite for me and many others.

Tracking macros has completely healed my relationship with food.

Before IIFYM

I used to be a major yo-yo dieter. I’ve tried juice fasts, 21 day diets, South Beach, and just plain old clean eating. I was trained to believe that certain foods were “bad” while others were “good.” I would follow my diet really well for about 5 days at a time and then mess up and binge on the foods from the bad list.

bowl of garlic flavored baked potato wedges with ketchup

Eating these foods made me feel so much guilt. I not only had guilt from giving up on my goals and myself but also from eating poor quality food. So, I would follow up this binge with the obvious next step: cardio and restricted eating. This never worked. It was a vicious cycle that I would repeat any time I attempted a diet.

What I’ve learned is that most fad diets are unrealistic and set you up for failure. You should never cut out a food group. Your body needs it all. It needs the protein, it needs the fat, and it definitely needs the carbs. Carbs are not the enemy.

I wanted to believe that the reason I was not losing weight was because of bread or candy or whatever other “bad” food I ate. But, the truth is, it’s not the type of food I was eating, it was the amount.

On my binges, I would eat away any calorie deficit I had achieved throughout the week making weight loss impossible.

My first week following IIFYM

This was such an eye-opening time for me. I actually had to pay attention to the nutrition facts of the food I ate. This meant no more assuming all foods labeled “organic” were good for me and that all fast food was bad.

before and after IIFYM success

7 things I learned from IIFYM that healed my relationship with food:

  1. When I just ate “clean,” I was seriously undereating, which is why I would binge.
  2. My body needs carbs, A LOT of carbs.
  3. If a candy bar fits in my macros, it won’t hinder my progress.
  4. I don’t need to punish myself with extra cardio if I have a treat.
  5. There is A LOT of fat in 1 tbs of peanut butter.
  6. Good fats are not free calories. They can still make you gain weight in excess.
  7. I can lose weight eating more calories than I ever imagined.

The biggest thing IIFYM has taught me is that there are no bad or good foods.

picture of pumpkin bars

Weight loss is very simple. It just comes down to eating less calories than you are burning. Heck, you can lose weight on an all donut diet if you are in a calorie deficit.

The reason you want to hit your specific macronutrient goals is to make sure your weight loss comes from fat and not a combo of fat & muscle. So, eating that all donut diet wouldn’t be the best for muscle retention. Bummer.

I definitely prefer to eat clean a majority of the time and my body feels better when I do. But, having the flexibility to enjoy a treat here and there has been so key to my mental and physical health. I no longer binge eat because no food is off limits.

Will I continue tracking?

When I take time off from tracking, I naturally eat less food and end up feeling sluggish. Following IIFYM ensures I will eat enough food to fuel my workouts and still have energy to run around with my kids. Food is fuel.

iifym allows me to have energy to run around with my kids. food is fuel

I’m not sure that weighing every bite of food that goes into your mouth is a realistic forever lifestyle, but it is a great tool.

I have been tracking off and on for 4 years now and I love it. I have used IIFYM to bounce back from two pregnancies. I have also used it to learn portion control.

If you think you need to eat 1200 calories a day in order to lose weight and are terrified of certain foods/food groups, I highly recommend IIFYM.

It has helped me relax around foods and learn that 1 treat will not derail my progress. It has healed my relationship with food and allowed me to enjoy it again. I can now, truly live a balanced and healthy life without any guilt.