Roadmap to Diet Success

Dancing with Your Chosen Food Plan

August 18, 2022 Miriam Hatoum Season 1 Episode 12
Roadmap to Diet Success
Dancing with Your Chosen Food Plan
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 12:  Dancing With Your Chosen Food Plan

In this episode, hear how 30+ years of experience as a belly dance teacher and performer helped me turn dance lessons into plate lessons.  Truly, there is an escape route out of diet prison and that is learning to dance with your chosen food plan.  See the list of dance-to-plate lessons below to get a glimpse of the dancing you will be doing in this episode.

1:12.          Personal Story
4:00.          Dance-to-Plate Lessons (lesson 1)
7:31.          Lesson 2: Your mindset and paying attention
9:07.          Lesson 3:  Notice how food makes you feel
10:47.       Lesson 4:  Practice!
12:43.       Lesson 5:  Putting steps to music
15:24.       Lesson 6:  Branching out
18:49.       Lesson 7:  This and not also that
21:52.       Lesson 8:  Non-negotiables
23:26.       Build your own road
26:21.       This weeks actionable COACHING ADVICE
27:04.        Special Offer
Episode 14, coming up

Dancing with Low Carb and Keto
Operation Footprint

Access the Transcript Here

Episode #: 12  Dancing with Your Chosen Food Plan

 You’re Listening to the Roadmap to Diet Success Podcast, Episode #12, Dancing With Your Chosen Food Plan.


 Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Breaking Free From Diet Prison, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl!  

Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or services, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!


1:12      Personal Story

I was a successful belly dance teacher and performer for over 30 years. My dancers were well-known throughout New England. Any musician could spot a student of Amira Jamal (my professional dance name) because those dancers were able to dance, without choreography, to any music played for them. More importantly, they danced from the heart. In this episode you will see that the lessons I learned as a dance teacher and performer can be applied to any way you choose to eat and with any program you are following.

Here is the story of one of my dancers, Julia. She is talented and a hard worker, and I felt incredibly lucky to have her as a student. For her first recital with me she had worked very hard on a piece of choreography. During the dress rehearsal she asked several times to stop the music so she could consult her notes. Finally, I said, “Julia, give me your choreography notes. Maybe I can help you.” I took the sheet of paper from her and ripped it in half. Julia – and the rest of the class – were stunned. It looked as though she was going to cry. I said, “NOW you dance. Dance from your heart.”  Did I know for sure that Julia would do a beautiful performance?  Did I know she would survive?  Yes, and Yes. But how did I know this?  I knew this because she knew the steps and the combinations and how to move to the music. I knew that Julia knew it all and could trust herself to dance from her heart.

What does this have to do with eating while following an eating plan? I will reference Keto and Low Carb a lot while explaining things because we just highlighted those two eating plans, but apply this advice to any plan you are following, and you will be successful. You do not have to weigh, measure, count or track your food to be successful. However, you do need to be informed and mindful, and you need to trust yourself. Just as with dancing, where you need to know steps, combinations, nuances and how one thing works with the music and another thing does not, you can’t just “eat low carb” or just “eat Keto” or just eat anyway else without an understanding of what it is you are eating.

4:00    Dance-to-Plate Lessons

If you don’t make this harder than it needs to be, you will find success with any eating plan you decide upon. 

·       Your first dance-to-plate lesson is to start by learning the steps

o   These steps are made from the knowledge and understanding of where your carbs come from and how much each food “costs” you. 

o   With Keto, these steps are made from understanding the macronutrients of carbohydrates, protein and fat, and how they will put you into ketosis and ultimately help you lose weight. 

o   With low carb, these steps are made from your understanding of carbohydrates and your decision about what foods you want to include in your eating plan. 

o   With other eating plans, such as Paleo or Mediterranean you may need to learn whether a certain food fits the parameters. 

·       At the very least, if you make yourself a Yes/No list and eat from that, you will only need to track your carbohydrates to make sure you do not go over your total allowance in either Low Carb or Keto.

o    If you are aiming for a low carb lifestyle, eat from the same Yes/No food list that you might be using for Keto, but keep foods such as baked goods, grains, legumes, fruit or foods containing sugar to only two or three servings a day. 

o   Regarding Keto, keep in mind that you can still eat Keto by following the Yes/No list, but please know that Keto is not necessarily a weight loss diet. 

·       It can be, but at the start you may need to be stricter than just tracking carbohydrates. 

·       This may mean paying close attention to foods such as dairy, nuts and seeds.

·       You may “shape shift,” – and this may be true with other ways of eating – meaning that you might not lose any weight but might go down a size or two in clothing. 

·       This is because your body composition will be changing.

·        However, if you eat when you are not hungry or you eat when you are beyond full, it will simply be too much food for your body to process. 

·       The quality of the food will make you healthier, but the quantity of food might keep you fat!  

·       If you have dieted your whole life, your safe way to approach low carb or Keto or any other eating plan would be to weigh, measure and track your food, because, as usual, an external source has been telling you when you have had enough. Dancing will show you that you can lose weight without doing any of those things.

o    If you are willing to put in some work and listen to your body and eat only when hungry and stop when satisfied, you might not lose weight quickly, but it will become a comfortable lifestyle and the weight loss will be lasting. 

o   You will ultimately achieve goals that you set for yourself.

o   Tracking the elements of your intake (such as macros and calories) is on one end of the process and going totally “freestyle” is on the other. 

o   Your success may lie somewhere in between.

7:31     The next dance-to-plate lesson is minding your Mindset and Paying Attention

·       Let’s look at the concept of “as if” for dancing – or anything in life. 

o   Walk as if you have confidence and you will. 

o   Smile as if you have confidence and you will. 

o   Dance as if you have confidence and you will. 

o   Exude pride as if you have it and you will. 

·       Stop telling yourself you can’t do it. 

·       With every meal you prepare and with every bite you take, tell yourself “I am smart and intelligent, and I can do this. I am eating low carb (or Keto or whatever) and every step of the way I am moving toward better health and achieving my goals.”  

·       Keep it up and you will move towards better health and achieving your goals. 

·  First you must believe

o   You need to know that you are worthy and capable of making this change in your life. 

o   You need to know you are intelligent enough to do it and to make decisions about the food that is in front of you. 

o   I found for myself that just learning to get into the correct mind-space was more valuable than any practical aspects of learning Keto and low carb.

·       From there, when I was teaching my dancers to dance from the heart, we spent time listening to all sorts of music and seeing how the music made our bodies move.

9:07    Your next Dance-to-plate Lesson is to learn to dance by noticing how food makes you feel. 

o   Does a food make you feel good, give you energy and satisfy you, or does some food make you feel nauseous, uncomfortable, tired and leave you wanting more while sending you into a binge?  

o   You may have food sensitivities that you never noticed because your default physical feeling is feeling crummy. You are used to it.

o   Sometimes you aren’t even aware of this because you are so accustomed to feeling subpar. 

o   So many people remark that they never knew they could feel so much better by cutting out something like dairy or eggs. 

o   Sometimes eliminating just one food can even end the binges because you are satisfied with what you are eating and are not searching for a way to feel better. 

o   Start paying attention to what you are eating. 

o   You are wiser than you think. 

o   Do you feel bloated after a meal? What was in it? 

o   Do you need a nap after lunch? What did you eat? 

o   Are you itchy? What caused that itchiness (for me it was eggs - who knew?)? 

o   Are you sneezing? Is your throat scratchy? Do you just feel sapped of energy? What have you eaten since breakfast? 

o   Pay attention! Become your own detective. 

10:47  The next Dance-to-plate Lesson is practicing the steps over and over again! 

o   My dancers kept notebooks with the steps we were learning. Every class started with drills. It didn’t matter if you were a new student or had studied with me for ten or more years. We drilled the same steps every week and slowly added new ones to our notebooks. 

o   This is where you keep your own notebook with steps. 

o   Even with a Yes/No list you still need to know counts (carbs, specifically) in order to be successful with weight loss. 

o   List your favorite foods and what a good portion would be. You can do this by putting foods into a food calculator like My Fitness Pal or Carb Manager and then writing down the protein, fat and carbohydrate count in each unit of food if you are new to Keto, or just write down the carbohydrate counts. 

o   You can use a book like Dr. Atkins NEW Carbohydrate Gram Counter. 

§  I found this easy to carry with me when I would not be preparing my own meals at my own house. 

o   Mindfulness with this approach is more than half the battle. 

o   Listen to your body and decide what makes it sing and dance! 

o   Any food restrictions are usually less than what you might think. 

o   You are only as limited as your mind tells you that you are.

o   Know yourself.  Pay particular attention to any foods that might trigger you. For instance, your food plan might allow an artificially sweetened candy, but if that one candy triggers urges, binges and cravings, it is not something you want to include.

12:43   Your next Dance-to-plate Lesson is Putting Steps to Music.

·       Although I did not teach choreography as a rule, I would start my beginner dancers with two or three very simple dances so that they could practice which steps went with which music. 

o   They learned quickly what steps matched which music so they could make up routines for themselves. 

o   Better yet, they were never puzzled when faced with live music that in no way resembled the recorded music to which they had practiced, even if it was the same song.

o    Once you have practiced your steps and have also practiced your mindset and food feedback (i.e., foods that feel good in your body and quantities that work), it is pretty easy to tell if something fits your needs or not. 

o   Take your basic foods that you like and especially those that are easy to pack if you need to bring food to work. 

o   Don’t make it complicated. 

§  At the beginning, weigh and measure everything and learn what a portion size is if you haven’t already learned that by years of dieting; and how much protein, fat and carbohydrate is in that serving, especially if you are doing strict Keto. 

§  If you are not new to dieting, you may know already how to figure portion sizes without weighing or measuring. 

§  I have had several clients who are successful just using a visual and never use a measuring spoon, a measuring cup or a food scale. 

·       Your fingertip is about a teaspoon

·       Your thumb from knuckle to tip is about a tablespoon

·       Your fist is about a cup

·       The front of your clenched fist is about ½ cup

·       The palm of your hand is about 3 ounces of protein

·       By knowing the steps of the dance (such as macros or points or calories, if you are counting any of those) you can eventually start to put together meals which will not require measuring and tracking. 

o   You will learn when some mayonnaise or butter will round out your daily fat requirement for Keto. 

o   You will learn whether a salad will add a few safe carbs 

o   You will learn whether you haven’t had enough protein and you might want to add a sprinkling of cheese to your meal.

o    You are starting to dance to the music!

15:24   The next Dance-to-plate Lesson  is Branching Out into more complicated steps and music.

·       After my dancers learn simple steps with simple music we branch out into more complicated steps and more complicated music.

o    But again, it doesn’t happen without practice.

o    It does become easier once the dancer understands the concepts and the nuances of the steps or hears the music in a more educated way so that the complicated and nuanced movements flow with the music. 

o   If you become tired of basic meals and foods, it is time to branch out into recipes. 

o   But don’t rush this. 

o   You must learn the basic steps before you can start to put together combinations via recipes. 

o   If the recipe does not already have nutritional information, it is a good idea to work with some sort of recipe builder (or write everything out by hand) so that you are aware of the nutrition counts and the portion sizes. 

o   Once you have followed a recipe and you understand the ingredients and portions you can begin to do it on your own which is very advanced non-choreography. 

o   Baking is a science, so it is important to precisely follow the recipe. 

o   However, once you have made something like a soup or a stir-fry, you can alter the flavor profiles or quantities of ingredients while still having a sense of the macro or the nutrient count. 

·       Find recipes that the whole family will love. 

o   Sort out flavor profiles so that you become comfortable changing up recipes as you need to. 

o   By flavor profiles I mean that you can take a pound of hamburger and season it with Italian seasonings one night, TexMex another night and Asian another. 

o   Change up the veggies or side dishes. 

o   If you are eating low carb and know how the recipe generally fits into your food plan, you can add diced potatoes one night and pasta the next. 

o   You do not have to rework the entire recipe to dance with it!

·       One word about not being exact on all the counts, whether or not you are doing Keto or low carb or any other eating style:  

o   Some people are extremely sensitive to carbohydrates. 

o   For instance, you may have very severe insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that you are trying to reverse. 

o   You may have yo-yo dieted your whole life so that your metabolism is wonky. 

o   In these instances, you may find that you don’t have as much leeway as I am suggesting here. 

o   However, even when you are varying recipes you can begin to trust yourself. With straight-away foods – like an egg or a slice of cheese, or a recipe that you always make the same way, it is even easier.

18:49  The next Dance-to-plate Lesson is This and Not Also That.

·       A dancer must also understand the concept of “this and not also that.”

o    A dancer must understand not to make her dancing too busy. 

o   She must learn not to dash from one end of the stage to the other, not to twirl her hands around incessantly or repeat the same steps over and over again. 

o    Using Keto as an example, to stay within your macros for the day without the counting, you must make sure that your eating day is not too busy. 

o   Eating certain life-style plans is for health, not necessarily weight loss. 

o   But if you do want to lose weight there are certain things you have to adhere to no matter what you are doing. 

o   The first rule is no grazing!

·       But in terms of a day being busy, I mean more than just grazing. 

o   If you have had a green smoothie for breakfast, go light on the salad at lunch or cooked vegetables at dinner so you have more room for protein and fat.

o   Do not worry about too much protein (very little chance that you are eating too much) but do try not to have a 12-ounce rib-eye steak for each meal – not that you would, but I hope you get my point. 

o   It is fine to look at your food meal by meal and indeed I recommend that but try also to look at your day as a whole, in addition to meal by meal. 

o   A good place to start is look at your plate and ask yourself, “Will this get me to my goal?” 

o   Food by food (step by step) and plate by plate (combination by combination), you will find yourself dancing in no time! 

·       Even though a low carb lifestyle, and other eating plans, may be less strict than Keto, you still need to make sure that you are not overloading your plate with the same food meal after meal or eating the same foods all the time. 

o   Did you have toast at breakfast? 

o   Maybe in that case use your carbohydrates at lunch in a rice bowl instead of a sandwich.

o    Did you have rice at lunch? 

o   Maybe in that case have a higher-carb vegetable at dinner such as carrots or beets. 

o   Your body will thank you for not eating the same foods over and over again at every meal.

·       Some people meal plan so that dinner on Monday would be the perfect lunch on Tuesday to complement breakfast and dinner that day. 

o   Change up leftovers by varying the side vegetables or the dressing on your salad. 

o   Eventually you will not even need the guidance of meal planning. It’s just dancing!

21:52   The final Dance-to-plate lesson is about Non-Negotiables.

·       With dancing there are non-negotiables.

o    A frown and a down-turned head could erase months and months of work and dull the beauty that the dancer worked so hard to achieve for her performance level. 

o   There are some specific non-negotiables with eating plans as well. 

o   Let me start with Keto. 

§  These non-negotiables would be no grains (not even oatmeal for breakfast), 

§  no starchy vegetables (that’s right – throw out your bags of baby carrots), 

§  no fruit (except berries after you have had Keto success for a while), and

§   no refined carbohydrates, legumes or starchy vegetables. 

·       It is harder to define “non-negotiables” for a low carb lifestyle because if you are allowing all foods, what is there to omit? 

o   However, you can decide for yourself how to define your low carb lifestyle. 

o   You may have your own list of non-negotiables such as no sugar or foods containing sugar, no baked goods, no grains or legumes. 

o   You might allow yourself a dessert once in a while but say no potatoes or bread. 

o   Most other eating styles also have their own non-negotiables.

o   The point is, this is your lifestyle, your decisions and your dance. 

23:26  Build your Own Road 

My strongest piece of advice is to build your own road

·       It is admittedly difficult when all your life you have dieted and have followed someone else’s rules. 

o   Think of this experience, this dancing, as building your own road with your own parameters and boundaries. 

o   With practice and experience you will eventually find the way to hold up your head and smile. 

o   You will dance confidently and avoid all the stumbling blocks of the past while embracing the non-negotiables of the present. 

o   You will learn how to dance from the heart, I promise.

·       The trick is to be mindful. 

·       When you use a digital tracker or track by hand, you get to the end of the day and an outside source (the tracker) tells you when you have had enough to eat for the day. 

·       Once you learn to dance from the heart and make a commitment to the non-negotiables, you will find that low carb, Keto or any eating plan, can actually be very easy ways of eating. 

·       You might be tempted to go running back to the external controls (weighing, measuring, tracking) if you have had an eating “frenzy,” no matter how long or short, large or small. Don’t do that. Just start with the very next meal. Just Dance! 

·       Remember, nothing and no one will be perfect from the start.

o    Give yourself that grace.

o    Don’t give up too soon. 

o   Don’t just try it out. 

o   Do it and do it over and over again until it becomes right for you. 

o   This is practicing. 

o   THIS is freedom. 

·       One last word: Don’t misunderstand what dancing with freedom is.

o   It is not permission to eat anything you want, as much of it as you want and any time you want. 

o   The true freedom path, the true dancing, is to make the right decisions for yourself, grocery shopping excursion after grocery shopping excursion, recipe after recipe and meal after meal. 

o   It is work. 

o   But, as you do it over and over again it becomes easier and easier because you are not tiring out your decision-making muscles with all the heavy lifting that comes with learning new things.


o   I just want you to take the time to listen to this podcast more than once. The action items are the lessons I have given with each level of learning how to dance. Or else, go and download the transcript and use that. Each lesson is outlined the way I present it here in the podcast.

o   Take to heart what I have told you about steps, putting the steps to music, branching out into more complicated steps and music, this and not also that, non-negotiables and building your own road.

27:04  Special Offer  

My e-book, Dancing with Low Carb and Keto has a bit more information in it than what was covered in this episode, such as teaching about external and internal locus of control and some suggestions for how to round out your meals so that you hit all your nutrients for the day. The price of this e-Book is a nominal $5, and every purchase goes 100% to Operation Footprint.

The link for Operation Footprint, if you want to learn more, is in the show notes and transcript. The mission of this organization is to provide free surgical care to indigent children with a variety of inherited (genetic) and acquired conditions of the foot and ankle, such as clubfoot, lingering polio deformities and cerebral palsy and to train local surgeons to be able to manage and treat these conditions.

And before I go, I want to ask you: How would it feel to hear your name featured on my podcast and shared with my community? When you leave a 5-star review, you’ll get the chance to be featured on air as our next listener of the week! Just scroll down in your Apple app, or wherever you listen to this podcast, tap the 5 stars and leave a sentence or two letting me know how this show has impacted your life or how you expect it to. Your review helps others find the show, and I would be so grateful to receive these reviews, especially because I am just starting out. Positive reviews by my listeners are so important and would mean more to me than you can imagine.

By the way!! If you’ve ever got a question you’d like to ask me or share a topic idea that you would like to have me cover on a future episode, don’t be a stranger! I hang out on Instagram@Roadmap to Diet Success, or you can contact me through my Facebook page, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, which I would love you to Like and Join. I also look forward to hearing from listeners like you. You can also email me directly…

Upcoming Episode

Next week I am going to continue with the series about different eating plans and styles. I am going to help you explore Whole 30, Primal and Paleo eating styles.  

So go share the show with your friends, let them know that’s coming up in the next episode, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison with my Roadmap to Diet Success.

 Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.