I’ve shared with you many reasons why you should ditch dieting, but I haven’t exactly shared with you how to let go of the dieting mentality that we are all so used to.
If you’ve come to terms with letting go of dieting, yet you still struggle with the nagging thoughts such as:
“How many calories are in this?”
“Ahh, I can’t eat carbs.”
“I was so bad with my eating today.”
“Once I lose the weight, then I’ll __________ (fill in the blank)”
YOU are in the right place!
I’ve created this in depth blog post to teach you exactly why and how you can let go of the diet mentality so that you can start creating healthy habits that actually last.
Did you know….?
Dieting Actually Leads to Weight Gain
We all start out dieting with motivation and the aspiration to lose some pounds. But eventually, after many failed attempts of dieting or “falling off the wagon” we begin to realize diets are not really solving our issues.
Most people have become aware of the research that diets simply are not effective in the long run. What most people don’t realize is that dieting can actually be part of the reason you are gaining weight back in the first place.
Have you ever dieted and lost some weight only to gain more weight once you go off the diet plan?
Research has shown that there are biological mechanism that can trigger weight gain from dieting. The cells in our bodies do not realize that we are restricting calories because we are trying to lose weight, they only know that they are in a state of famine and need to find a way to survive.
In order to help us survive, our cells slow down metabolism and cannibalize its own muscle. This means that the body uses the muscle to burn as fuel because it so desperately needs energy which means when we are restricting calories to lose fat, we may actually be losing muscle.
The truth is our body wants to keep us alive and thriving so the best thing we can do for our bodies is to get reconnected to its innate wisdom.
Dieting Negatively Affects Your Psychological Health and Well-Being
Whether we realize it or not, our psychological health and well-being are greatly affected by dieting.
When we diet we are ignoring any feelings of hunger, food preference, energy needs, or desires to simply follow a set of rules mandated by whatever diet we are following. This causes us to lose trust in ourselves and solely rely on dieting for our decision making around food.
Inevitably when we slip up or fail at our diet, we immediately internalize it and blame ourselves. We may feel like we are failures, lazy, or incapable of reaching our goals. But the truth is the dieting system is what is failing us, not the other way around.
We are constantly brain-washed to believe certain foods are “good” or “bad” for us and we use the food as a way to comfort or punish ourselves. Psychologically (and physically), we are beating ourselves up over and over again by participating in this dieting cycle. We lose complete trust in ourselves and our self-efficacy is shattered.
This is why intuitive or mindful eating can seem almost impossible at first. It can be hard to let go of the rules and shoulds or should nots that we are all so used to living by.
So, hopefully now you are beginning to see why it is essential we ditch the diet mentality to begin to transform our relationship to food and our bodies.
But, how do you do it?
7 Easy Steps to Ditch the Diet Mentality
1. Cultivate Self-Compassion
Whenever I work with a client the first thing we start with is cultivating self-compassion towards oneself and their food choices. It is so important to begin to release all of the self-judgment we have around food. Instead of judging every choice you make, it is important to shift your mindset to come from a place of curiosity over judgment. Self-compassion is about having a neutral and understanding consideration of yourself and your actions. Research has shown that self-compassion can help you overcome the feelings of guilt that you associate with your food choices which means self-compassion is a great tool for promoting change.
To begin to cultivate self-compassion, start by being aware of your thoughts around food. Simply notice what you are thinking and try to remain neutral about your thoughts. It is possible to have negative thoughts and to simply notice them and be curious instead of holding on to them and continuing to beat ourselves up.
2. Identify How Dieting Has Interfered With Your Life
I want you to think of all the different diets you have tried. Make a list and try to remember how you felt before, during, and after the diet. Write down any ways that dieting interfered with your life. Perhaps you became so attached to a specific diet that you feared going out to eat or hanging out with friends? Or maybe you were doing a hard core juice cleanse and felt completely miserable and moody? Make note of any emotions, feelings, or events that may have happened due to dieting. Then ask yourself: Was it worth it? Would you do it again?
By noticing the ways that dieting has interfered with our lives we can begin to see that it is not benefiting or serving us in any way. If anything, dieting is usually causing a whole lot of heartbreak, emotional baggage, and unwanted physical symptoms. Take your time with this exercise and really try to think of all the ways dieting has interfered. It can truly be eye opening to see how dieting really does negatively affect us in all areas of our lives.
3. Release the Tools of Dieting
Diets are full of rules and tools and it’s time to release them. This means stop weighing, measuring, & counting things. If you really want to be more in tune with your body and create healthy habits that actually last then you do not need these tools. Instead you can focus on how your body feels. Are you energized? Are you tired? You can also focus on what your body is craving. What do you want to eat in this very moment? Pause and listen to your body. Start to make decisions based on your own inner wisdom and let go of the external tools that are no longer serving you.
4. Let Go Of the Fantasy
We all have fantasies surrounding weight loss or dieting. Some of think that once we lose the weight we’ll finally have the confidence we’ve been searching for. Others of us may think we’ll finally meet the man of our dreams or get that job we’ve been to scared to apply for. The thing is these are just fantasies. We already have everything we need in order to create our reality and the truth is a lot of times when we do lose the weight or reach some goal we realize nothing has really changed. Losing weight will never truly solve your problems unless you begin to address the underlying issues. Try to let go of the fantasy you have around losing weight and focus on caring for yourself in a way you never have before.
5. Focus on the Benefits of Ditching the Diet Mentality
There are so many benefits to releasing the diet mentality. Freedom! Comfort! Energy! Confidence! These are all things people start to experience when they truly let go of the illusion that another diet will fix their problems. Start to focus on feeling freedom and peace around food and what that could do for you. For me this looked like eating a piece of cake and being able to truly enjoy it without judging or beating myself up for it. It may look different for you, but by focusing on the benefits it will be much easier for you to let go of the obsession and fantasy you associate with dieting.
6. Be Aware of Triggers
There are so many dieting triggers that it can seem almost impossible to escape it. Everywhere you look you will see some sort of promotion around dieting or weight loss. From social media to magazines to restaurants, it is all around us.
It’s important to be aware of what triggers you the most and try to lessen the amount of triggers you are exposed to. Perhaps you can unfollow some fitness gurus on Instagram or ditch the diet magazines you’re subscribed to. Do whatever you have to do to set yourself up for success and stop you from falling back into your old ways of dieting.
You will also want to be aware of your emotional or situational triggers that make you want to diet. By simply noticing and becoming aware of your triggers it will be easier for you to acknowledge and realize that you don't need to diet no matter what situation you are faced with.
7. Shift Your Mindset
The single most effective way to ditch the diet mentality is by completely shifting your mindset. Of course, this can also be the most challenging to do. I mean sometimes we have been thinking these thoughts around dieting for over 20 years!! It will definitely take time to completely change your thoughts and mindset, but it is possible. To begin shifting your mindset, I have 10 Paradigms that I want you to acknowledge and start incorporating them into your life. I highly recommend you print these out and read it everyday.
10 Paradigms To Help You Shift Your Mindset & Discover The Perfect Way of Eating For You:
1. There are as many “right” ways of eating as there are people on the planet!
2. What’s healthy for one person might not be healthy for YOU.
3. The body has an innate wisdom beyond any book or authority.
4. Diets are not useful as dogma, but they ARE useful as a reference.
5. Your body is the ultimate dietary authority for every phase of your life.
6. Your way of eating changes as YOU change.
7. Your body is the most powerful, least expensive and BEST dietary experimentation lab.
8. Your RELATIONSHIP with food & your body impacts your health more than the food you eat.
9. Symptoms, cravings and behaviors are not the problem, they are your only solutions till now.
10. Nourishment is about much more than just food.
It might be scary at first to think that YOU actually have more control of your weight loss experience than a “diet” does.
Most of my clients (once they really open up to this possibility) find it totally liberating and start to feel empowered instead of fearful. YES!
What to do now?
I get that this is a whole new way of looking at your food and your life—it’s in essence, a huge paradigm shift. How great is that?
Now you get to look at the things that weren’t working before through a whole new lens! One that puts YOU at the center of your life. Now that’s empowering!
If you are tired of the false promises of the latest diet fads and sick of following health and wellness trends that don’t work for you, then click here now to learn more about my new course where we will be diving deeper into these revelations and what it really means to be living in YOUR body.