Diets rarely work, and individuals who do lose weight will likely regain the weight back and then some. Dieting is pretty miserable too. I don’t know anyone who is happy when they are dieting. The constant hunger, inability to eat what you want, feeling guilty when you fail…basically nothing good comes out of it. In my work with clients seeking to achieve a more balanced approach to eating and develop a better relationship with food, I tell them one of the first steps towards these goals is to ditch the diet mentality.
What is a diet mentality? This is a belief that the restriction of food will lead to happiness. People with a diet mentality correlate weight loss with self worth. They place food into good and bad categories and feel an immeasurable amount of guilt when they eat off limit foods. The diet mentality skews your ability to recognize hunger and fullness cues. It also forces individuals to rely on external tools such as calorie counting, food and body scales, portion control and timing of meals to dictate food choices.
Letting go of the diet mentality is a challenging task, but not impossible. Here are a few ways to start transitioning away from this type of thinking:
- Make a list of all of the diets you have ever been on. Note your success with each one and remember back to how you felt while you were on the diet. Were you happy when you were on these diets? What challenges did you face?
- Write down any food rules you follow. Do you stop eating at a certain time? Do you restrict yourself to a certain number of calories or macronutrient amounts? Next to each rule, write down the reason for the rule, how the rule makes you feel, and how you feel when you don’t follow it.
- Pick one day per week and just eat by how you feel. Forget food portions or measurements. Don’t track your calories or macronutrients, and don’t weigh yourself. Instead, try tuning into your hunger and eat based on that.
- Start removing the judgment from your food choices. If you want a cookie, eat the cookie but turn any negative thoughts about eating the cookie into a positive one. Instead of “I’m so bad, I ate a cookie”, say “That cookie was delicious and it is what my body wanted.”
Changing this way of thinking is the first step of becoming an Intuitive Eater. It takes time and it’s not easy. If you are tired of battling with food, and tired of spending money on diets that do not work, invest some time into learning about Intuitive Eating and my FIT Program.