February 17, 2019 | Lex Daddio
Intuitive Eating Principle #1- Reject The Diet Mentality:
Good morning & happy Sunday! I said I’d get out one post a week so finally getting this one up! If you’re reading this and you’re sick and tired of dieting and you feel like you keep going in the same cycle over and over again. I feel you & I get it. If you don’t feel like you’re struggling with that, then this post probably isn’t for you. & that’s great! But for those that do, trust me, I felt the same way. On the other hand, I was also petrified to not diet, because if I didn’t, I was scared I would be out of control around food. I was one of those people that needed a plan to stick to. Because otherwise, wouldn’t I eat everything in sight? That’s what I thought. Turns out once I started giving myself permission to eat foods I really enjoyed, I ended up discovering a whole new way of living. I also learned more about what foods I actually really liked and what foods I was just eating because everyone said to.
For most people, including myself, dieting can be a way to focus on something other than your life. Or to have some feeling of control when everything else in your life feels out of control. This was me 100%! Diets usually start out pretty exciting. You feel super hopeful because this could FINALLY be the answer to you feeling good, getting “skinny”, and achieving happiness. I hate to break it to you, but if this was the truth then we wouldn’t constantly be going on a new diet. Think about it, there is a diet industry that is literally making an insane amount of money on people by offering a new promise/ diet/ trend that will finally make you feel your best. They don’t work friends, I’m sorry, but they just don’t. We have to acknowledge that and internalize it, because once you truly realize this, you can break free from the diet noise and pressure around you.
In the Intuitive Eating book, it talks about a study done about dieting. They came up with research showing that dieting can actually make you end up gaining more weight in the long run. It makes sense, because if you think about it, you usually lose weight at first, but then you quiet or your diet ends and you end up gaining that weight or more back. Bringing you right back to the start of a new diet.
“Dieting increases cravings and urges for food. The dieter gives into the craving, overeats, and eventually regains any lost weight. He is back to where he started, with the original weight– or higher. And once again the dieter has the desire to be thin … and another diet begins.” (pg, 46-47).
There’s also a term called “pseudo-dieting”, which is basically when you aren’t on an actual diet, but you’re still living by dieting thoughts and rules. They tend to push you toward dieting behaviors and you’re basically unconsciously dieting. Some examples of this are: counting carbs, eating only foods that you feel are “safe”, eating only at certain times of the day even if you’re hungry, punishing yourself for eating what you consider “bad” foods, cutting back on food when you feel fat, avoiding hunger with drinks like coffee or diet soda, second-guessing or judging what you deserve to eat, eating only vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo etc for the sole purpose of losing weight. Usually someone doesn’t realize they’re living by these dieting rules or restrictions, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize these things when you’re in them. I’m telling you though, you don’t have to live that way if you don’t want to!
Here are some practical ways that are shared in the book, Intuitive Eating, to help you reject the diet mentality:
1. Recognize & acknowledge the damage dieting does:
Realizing that dieting is the problem and not helping you can help you break free from the dieting mentality. It’s actually proven to lead to things like: teaching your body to retain more fat when you start eating again, slowing the rate of weight loss in the long run, decreasing metabolism, increasings binges & cravings, causing your hunger/ fullness cues to be out of whack, and causing your body shape to change too regularly. Other side effects people have are headaches, dry skin, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, and hair loss. I actually dealt with every single one of these. If this doesn’t make you believe dieting isn’t good then I don’t know what will. I know they seem like they work at first and can be exciting, but you almost always end up back where you started. Is that really worth it?
2. Be aware of diet mentality traits and thinking:
The dieting mentality can be super sneaky, even when you decide to reject dieting. When you aren’t dieting, you can finally let go of trying to have willpower, having to be obedient, and feeling like a failure. Willpower literally means trying to avoid your natural desire and to replace it with rules to follow. That’s definitely not very intuitive. It’s basically going against your natural instincts. There is a time and place for self discipline, etc but not right here. When dieting gives you rigid rules, you tend to want to rebel and do the exact opposite. IE helps you finally let go of those rules and make peace with food and your body. You can start working with it rather than against it. Doesn’t that sound nice? Because it is, and it IS possible. Being told what to do can actually bring out your rebellious side and make you want to do the exact opposite. Think about your mom telling you no to something growing up. Did it make you want to do it more? It did for me, haha! It’s normal and part of human nature. So at the end of the day, no one can tell you what to do, what to eat, or how much, because you are the only one who knows what you enjoy, how much feels good, and when you’re hungry. It will definitely take time to learn this, so have grace and patience with yourself. You literally have to reframe your mind and thoughts and let go of the rules. Lastly, do diets make you feel like a failure? Because I sure felt that way. I’d always end up failing it and feeling so much shame and guilt. I was covered in it. Instead of always failing, you can find a place of not dieting. How can you fail if you aren’t on a diet to begin with?!
3. Get rid of the dieter’s tools:
One of the best things I ever did was through away my scale. My day used to be dictated by the number on the scale. If it was higher than I hoped, then the day was ruined, and if it was lower, then I did a good job and was “happy”. It was an exhausting way to live. Constantly trying to manipulate the number, track all my food, and figure out what was finally going to make me lose the weight. Nothing did. No diet I ever tried did. Not until I let it all go did my body finally find a natural weight that I’ve maintained for a couple years now without having to diet. This is coming from a girl that has been dieting since about 8th grade. I was always “chubby” growing up an have been dieting since then, which makes me sad to think of now. This is to tell you that I’m not naturally skinny, etc and I still have extra love around my stomach and I’m actually okay with it. I used to live on binging and juice cleanses/ diets. It was not sustainable, and I was so over it. You are more than the number on the scale. That does NOT measure your worth. Also, you have to realize that a pound is not equal to a pound. So many factors can come into play, whether it’s water weight or so many other things. I thought this reference was a GREAT point.
“The scale does not reflect body composition– just like weighing a piece of steak at the butcher’s does not tell you how lean the meat is.”
I never thought of it that way, but it makes SO MUCH sense to me. So throw away any measuring tools! You are not a science experiment and neither is your food. Liberate yourself and stop weighing, I promise it’ll change your life!
4. Be compassionate toward yourself:
This is the most important step, because it takes time! Also, it’s honestly kind of a weird feeling when you aren’t dieting anymore, because you’ll start to realize that so many people around you talk about dieting and their body all the time. It almost starts to feel like you don’t fit in for a little bit, but that’s okay. Don’t let yourself feel bad about NOT being on a diet, and remind yourself you’re going to feel better, and I believe it’ll be worth it for you. It has been for me. I feel more free in my food choices than I ever have. I want others to experience the freedom I’ve found if they’re someone who feels so weighed down and exhausted by constant dieting like I did!
That’s all for now, and I hope this was helpful ! Remember, there is A LOT to come after this. This is just principle #1, so if this feels impossible or even confusing, I think it’ll continue to make more sense as we dive deeper in. Hope you all have a beautiful day!
Tribole, E. and E. Resch. 2012. Intuitive Eating, 3rd edition. St. Martin’s Press, NY:NY.