If you are reading this, my guess is that you have been on some sort of diet in your lifetime. And if not a full-blown diet, most likely a “lifestyle change". And even if you’ve never gone on a formal diet or plan, you have probably participated in pseudo-dieting. Think limiting carbs, cutting back on certain foods, drinking coffee or water to suppress your hunger. These are all types of diet mentality. And for most of us, that diet or lifestyle change we attempted did not live up to our expectations. For most, dieting makes things worse. It usually starts out with someone’s desire to be thin, which leads to dieting. Dieting leads to pre-occupation with food and binges. Said person gives in to their cravings (by the way this is a normal response to starvation) and then they regain any weight they lost with the diet, and often more. Psychologists John P. Foreyt and G. Ken Goodrick coined this “The Dieter’s Dilemma.”
Not only does dieting not work for most people, dieting takes your money, your energy and your time. And did you know there are real dangers to dieting? The dangers of course, companies and marketing don’t want you to know about. Dieting usually increases food binges and food preoccupation, it slows metabolism, causes people to gain weight and is strongly linked to the onset of eating disorders, among other things.
So what would you think about never going on another diet again? Like ever. For some people when I mention this concept, it’s a little scary, and rightfully so. It has been engrained in us that we should always be trying some new diet or trend to help us lose weight, prevent disease or increase our longevity. Now don’t misunderstand me, this IS NOT anti-health or anti-nutrition. This IS anti-diet. Properly nourishing ourselves is important and we will get to that.
So how do you reject the diet mentality and move away from the harm that this mentality causes? First, recognize all of the harm that dieting has caused you personally. All of the money, time, energy, etc. Go ahead. Get mad. Say, I deserve to spend my energy on more important things (like smashing the patriarchy) than counting macros and *trying* to make myself smaller. As Rosie Molinary so beautifully puts it in her book Beautiful You, “If we are consumed by our bodies, then we are taking valuable time away from our purpose, from the work we are meant to be doing and the gifts we are meant to be giving this world.”
Another step in rejecting diet mentality is to remember that becoming an intuitive eater is not about success or failure and does not require a certain willpower. These terms belong to diet culture. When these thoughts pop up into your head when thinking about food and health, know that this is a journey not a destination.
And lastly, please, I beg of you to get rid of the scale and other dieting “tools”. These serve no purpose other than to make you feel bad about yourself and often cause overeating or binges when the number on the scale is more than you want to see. You are more than your weight. You are more than your body. And the number on the scale tells you very little at all about your health. So do me a favor and dump that thing in the trash right now. And go ahead and delete those health and fitness apps while you’re at it :)
Rejecting the diet mentality is not something that comes easily for most people. It’s going against the norm. And diet culture is sneaky. Sometimes when I think I’ve ditched that mentality forever, it sneaks back in. But remember. It’s a journey. And there is so much joy out there to be had when you aren’t obsessing about food.