Take a moment to look at this picture. Does this cycle look familiar to you? This cycle depicts what we call “diet mentality” and many of us get stuck in this never-ending cycle. What if we choose to stop the cycle?
Imagine the possibilities!
First, let’s quickly revisit what intuitive eating is. The idea of intuitive eating is to finally throw out this diet mentality that so many of us have been stuck in, which can be much easier said than done! After years and years of being stuck in this mentality we lose touch with what our bodies are trying to tell us. How many times has your stomach growled asking for food, but remembering the cookie you ate yesterday, you mentally suppress it into silence? Intuitive eating is being kind to our bodies and giving it what it needs when it needs it. It is honoring our body’s hunger cues and signals.
There are 10 principles of intuitive eating and today we are going to focus on principal #1: Reject the Diet Mentality. Intuitive eating itself is essentially the “anti-diet” so the first step of mastering intuitive eating is ridding yourself of diet mentality.
Have you ever been on a diet? I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you have been on more than one in your life, maybe even in the past year. Why did those diets fail? I have some news that you may find shocking: diets don’t work! There is even research to prove this. Not only does the research show diets don’t work, but it also shows that those who diet are at higher risk for physical and psychological problems like eating disorders, depression, decreased metabolism, increased abdominal fat, binging, and even premature death.
So then why do so many of us fall into the diet trap?
The US diet industry profits over $78 BILLION in any given year. What would this industry do if a diet actually worked? They would lose all their clientele! This industry thrives because diets don’t work, and people are desperate to find one that does.
So now that we know diets don’t work and diet mentality is a harmful cycle, you may be asking “so what am I supposed to do?!”
The answer is: shift your mindset away from thinking thin=healthy and more towards nourishing your body with nutrient filled foods you enjoy and treating your body with kindness. Below are a few steps you can try incorporating into your day that can help you rid yourself of diet mentality.
Decide there are no “good” or “bad” foods
Years of dieting and rules can trick your brain into categorizing foods as “good” or “bad”, but the reality is there are no bad foods! Take a moment to think of some foods you consider “bad”. I’m willing to bet it’s a food item that you think is your “weakness” and feel you can’t control yourself when eating. But what if I told you that by labeling this food as “bad” you have now made it even more desirable and makes you want to eat it even more? This is called the “forbidden fruit syndrome”. If this sounds familiar it’s because almost every diet operates this way. You deprive yourself of this food as you crave it more and more until eventually you “fail” and eat it, and sometimes binge it because you’ve craved it for so long. This will ultimately lead you to feeling guilty and angry at yourself for your lack of control. But it isn’t lack of control. The first step to breaking this cycle is ridding all foods of the “good” and “bad” label. With intuitive eating, no foods are off limits! Take time this week to enjoy a food you previously viewed as off limits!
Recognize the damage your past diets have caused you
Think about all your previous diets. How did you feel on those diets? What did these diets cost you- money, social outings, friendships, your feelings towards your body? Why did you go on the diet to begin with? My guess is you started that diet because of the underlying belief that being thinner will bring you happiness. But I am here to tell you that thinness does not equal happiness or health in most cases. What good is being thin if you’re restricting calories to an unhealthy and miserable level or missing out on the neighborhood BBQ? Recognize all that dieting has taken from you and see the possibilities of intuitive eating!
Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues
We feel hunger and fullness for a reason, this is your body talking to you! To rid yourself of diet mentality it is essential that you are tuned in to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. If you have been dieting for a long time you may not sense these ques as strongly as you once did, but by practicing eating once you feel hungry and stopping once you feel full, you train your mind to be better in tune with these ques. Think of your hunger on a scale from 1-10, 1 being not hungry at all and a 10 being extremely full. Start eating around 3-4 and stop once you’re at a 6-7.
So, let’s make a pact right now to stop the cycle. Give intuitive eating a chance to change your life and forever put a stop to needless guilt so you can start loving your body and giving it what it needs!