You Can Ditch the Diet Mentality

One of the things that keeps coming up over and over during this time of world crisis is that we are being called to look at our health in a new light. 

Things that may have mattered to us last month, now feel less important and instead, caring for ourselves and our long term health has become a priority. 

But that doesn’t mean that your struggles with knowing what to eat have ended.

In fact, it can feel even more confusing now than ever – especially when you’re now working out of your house (maybe even two feet away from the refrigerator) and snack breaks become all day grazing-breaks. 

Or when you venture out to the food store armed with your food list, you’re struggling to find ingredients that you may have taken for granted before.

Your everyday strategies for managing your food intake have gone out the window and it can be a bit disorienting. 

It’s no surprise then that the internet is taking advantage and is offering the best stay-at-home diet solutions and flooding your inbox with some really bad advice. It can make your existing confusion spiral out of control. 

So, one of the things I wanted you to consider is how can you use this time to truly ditch the diet mentality once for all? How can you go from feeling like you’re a slave to food do’s and don’ts to living an empowered life with food serving as fuel and nourishment.

Are You Struggling with A Diet Mentality?

To start with, some of us may not even be aware that we struggle with a diet mentality. For us, dieting or restriction of some kind has been a way of life since we were kids. You may not even give it a second thought – but the truth is that it’s likely taking up too much of your life and isn’t leading to sustainable long-term practices.

Here are a few clues to determine whether you have adopted a diet mentality:.

  • You label foods good and bad (has pasta gone from being ok to being downright bad?)
  • You have a list of foods that are “banned”? (no cheese when you’re not lactose intolerant)
  • You exercise to compensate for food. (I have to run on the treadmill for an hour because I ate a burger last night). 
  • You track calories. (Starbucks latte is 190 calories, the apple was 90 calories .)
  • You think about what you’re going to eat hours ahead of time and you read menus before you get to a restaurant so you know the lowest calorie item on the menu (I’ll have the garden salad with the dressing on the side).

If you nodded along with even one of these, chances are that you have a diet mentality. If you tend to restrict what you eat, or feel that you need to control your intake in some ways . . .then it may be time to change your relationship with food.

Let’s Be Honest: Diet’s Aren’t Sustainable

If diet’s were sustainable then we’d all be as fit and as thin as we wanted and the multi-billion dollar food marketing industry would be out of business.

Yet, over and over we go to the diet well, hoping that this time we’ll be able to drink from the fountain of thin and all our food struggles will disappear. We even may know in our minds nothing will change – but we hope and we figure that a quick fix will help us out in the short term because we just haven’t had the time, courage or commitment to make the changes we need. 

But now that we’ve faced a health crisis and the world has come to a stop . . .maybe it’s just time to reexamine what our relationship with food looks like.

Now that we are all home,  it is an opportunity to look at the way we’ve been eating and living, and ditch the quick fix mentality that hasn’t really supported who we want to be.

But what does that really mean? How do you successfully adopt a healthier way of eating and sustain it long term?

The first thing you’ll want to remember is that ditching the diet mentality doesn’t mean eating everything in sight. 

It means that you break up with restrictive eating, diet fads, staying on repetitive diets, caving to social pressures about what weight you should be – and instead it’s about adopting a healthier relationship with food – one that focuses on nourishment, feeling good and healing your body.

Ditching the diet mentality means bringing you back the pleasure and joy of eating that you might not have experienced since you were a kid.

As the world pandemic first hit, it’s only normal that you might have felt like you had gone on a bit of a holiday – after all there was no place to go, nothing special to wear and the stress continued to pile on with every new piece of information on the news. 

But now that we’ve been living with the new normal for some time, the holiday has ended and we’re all simply living our daily lives with a few adjustments. Maybe you’re like my friend Jessica, who reached out to me via text realizing that her body was in pain because all she had been doing was eating loads of sugar and drinking wine for two weeks.

Her body was screaming out for a break and instead of telling Jessica to try dieting, I recommended she go back to her plan: healthy eating designed to reduce inflammation. She also added back in some routines and structures that she normally had in place, with a few adjustments for her inability to go to the gym!

It didn’t take her more than 24 hours to actually recognize the difference in how certain foods were impacting her body and how important eating healthy really was to her.

Now . . . maybe you’re not yet feeling some of the impact of your diet mentality, but you’re tired of feeling like you’re always controlled by food and food choices. What can you do to help you get off the hamster wheel?

Disentangling Yourself From Diet Mentality.

The first thing I always recommend is disentangling yourself from any weight loss or body shaming messages. This might take a little effort and determination on your part, but if you follow any social media that impacts you negatively, it might be time to disconnect.

Instead follow people who promote body positivity! 

This is also a time to focus on mindful eating (grab your mindful eating free handout). Instead of counting calories or worrying about the kinds of foods you’re eating, perhaps think about how foods taste and make you feel. Focus on having plates filled with bright colors so you can explore the sensations and what they light up inside you. 

Simply recognizing how foods make you feel can be a giant step in shifting your relationship with food overall.

Another thing I recommend is giving up snacking. Instead of eating on the run, grabbing handfuls of chips or other smaller items, I always recommend sitting down and enjoying your meals and giving up snacks. Most of the time we think we’re hungry, but in truth we’re either thirsty or looking to satisfy some emotion (but note, if you do snack, please don’t feel guilty about it – that won’t help).

Lastly, I also recommend giving up weighing yourself. If you struggle with body positivity that ultimately leads to dieting, perhaps take some time off from the scale. Whether you choose to stay off the scale all week, this month or even the rest of the year, remember . . . the scale doesn’t define health.

And, if you’re looking to adopt a healthy meal plan, please check out the meal plans we offer to help you get started. These are no-guess, low-cost options that will show you exactly what you need to eat and how so you can finally ditch diet mentality and adopt a lifestyle of healthy eating!

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out and ask me anything!

In good health, 

Meryl

 

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