Rejecting the Diet Mentality

What is “diet mentality?”

To me, the diet mentality is making choices from a place of hope that that choice will lead to weight loss or a change in your body to fit an ideal. The diet mentality can affect your food choices, and it can affect things like the amount of physical activity you do, or the way you live your life socially.

You may be wondering why this is bad?

Diets don’t work!!!!!!

95-98% of dieters regain all of the lost weight, and 75% of those people gain back even more than they lost in the first place. Dieting can lead to preoccupation with food, increased negative relationship with food and slowed metabolism. Just like if you tell a child they can’t play with a toy that toy is all they want to play with, if you tell yourself you can’t eat a food that food is all you think about. Even just the thought of a diet can lead to increased desire for foods that will be restricted on said diet. This has even led my clients to overeating before starting a diet because of the future withdrawal that they know is coming. Dieting can also lead to increased fat storage, change in body shape, and risk of premature death. When you stop dieting you are at risk of beginning to over eat or binge eat due to the biological drive to restore your body to its natural set point. With each attempt at weight loss, self-esteem can erode due to the negative cultural belief that if you just try hard enough you should be able to lose the weight. Dieting can also lead to eating disorders.

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Dieting and temporary weight loss doesn’t work to “fix” low self-esteem.

Self-esteem and psychological well-being are not actually addressed when losing weight; therefore, once weight is lost (and regained) improvements in these areas don’t actually take place as hoped. Sort of like the saying “wherever you go there your are” – your problems are still there no matter your body’s size.   

Maybe you have already acknowledged the evidence that diet’s don’t work, but you may still be living in the “diet mentality.”

You can still have the diet mentality even if you aren’t on a specific diet. Diet mentality includes things like counting calories, macros, or portions, eating only safe or “clean” foods, labeling foods as “good or bad” and then trying to restrict or exercising more after eating “bad” foods, rigidity or rules around eating like time of day, location, and how food is eaten, using diet foods, placating hunger with low calorie or non-caloric foods and beverages, or following food trends like gluten free, dairy free or vegan for the goal of weight loss.

The first step to be able to eat intuitively is to “Reject the diet mentality.”

Through my work with clients, I have come to believe that this is one of the hardest principles to embrace. Our culture is obsessed with dieting; therefore, asking someone who is worried about the shape of his or her body to give up dieting can be a scary, unthinkable action.

To reject the diet mentality you have to shift your mind by understanding the damage that diets cause both physically and psychologically. It is imperative to understand that dieting is not about will power and failure – you are not bad for not being able to stick to a diet, in fact that is the amazing power of your body over-riding restriction to keep you alive. We need food for survival and not being able to stick to a diet is our body’s way of preservation! Getting rid of your diet mentality tools like the scale, diet books/recipes, apps used to count/track, measuring utensils or food scales if used obsessively, and things like clothes from previous weights that you use to “check your body’s size” are action steps you can take to actively reject the diet mentality.

Reminder that as long as the weight loss industry continues to be a 60 + billion dollar industry new diets and lifestyles will continue to pop up with hopes of trapping vulnerable individuals into paying money for that hope that “this diet will be the one that works” Guard yourself with this knowledge to reject the diet mentality when it sneaks up in different ways.

I feel it is important to validate that letting go of dieting can be extremely difficult because dieting may be the go to coping skill for challenging life stressors. If you feel this way try to be compassionate toward yourself. There will be more info in a future post about the principle of coping with emotions without using food.

And if you are feeling like many of my clients, hoping that you can just go on one last diet before starting intuitive eating, remember the science above about why diet’s don’t work, this is why the diet mentality needs to be rejected prior to fully being able to intuitively eat. 

If you want help rejecting the diet mentality - Schedule an appointment today!