Breaking free from the diet mindset is the third step to finding food freedom. It’s about challenging the diet mindset and creating powerful mindset shifts so that you can restore trust in your body.
The diet mindset is that sneaky voice in your head that tries to decide your food and exercise choices for you without taking your internal body cues like hunger, fullness and satisfaction into account. The diet mentality is basically the “shoulds” and “should nots” of eating and exercise. The diet mindset destroys the trust in your body because the “rules” you create micromanage your food and exercise choices, ignoring how you feel.
The diet mindset isn’t just about being on a “diet”. You can be caught up in the culture of dieting or dieting thoughts and consequently dieting behaviors even if you aren’t officially on a “diet”.
Some examples of the diet mentality:
- Counting calories, carbs, fat, macros, etc.
- Eating only “clean” or “safe” foods
- Avoiding certain foods or food groups because they are “bad”
- Eating only at certain times of the day
- Punishing yourself for eating “bad” foods by exercising or restricting
- “Controlling” your portions
- Masking your hunger with liquids or cigarettes
- Comparing what you eat to what others eat
- Judging what you deserve to eat based on what you ate yesterday or how badly you feel about your body
- Eating gluten free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, keto, etc with the purpose of losing weight or to have perfect health
- Exerting “willpower” over your eating habits (willpower is just an attempt to counter your natural biological desires and replace them with prescriptive, rigid rules)
- Detoxing, fasting or cleanses
Why engaging in diets or the diet mindset is the worst thing you can do for your health and well-being:
Research has shown that 95% of diets fail and of those 5% who “succeed”, many of them are actually engaging in disordered eating behaviors
Our bodies literally can’t tell the difference between dieting and actual starvation. Our metabolism slows to conserve energy and our bodies can even start cannibalizing their own muscle to burn as fuel. Hormones fluctuate and lead to you feeling preoccupied with food because of hunger.
- Dieting decreases metabolism
- Dieting increases binges and cravings
- Dieting typically leads to weight cycling which increases inflammation and mortality rate and the risk of bone fractures
- Dieting increases the risk for heart disease
- Dieting increases risk for eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors
- Dieting leads to stress and stress is linked to lower immunity, depression, anxiety, heart disease, inflammation, mortality rate and much more
- Dieting crushes self-confidence and trust
How to reject the diet mindset:
Recognize the ways in which the diet mentality shows up for you and affects your life:
- How much time do you spend thinking about food and your body?
- How much money do you or have you spent trying to change your body?
- How has the diet mindset affected your relationships, social life, mood and happiness?
Take back your autonomy:
YOU are the ONLY person who knows what is best for you. Stop listening to outside sources to tell you what, when and how much to eat or exercise.
Get rid of your dieting “tools”:
Get rid of meal plans, magazines, diet books, diet foods, your scale and anything else you associate with the diet mentality or “controlling” your food and body. These “tools” only serve one purpose of keeping your preoccupied with food and your body (oh and it also makes the diet industry TONS of money).
Shift your mindset:
Make a list of all of the ways the diet mentality shows up for you. Now, re-frame each of those thoughts from a non-diet mindset. For example, instead of thinking “Do I deserve to eat? Probably not; I ate so “bad” yesterday” you could ask yourself “Am I hungry?”.
Click here to download my 8 steps to food freedom cheatsheet: a quick summary you can refer back to whenever you need a little refresher with questions to ask yourself for each step!
In what ways does the diet mindset show up for you? Let’s talk below in the comments!
Continue reading with the next step to food freedom: food biology & emotionality.