In today’s world, “diet mentality” is widespread and rampant.
We see diet mentality in the news, social media, exercise facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, and even sadly see diet mentality among friends, family members, and in some healthcare professionals. Sometimes the diet message is loud (Paleo, Whole 30, Keto, etc) but many times it’s “sneaky” and disguised as “healthy lifestyle changes” or even “intuitive eating for weight loss”.
Intuitive eating is not a weight loss diet!
So what is “diet mentality” and how is it harmful?
Diet mentality is a false belief that diets for weight loss create health and happiness. Diet mentality steals your joy by saying you should delay your dreams until you have lost weight. Diet mentality erodes body trust and replaces it with external rules. It disconnects you from your own body sensations, making you feel powerless and like you can not be trusted to make decisions about how to feed yourself. Diet mentality is the mean voice you hear over and over which categorizes food into good and bad or healthy and unhealthy. It is the voice that tells you ridiculous rules such as “no eating after 7pm”, “no carbs after lunch”, or “no dessert because you didn’t exercise”. Many people think this voice means they should have more control. Rather, this voice acts like a bully that keeps you from living your fullest life.
Society is shifting views and finally learning that diets don’t work. We know that dieting fails most of the time and dieting is a leading predictor of weight gain. But many people have trouble letting go of the diet mentality mindset, partly because they just don’t know what to think or do instead. It’s very hard to change behaviors and no one should feel ashamed if they need more support.
The very first step in intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality. It’s one of my favorite principles!
Here are 5 ideas to reject diet mentality:
- Do something TODAY that you’ve been wanting to do. Don’t save that thing for when you change your body shape/size.
- Think about your favorite foods and repeat over and over “there are no good or bad foods”. Make sure you eat at least one of those favorite meals or snacks this week.
- Don’t weigh yourself today, all week, all month, or even all year! The scale does not define health.
- Unfollow anyone that posts unrealistic, unhelpful “health” messages on social media. You do not need to get stuck in the comparison trap.
- Realize you are so much more than your weight or your body shape/size. List your values and what makes you special and what makes you YOU! Don’t be afraid to take up space in this world. You deserve happiness and health as a human being.
I’ve built my private practice Eat With Knowledge by helping people ditch dieting and find food peace with intuitive eating. If you’re ready to go on your own journey to intuitive eating, get started with a nutrition counseling appointment.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”