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Break Free from Diet Culture

The first principle in Intuitive Eating is to Reject the Diet Mentality. Diets don't work and won't ever work. So in order to be in tune with your body you need to stop dieting for good. Here are four steps to help you reject the diet mentality:


First off, recognize the damages from dieting. There are so many negative effects of dieting but we hardly ever hear about them!


Dieting:

  • decreases your metabolism, causes your body to retain more fat, and most consistently will lead to weight GAIN

  • increases binges and cravings

  • is associated with a greater incidence of heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension, insulin sensitivity, and mortality

  • decreases eating satisfaction

  • can lead to eating disorders

  • causes stress, lowers self-esteem, triggers social anxiety, erodes confidence and self-trust, and leaves you feeling like a failure


Once we recognize and understand the damages dieting causes our bodies, it is easier to start saying “diets suck”. It’s easier to roll your eyes when you are standing in the check-out line at the grocery and you are bombarded by weight loss magazines. Diets are the worst!


Next, be aware of diet-mentality thinking. It is important to identify where diet culture is sneaking into your own life. For example, eating isn't about willpower, and you don't need to control your eating or follow specific food rules. If you find yourself thinking about food in these terms you need to take a step back and label those thoughts as diet culture.


The reason you can say goodbye to diet-mentality thinking is because YOU are the expert on YOU and no diet can tell you what your body needs. As you start on this journey, remember that you can't fail at intuitive eating. You will learn more about yourself and your body, but there are no set rules.


Third, get rid of the dieter's tools. You don't need external forces telling you how to eat and how to feel. Get rid of the scale. Get rid of your diet meal plans. Stop counting macros. Get rid of the scale. Stop measuring your food and counting calories. Oh did I mention to get rid of the scale?


Finally, be compassionate to yourself! We are all encompassed by diet culture and it's hard to break free! It can take time to reject the dieting mindset. Diets are sneaky and sometimes you may be slipping back into old (or new) dieting habits. Have compassion and remind yourself that this is a process. It will take time and a lot of hard work to completely reject the diet mentality, but it will be so freeing.


Here are some ideas of how to combat diet culture:


  • Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself.

  • Find social media that supports health at every size and intuitive eating.

  • Set boundaries with friends and family. Let them know that you don’t want to talk about weight or diets. Redirect conversations or leave conversations so you don’t have to be around diet talk.

  • Let the diet talk roll off. You don’t need to internalize everything you see and hear. Roll your eyes and let it bounce off.

  • Surround yourself with body positive books, podcasts, blogs, etc.


I've said it before, and I'll say it again (probably a million times): diets don't work and they won't ever work. The research is there and our stories support the research. There isn't a magic diet (and there never will be) that will make you look perfect and help you live forever. So stop with the dieting and reject diet culture.


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