This is a reprint of my newsletter, which I write ~monthly. When you sign up above, you get a free copy of my “10 Tips to Decrease Food Guilt and Shame…and Start Making Peace with Food.”
Let’s say you’ve finally decided to ditch dieting (for good reasons!), and you’re committed to practicing intuitive eating…but wherever you go, you’re still surrounded by constant diet-weight-fat talk. Maybe you see cookies in the break room at work, and while taking a moment to check in with yourself and your body to see if you really want one, a co-worker comments, “Those cookies are so fattening and sinful. I’m gonna try to be good today.” Or perhaps you’re out at dinner, and while scanning the menu to decide what you really want to order that will be satisfying, a family member starts gloating about how much weight he’s lost on his latest diet (“I’ve already lost X pounds. It’s not so bad. You just don’t eat X, X or X. I can loan you the book if you want to try it,” he says.)
Sound familiar? I know many of my clients find themselves in this uncomfortable situation. It can feel discouraging when you feel like the whole world is dieting and striving for some magical goal weight where all their dreams supposedly come true.
If you can relate, here are some important reminders and strategies to help you stay true to yourself in your journey to authentic health, and peace with your food, body and mind:
• Overwhelming research shows that dieting is an excellent predictor of weight GAIN, binge eating, and eating disorders. As author Geneen Roth says, “For every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge.”
• The diet honeymoon doesn’t last. People who claim to feel on top of the world because of their diet or weight loss are experiencing a “diet honeymoon.” You remember this feeling, right? It typically occurs for a temporary period of time when a person first starts dieting, and the weight comes off easily and effortlessly. Author Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD calls this the “seduction trap, which launches the futile pursuit of weight loss via dieting.” Bottom line: it doesn’t last and often leads to the side effect of rebound weight gain and a higher set point, as our bodies are biologically wired for survival.
• When someone raves about the latest and greatest diet, try reframing it as if they’re raving about a different religion. If you had a friend who newly converted to Scientology say it’s the best thing ever and learning about theitans and Xenu has rocked her world, would you say, “Sign me up!”? Probably not. Stay strong in your beliefs, and remember it takes courage to be counterculture – courage I know you have.
• Try this visualization exercise: Picture yourself protected by strong armor whenever someone makes a diet-weight-fat related comment that makes you feel vulnerable. Boing! That’s the sound of the comment bouncing off you, leaving you totally unscathed.
• Take a few minutes to read something that inspires you. Reading some words of wisdom from someone who gets it can help you feel more grounded in what you know to be true. Maybe this means skimming the “Reject the Diet Mentality” chapter in Intuitive Eating. Some other books to check out include Don’t Diet, Live It! Workbook by Andrea Wachter and Marsea Marcus, Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michelle May, and Nourishing Wisdom or The Slow Down Diet by Marc David.
• Connect. Check out the free online Intuitive Eating Community. It’s especially inspiring to read about other people’s turning points – including professionals – when they realized they were done with dieting and discovered Intuitive Eating. Or start your own book club, meet-up group or Greenlake walking group committed to providing a safe place to support every group member’s healthy non-diet journey.