Are you thinking, what the heck is diet mentality?
Well it is a chronically restrictive way of thinking about food. It’s when we deeply analyze our food choices and feel angry or guilty when we eat foods we believe are bad.
For example, a diet mentality might be:
*constantly thinking about what we’ve eaten or about to eat;
*always counting and restricting calorie, carbohydrate and fat grams;
*eliminating particular food categories, like starches or fats;
*avoiding activities that involve food and eating;
*ignoring hunger signals by drinking extra amounts of water, tea, coffee or diet soda;
*feeling guilty when we eat something off our diet plan;
*over-exercising to compensate for perceived overeating or weight gain.
Many of the clients I work with have been chronic, life-long dieters. Even if they’re satisfied with their weight and not currently “on a diet”, they have difficulty giving up the diet mentality. Gee it makes sense, our culture has even named “skinny jeans’ after the diet mentality.
When we forbid ourselves from eating certain food, we create a painful and unsatisfying relationship with food. As we continue to deprive ourselves of these foods, we actually intensify our drive to eat them. Our forbidden foods become overvalued, and we develop obsessive thoughts and cravings for them.
Having a diet mentality usually leads to a cheater’s mentality. And that doesn’t serve us well, whether we’re trying to lose weight or trying to maintain weight loss.
If we have excess weight, and decide we want to change that, most of us want to do it as quickly as possible. Often the quickest way to feel some control is to go on a restrictive diet. But all that does is set us up for constantly thinking about eating. And it should because we’re hungry.
I get it. I’ve been there.
Did you know that despite the entrenchment of the diet mentality in our culture, research demonstrates that diets don’t work? Ninety-eight percent of all dieters regain their weight within five years and ninety-five percent within two years. And Harvard medical School studies have shown that constantly losing and gaining weight is more hazardous to health than remaining overweight.
I’m not going to get into my mindset song and dance because it won’t matter unless you are willing to give up the diet mentality.
So what are we supposed to do? Well, for most people, being overweight is not caused by how much they eat but by what they eat. The idea that people gain weight because they consume a high volume of food is a myth.
What makes most people overweight is not that they eat lots of food but because they eat processed foods, refined carbohydrates and fat, or mostly low-nutrient food.
The good news is eating large amounts of the right food is the key to success.
We can eat to satiation and lose weight.
But before I offer you some guidance on how to do just that, let me share some of the many reasons to ditch the diet mentality.
- It fails to encourage us to learn to trust the wisdom of our body. When we limit our intake and go hungry, our body becomes out of balance.
- Chronic dieting leads to nutritional deficiencies.
- Our body interprets chronic dieting as starvation and slows down the metabolism.
- Food restriction triggers intense food cravings and out-of-control rebound eating and when we go off the diet, our bodies retain more fat for the next famine.
To avoid feelings of deprivation and create a more peaceful relationship with food, we need to balance eating for pleasure with eating for health, and bring our bodies, minds and eating habits into harmony.
To help yourself develop a more peaceful relationship with food try these simple swaps for better health:
Crowd out low nutrient processed foods with high nutrient whole foods. That means eat real food. Shoot for 70% of your food every day to be a whole food. What is a whole food? A whole food is food that has had nothing added to it or taken from it. What is a processed food? A processed food is a food that has something added to it or taken from it.
Chew your food 20-30 times before swallowing and put your utensils down between each mouthful of food. Digestion of your food starts in your mouth. Let your saliva do it’s job of creating happy enzymes that will help your body assimilate all the nutrients you’re feeding it.
Eat mindfully.Try to stay mentally present whenever you eat. Sit down when you are eating. Be grateful for the food you are about to enjoy. Eat slowly and savor every bit.
As we practice the above steps, we need to be gentle with ourselves as we take this new enlightening journey. The above steps are a good start to on the road to releasing the diet mentality.
Here’s to ditching the diet mentality,
P.S. I would love to help you with your own difficulties ditching the diet mentality so you can lose weight naturally and keep it off. I have created a 1-1 coaching program that is based on making medically proven lifestyle adjustments that lead to permanent change. Are you ready for change? Click here and let’s set up a time to chat.