When did the fitness industry hijack dieting and turn what were once well-intentioned pursuits of health and well-being into a prison that many women feel they can never escape?
With nearly $60 BILLION in sales each year, many so-called “experts” in the diet industry have traded their love for people in exchange for a love for profit.
Instead of helping women learn to develop a healthier relationship with food through a healthy lifestyle, they promote fad diets that leave many women in worse condition–both physically and mentally–then when they started. In fact, studies show millions of women not only regain the weight the lost but also gain MORE weight after restrictive dieting. We definitely need a healthier relationship with food!
Women don’t know how to eat anymore.
They have so many thoughts, beliefs and rules floating around their head about what they SHOULD be eating, and SHOULD NOT be eating that just the simple task of eating a meal causes undue stress.
There’s no question that dieting causes harm to your behavior and mental health as well as to your social, relational and physical health.
Learning a better way to eat means focusing on healthy lifestyle behaviors that cultivate a healthier relationship with food.
It’s about so much more than the pursuit of weight loss! it’s about self-care and a healthy mind and body!
The Diet Mentality Erodes a Healthier Relationship with Food
We live in a dieting culture. So the first step towards a healthier relationship with food is recognizing (and getting rid of) the diet mentalities that cloud our thinking.
If you’re stuck in the dieting mentality, your diet rules dictate your eating decisions–telling you what to eat and not to eat–regardless of your own personal food preferences, energy needs and hunger. This leads to feelings of deprivation. Which, in turn, leaves you feeling stressed out and guilt-ridden.
If dieting has interfered with your life–both physically and psychologically, it’s time for a change.
The diet mentality, ingrained in us by messages we receive from our family and friends, from advertisements and media messages and from diet and exercise programs we may have tried, is a toxic way of viewing food.
These toxic views about how we should look, feel and behave have insidiously become a part of our life.
Without these guidelines, many of us feel like we would have no restrictions and would just let go and “go crazy.” We fear the loss of control, leading (we imagine) to uncontrollable weight gain.
But the truth is that living a healthy, happy and balanced life includes being able to trust yourself and your body around all foods and all situations.
Below you’ll find a list seven thoughts and behaviors that indicate an unhealthy diet mentality. As long as you cling to any of these misconceptions, you will not be able to develop a trusting relationship with yourself and to truly reinforce a healthier relationship with food.
As you read the following characteristics of dieting, make note of the ones you may still believe.
7 Signs You Need a Healthier Relationship with Food
- You restrict the amount of food you “allow” yourself to have.
- You feel obligated to eat what is placed in front of you – whether or not you like it and whether or not it is too much.
- Foods, in your head, get labeled as good or bad – legal or illegal.
- Your thoughts about having certain foods lead to negative self-thoughts and judgments.
- You restrict eating to certain times of day – whether you are hungry or not. (This means eating at traditional mealtimes when you are not hungry. It also means not allowing yourself to eat after a certain time of day despite feelings of hunger.)
- You engage in all-or-nothing thinking–setting strict goals and guidelines for yourself. If you waver from them or miss a step/day/meal, you feel like a failure. You tend to make harsh judgments about your lack of willpower and inability to follow a plan.
- Your weight is the central focus of your life. You base decisions about what you can have/do/be on how much weight you have lost or gained. Therefore, if you gain a bit, you feel deserving of punishment and will attempt to restrict yourself or isolate yourself. Additionally, if you lose weight, you feel more deserving of “treats” and feel more positive self-regard.
This list is not complete. Rather, it highlights some of the common signs that a diet mentality has steered you in the wrong direction.
If you fall into any (or many) of these thoughts and behaviors, it’s ok. You’re not alone. You CAN find freedom and a healthy relationship with food. Remember, every eating experience you have, whether perceived as negative or positive, is an opportunity to learn about your body.
CHALLENGE: Pick ONE of the characteristics of dieting that you believe. Work on this by thinking of one step you could take to let go of it. Share it with us here!
P.S. It’s time that we change unproductive behaviors and DITCH the DIET once and for all!
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