This is the first in a series of guest posts from some of my “blogger friends” that’ll you’ll be seeing on my blog this summer! This first one is by Heather K. Jones, a registered dietitian and co-author of the Skinnytaste cookbook series.
Now, we all know that diets don’t work, right? Even so, with a 68-billion-dollar weight loss industry constantly enticing us to jump on the diet-and-deprivation bandwagon, it’s hard to just say no. I get it.
However, here’s the thing: you cannot shame and deprive your way to a happy and healthy life. Even if you lose some weight on a restrictive diet, it doesn’t stick. Moreover, it certainly doesn’t make you feel fulfilled or free.
Going on a diet is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm. They’re ineffective and exasperating at best, emotionally damaging, and physically harmful at worst.
Rather than putting yourself on another restrictive diet (and then beating yourself up when it inevitably doesn’t work), starving yourself, or pretending like you don’t care anymore, try something radical…and something much, much better. Try treating yourself and your body the same way you would treat someone you love—with respect, compassion, and loving care.
Most people don’t expect their journey to health and lasting weight loss to be filled with joy and ease. Most expect struggle, sacrifice, and suffering, so that’s exactly what they get. However, the struggle does not move you forward in positive ways—it keeps you stuck and miserable.
Here are my top 4 reasons to ditch dieting and what to do instead…
- Diets don’t address the reasons why you struggle
Maybe you’re afraid of being “seen,” and the extra weight is your excuse to stay in your comfort zone. (FYI: Real change happens outside your comfort zone). Or, perhaps you turn to food to avoid feeling negative or strong emotions. Alternatively, you might be really sensitive and use the excess weight as a sort of armor to make you feel safe. Or, maybe your weight issues are related to childhood abuse, abandonment, or other painful losses you experienced growing up, and for you, food equals comfort and weight equals protection.
Diets don’t help you understand WHY you overeat in the first place, so they don’t get to the root of the issue. So without this vital information, you’re going to have a hard time.
Once you understand your fears, however, you can effectively work your way through them. Moreover, this will give you the psychological green light you need to lose the weight, for good. That’s why identifying and releasing your weight loss fears is a critical part of my FREE Master the Weight Loss Mindset Challenge (click HERE to sign up for the free challenge).
- Diets encourage you to ignore your body’s wisdom
Feeding yourself according to external cues—the clock, the amount of food on your plate, calories, or a rigid dieting plan—goes against your body’s natural instincts and inherent wisdom. Also, if you skip meals or underfeed yourself, you trigger your primal drive to overeat.
Your perfectly designed body instinctively knows exactly what it needs to thrive and naturally reach its ideal weight—you just have to listen to it.
Tuning in to what your body needs (instead of ignoring your hunger) builds trust, and learning how to get your emotional needs met (without eating) transforms your relationship with food. This is the opposite of what diets do, and this leads to long-lasting change and weight loss.
So if you think your body is broken, or your metabolism is ruined (common complaints from my clients), know this: you can’t permanently damage your metabolism. Your (incredible!) body will bounce back so much faster than you think. Instead of fighting, underfeeding, and abusing your body, be amazed by it. It’s working hard to keep you alive, and it deserves your appreciation and respect.
- Diets don’t program your mind for success
We all have a set of memorized behaviors, emotional reactions, beliefs, and attitudes that run behind the scenes. This subconscious program determines how we live and make decisions on a moment-to-moment basis. So when you have beliefs and thoughts that don’t support your health goals, you end up constantly sabotaging yourself.
Plus, if you only consider yourself “worthy” or “good enough” when you eat less, weigh less, or stick to an unattainable set of dieting rules, you set yourself up for a never-ending cycle of self-hate and frustration.
Trying to lose weight without also changing your mind is a BIG weight loss mistake. On the other hand, if you shift your mindset from fear and guilt to acceptance and forgiveness while you implement healthy changes, you’ll fast track your success.
So what’s the best way to start shifting your mindset? Easy. Stop criticizing yourself. Accept and love yourself exactly as you are. This is the first step to making any change. You’re not giving up. You’re empowering yourself to feel good now so that you can take positive actions towards your goals with confidence. (Find out more about shifting your mindset HERE.)
- Diets keep you locked in food prison
Food is a seriously important part of self-care. One of the best ways to love yourself is to provide your body with nutrient-rich foods that make you feel and look your best.
Food is also the universal connector—we all have to eat! We all celebrate with food, socialize with food, and fuel ourselves with food. Food is a life-giving necessity, and eating should be fun and enjoyable.
Diets, however, make you feel like food is the enemy. Food restriction also triggers binge eating, increases anxiety, and slows your metabolism. Diets rob you of the pleasure of eating and keep you locked in a self-imposed food prison. However, you can choose food freedom instead. It’s all up to you.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned working as a dietitian for the last 20 years (and overcoming my own struggles!), it’s that you cannot solve your food and body issues with the same hateful mindset that got you here. It just doesn’t work.
And, I’m excited to share with you my FREE Master the Weight Loss Mindset Challenge, where I’ll show you a kinder, saner, and gentler way to create lasting weight loss and wellness in your life.
You’ll receive online training videos, downloadable action sheets, and access to the Feel Better Eat Better Support Group, a private Facebook community.
Go HERE to sign up for the free challenge—I’d love to see you there!