The dieting mentality is a way of thinking that has become customary to us because of the way we grew up, what we see and hear from our family and friends, and what the media is constantly publishing. This diet mentality is responsible for the way we see ourselves, how we feel about ourselves and our bodies, and is the foundation of how we behave in our daily life.
If you have been constantly dieting for a while, maybe you haven’t realized that your whole life revolves around what you can and can’t eat, what your body looks like and what you want to change and the number on the scale. All our emotions are based on these ideas, therefore the way you behave is tied to this mentality that you have been building and that has increasingly limited you and prevented you from living freely and happily.
It is based on this diet mentality that you decide what foods you eat, regardless of whether you are really hungry or not. You don’t realize that maybe it is a craving, or maybe you are just thirsty. The priority in a diet mentality is the weight and the consequences for eating what you eat, this tends to keep you away from a more positive mindset based on eating healthy food and recognizing how you feel with certain foods.
Even when you are not on a diet or are following certain rules, you still have ideas that limit you, or that tell you something is wrong and you are gaining weight. Ideas that generate guilt and limitation for what you eat. Therefore, you are always thinking about how I can compensate for what I just ate, with exercise or restricting the next meal.
It is common that when you have spent so much time being on a diet, that you no longer have the ability to recognize your body cues in terms of hunger and satiety. So all you eat and the quantity of food is based on a diet or on rules that you have already adopted to lose weight.
This diet mentality translates into this internal dialogue that limits you and that leads you to choose foods or act in a certain way. Some of these ideas are:
- I can not eat this at breakfast, this is not healthy or I will not lose weight this way
- It’s already 8 o’clock at night, I should not eat anything else
- I’m going to eat _____ for lunch or dinner because I just ate carbs
- I only eat carbs before working out, or before a certain time of the day
- Eat more during breakfast, less during lunch and dinner
- I skip meals to balance what I just ate
Have you thought any of these statements? Is it common for you? Maybe you are so used to this way of thinking that you no longer see what’s wrong with it. Well, the main goal of getting rid of the diet mentality is that you start to make peace with food and your body, that you start to really listen to your body cues and develop a lifestyle based on mindful and intuitive eating. This means that instead of focusing on things like the number on your scale or making food choices based on what is right or wrong, you start to listen to your body and nourish it properly.
It’s important that you realize that diets don’t help you, instead, they take you further away from your true goal. So for example, answer the following question truthfully: Have you really had success with the last diet you did and were able to maintain it? Maybe you have reached your weight goal, but have you really felt healthy and happy with your body, or are you in a constant struggle with food choices, the way you look at your body and feel very constrained about choices. Being on a diet frequently, we are only generating more ideas of limitation, dissatisfaction with our body and rejection of food. If you do not believe me, take a look at what the diets generate (all based on studies and research).
Mindful and Intuitive Eating Mentality
So, maybe you are wondering what should be the best way to support a healthy lifestyle without diets and restrictions. I have found that the best way to feel good about yourself and about your body is to develop a more mindful mentality following intuitive eating principles.
Intuitive eating focuses on how you feel and finding the pleasure of eating, listening to your body and stop thinking that food is either good or bad.
Intuitive Eating Mentality
- Am I really hungry?
- If I don’t eat this will I feel deprived?
- Will this nourish me?
- Is it good, will I enjoy it?
- Food is just food
- Will it be satisfying?
- I trust myself
- I recognize my inner body cues
4 ways to get rid of the diet mentality
According to the authors of Intuitive Eating, to eliminate the diet mentality it is necessary to start making small steps to achieve it. Only then can you begin to change your mentality. Remember that the diet mentality is something that you have thought about for a long time and it is based on this mentality that you make your daily food choices.
1. Recognize the damage
There is already enough information based on scientific research that proves that dieting causes psychological, physical and emotional damage. If you want to read more about this, I recommend you read my post about the effect that diets have.
The first thing that is essential for you to recognize is that being on a diet causes you more harm than you think and moves you further and further away from your real objective, which is to feel good about yourself and your body.
Some of the things that happen in your body when you go on a diet are:
- Dieting constantly teaches your body to retain more fat when you start eating normally.
- The speed at which you lose weight is decreasing more and more
- Your metabolism is getting slower
- Your cravings and binge eating increases
- The risk of premature death and heart disease increases.
- Being on a diet frequently is linked to eating disorders
- It causes stress
- It affects your self-esteem and self-confidence
Step 2. Be more conscious of the way you think about food and your emotions
Sometimes, although we are not aware of it, the diet mentality comes up with very small things and concepts that we associate with being successful in losing weight and putting on a diet. Some of these concepts refer to having willpower, being obedient and failure.
We usually associate having willpower with the fact of not being able to stay on a diet for a specific period of time, but the reality is that willpower has nothing to do with your success. Something that is very important to clarify, is that when you are on a diet the fact of wanting the forbidden things, even if you do not like them normally is a proven as a psychological and emotional effect. It’s part of nature, so it’s not that you do not have will power, it’s rather that you’re going against the nature of your body, and that diets have already had a biological effect on you.
Being obedient refers to what you “should do” and what “you should not do”, all those ideas based on your past diets, what you have been told is better to lose weight and what you have been taking up as part of your diet mentality to protect yourself from gaining weight. So from now on, be more aware of the phrases and ideas you have about what you should do, and try to change to a more positive mindset following intuitive eating principles and mostly following what your body is telling you. So, your decisions need only be based on what you feel and how that food makes you feel. You are responsible for when, what and, how much you eat.
Forget the failure related to your weight.
With the diet mentality, we tend to link the fact of not being able to lose weight with what we can’t do and think that we are a failure because of that. So basically, if you are able to lose weight you feel successful, but if not, then you feel like a failure.
By creating an intuitive mentality you will see that you cannot fail, because everything is about listening to your body, analyzing how you feel before, during and after eating, and this simply translates into knowing yourself better and connecting with your body.
Step 3. Get rid of all the tools that support your diet mentality
Do you realize that in your daily life and especially when you are on a diet you use things that help you achieve that weight goal? For example, your 1,800 calories meal plan, your diet guide, the weight scale, the magazines that talk about weight, the articles that you follow on Facebook or Instagram that make you maintain that diet mentality.
In order for you to start an intuitive mentality, you need to get rid of all the tools that keep you in this diet mode. And this includes the weight scale. Yes, that little machine that tells you if you were successful or not, that makes you feel happy or depressed, that makes you afraid or stressed. Is better to throw it away for once and for all.
In fact, I don’t know if it happens to you, but sometimes when I was on a diet if one day I weighed myself and if I didn’t lose enough weight or I gained just a little bit (because of hormones or whatever), it made me angry, sad, and felt like a failure. As a result, I threw it all away and start binging. I was so dependant on the scale to have a good day and feel good about myself, that when I got rid of it I was really happy. The scale was far from helping me, on the contrary, I was afraid of it, and my mood changed instantly after using it.
Realize that weight is something that fluctuates day by day and even in different hours, you can weigh differently. One thing we forget is that when you start working out you tend to develop more muscle, and the muscle weighs more than fat, so even when you’re losing fat, the scale may not move because your muscles are growing. Even though we know it, when we are shown the same number over and over again it tends to discourage us and be obsessed about weight.
In addition, in the case of women, a weight may vary due to menstrual cycles, and the amount of water your body can retain in this period. There may be hormonal changes, fluid retention, etcetera. And still, we think that the scale is what will tell us how much we achieve.
Don’t you think it’s time to throw the scale away and forget about it?
Throw your scale away, or hide it. Stop buying diet magazines or following people who link success with being a size zero.
Step 4. Be more compassionate with yourself
When we are focused on how much we want to change our body to be happy or to finally feel good, the fact is that most probably we won’t achieve it, because we are constantly thinking bad about ourselves and treating our body poorly.
We tend to think that there’s something wrong with us, instead of thinking that is the method that we are using that is the wrong one. We think we are a failure or that we don’t have will power or that we just can’t make it happen. And not only that, but we start to really treat our bodies badly like, thinking that you do not deserve to eat or you do not deserve to be happy because you do not have the perfect body, or the perfect size or the ideal weight.
Do you realize that treat yourself badly based on something external and that this is the result of a wrong method? You are not the number on the scale, nor the size you use. Do not wait to be happy until you have the perfect body, because that moment will not come if you keep having this diet mentality. Believe me, even when you reach the weight, you will still feel bad and you will be afraid to do something that will make you gain the weight back, and therefore you will not be happy either.
Instead, begin to be compassionate with yourself. Begin to love yourself absolutely and completely. As I said before, in intuitive eating there are no mistakes, so now you do not have to be so hard on yourself. If you are overweight, you will see that being more compassionate and focusing on what you feel will help you develop a better relationship with you, with your body and with food. Making you feel good every moment of the day, every day.
What did you think about this diet mentality? Do you think you have a diet mentality? And if you do, do you think you can change it?
You can start your Intuitive Eating Journey following this Guide to a healthier lifestyle
I invite you to read the book of the creators of intuitive food, it really is essential if you want to change your whole lifestyle.