Dieting through restriction comes with a rigid structure that can often limit your enjoyment of day-to-day life. Find out how you can break free from the diet mold.
BY: KYLIE MITCHELL, MPH, RDN, LD
Living a restrictive diet-based life is exhausting. With all that effort going into how you structure your life around food, how is there time and energy for life itself?
It’s time to stop trying to make your eating look a certain way and having expectations that healthy eating should be restricted to a subset of rules. Here are 3 ways to start living a non-diet life:
1. EAT LIKE IT’S THE WEEKEND ON A MONDAY.
Forcing yourself to eat “clean” during the week and allowing yourself to eat in a more relaxed way on the weekend is the perfect way to make yourself feel restricted, followed by guilt and obsession around food. Stop putting yourself on a diet every Monday. If you usually prep every morsel of food for Monday, switch it up by eating every meal out on Monday.
2. ASK YOURSELF HOW HUNGRY OR FULL YOU ARE.
Instead of tracking your calorie intake on an app, become aware of your natural hunger and fullness cues. One way to do this is to have a general scale in mind that ranges from 1 to 10, where:
- 1 indicates dizzy-like hunger
- 5 indicates experiencing fullness
- 10 indicates binge-worthy fullness
Don’t be hyper-obsessive about tracking your hunger and fullness. However, do be hyper-aware and tune into your body to ask yourself where on the scale you may be at. Extreme hunger leads to extreme eating, so a good idea is to start eating when you feel the initial signs of hunger (~4) and stop when you are feeling satisfied (~6, which will keep you full for 3 hours).
3. TUNE INTO WHAT FEELS GOOD FOR YOUR BODY AND MIND.
Perhaps you feel like donuts for breakfast this weekend, but you know that it doesn’t always make you feel great afterwards. But sometimes, the experience of enjoying donuts for breakfast with someone you love may be more important than how the donuts make you feel. With that said, you are allowed to decide what feels good in your body. You are allowed to value relationships and experiences that you may have when you’re having that donut. What you are not allowed to do is to let a person you follow on Instagram determine how you should eat or what feels best in your body.
Your body will seek out nourishing foods if you stop restricting it – some days, nourishing means apples, and other days, it means apple pie. If you are restricting yourself around food or have a belief that certain foods are “good” or “bad”, then overeating will continue to be a natural reaction of the physical or mental deprivation you are putting yourself through.
Step out of the diet mindset, and start living again.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: THOMAS KELLEY
Kylie Mitchell, MPH, RDN, LD is a Houston-based Registered Dietitian helping individuals create a healthier relationship with food without restrictions. By promoting positive body image, Kylie is driven to stop disordered eating and help people fall back in love with a healthy relationship with food and their body. Read more from Kylie at immaEATthat.