Don’t keep falling for empty promises and alluring quick-fix diet messages. Remember, you and your life deserve so much more than that.
Dieting is hard. There are rules to follow, special foods to buy (plus lots of foods you can’t buy), apps to track it all with, coaches to check in with, support groups to attend, it just goes on and on.
That’s not easy. There’s a reason why diets entice you with the promise of 30 days or 3 months or some other predetermined timeline. You want to see that light at the end of the tunnel. It’s hard. But you know what’s even harder?
Letting all of that go.
To create a more sustainable, healthy approach to eating, it requires being more intuitive and mindful with food that is accompanied by a liberated feeling. It may sound nice in theory, but this can actually be harder than going on another diet. But let’s understand why that shouldn’t keep you from trying.
1. You will learn to trust yourself again.
Diets are easy in the sense that you don’t have to think too hard to follow them. You might get a meal plan, a calorie limit, a food list, workouts, whatever. So much of the decision making is done for you, which is part of its appeal. But you are the only one who lives in your body. You are the only one who knows what it wants, what it needs, what makes it feel its best. No diet or trainer or health guru or dietitian can determine that for you. Diet are essentially allowing you to outsource the decision making. You’re trading control for convenience, but where does that get you?
Cutting loose from that safety net is tough stuff. It can feel overwhelming to suddenly be faced with endless decisions. But regaining confidence and trust is what empowers you to heal your relationship with food and finally achieve the health you’ve been seeking. Using the framework of intuitive eating and self-care, along with the guidance of someone who can help you shift your mindset and get your bearings back, is invaluable when it comes to creating a lifestyle you can truly sustain forever.
2. You will start understanding how to set boundaries that work for you.
Intuitive eating encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health. So while you’re turning the focus on your physical health by healing your relationship with food, learning about gentle nutrition, and practicing self-care, you might also have to nurture your mind and spirit. Part of that involves setting boundaries. If you are unwilling or uninterested in discussing your weight, your body, or your health with someone you have to let them know. Our culture is accustomed to having someone’s body be a free space for comments or questioning. If this makes you uncomfortable or you just don’t want to go there, understand that you don’t owe anyone an explanation or justification for why.
Setting boundaries can be more difficult than sitting silent and letting comments or questions wash over you. But the empowerment you feel from standing up for yourself and letting it be known what you’re willing to tolerate can be a pretty powerful feeling. That empowered feeling can trickle out and help you make more decisions or set other boundaries to protect your health in all aspects: the physical, mental, and emotional.
3. You build a strong armor that deflects messages that once negatively affected you.
From the things you read to the things you hear to the things you wear or buy, it can sometimes feel like the entire world is conspiring against you and your body. They tell you that it’s wrong, or not worthy or needs to be improved. Everywhere you look, there will be something that reminds you that you can be better if only: if only your shrink your body, if only you eat these foods, if only you commit to this gym, if only.
Diets don’t sell health, they sell hope.
And they sell a culture or a way to belong. So start eliminating the messages that can take a toll on you take control of what you see and hear. Don’t buy magazines or diet books that promote dieting. Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. And remember to set those boundaries with friends or family members that habitually talk about their diets or food. You have the right to challenge the deeply rooted thoughts and beliefs about food and health. With practice, you’ll become more skilled at quickly identifying them, reframing them, and moving on without so much as a second thought.
Remember, finding freedom from diets is not a win-lose game, or about being perfect.
It’s about the process and learning to trust yourself and your body again. What would it be worth for you to move through this life without being obsessed with or controlled by food? What could you accomplish if your shame or anxiety about how your body didn’t hold you back? What would it mean for you to be able to walk into a room, see a birthday cake, and not feel instantly gripped by anxiety about whether or not to eat it and what you’ll have to do if you decide to take a slice? All of that doesn’t happen overnight, but trust in the process and yourself.
You will find a way, and never say “I’m on a diet” again.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: KAROLINA SZCZUR
Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD is a Kansas City-based Registered Dietitian helping individuals jumpstart their journey to wellness. By breaking the cycle of dieting, Cara focuses on creating sustainable lifestyle changes for people who are motivated to reclaim their health. Connect with Cara over at Street Smart Nutrition.