“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change!” Call it what you will. It seems lately that everyone is ditching diets (or anything that resembles one) in favor of food freedom. This post will explain what exactly a diet is and why so many women are aspiring to become ex-dieters instead.
what is a diet?
A diet is any prescription for eating that manages or prevents disease.
Following a diet can be health enhancing. By following a diet, folks with peanut allergies avoid anaphylaxis and those with lactose intolerance avoid uncomfortable trips to the bathroom. No one is knocking the use of diets to prevent disease and symptoms. As a Registered Dietitian, I’ve delivered this form of therapy many times, and I know how diets can drastically improve quality of life.
I also know the ways diets can be detrimental to health. This usually occurs when clients use diets to manipulate or control their weight. Having an elevated BMI – in and of itself – is not a disease. Though culturally weight loss is widely applauded and promoted; dieting for weight loss is not without harmful side effects like bone loss, permanent changes in metabolism, eating disorder risk, and negative shifts in mental and social health.
For the purpose of this post, I am referring to a diet as anything you do to alter your weight or size. In a previous post I shared the biology behind why diets don’t work. Today, I want to write about some of the personal reasons people are ditching diets. Which one of these most resonates with you?
reason #1: you’ve now wasted half your life dieting
When was your first diet? I just got off a coaching call and a client who told me she remembers initiating dieting behaviors as early as 5 years old when a family member called her “chubby”. Now in her mid-thirties, she feels exhausted by 30 years of fighting with food guilt and diet worries. Using my No Guilt Framework, she finally feels relief finding a way to approach food without dieting.
Her story makes total sense to me. Girls who diet frequently are 12 times more likely to binge as girls who don’t diet. This means that girls in bigger bodies, often encouraged and applauded for dieting behaviors, are at especially high risk for developing disordered eating behaviors in their lifetime. My client is now working with me to help normalize these behaviors.
The restrict-binge cycle is often a hidden aspect of the “weight loss journey” women in bigger bodies silently hold. As more of these stories come to light, it opens space for women in bigger bodies to stop choosing harming mental and physical health in pursuit of a smaller body.
reason #2: you’ve personally seen that diets don’t work
How many diets have you been on? Have any of them worked sustainably? If you just answered “a lot and no” – you aren’t alone. Studies show that 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years. There are many reasons diets don’t work from a biological perspective.
But I don’t need to convince you. If you have evidence that rigid rules and restrictions don’t work for you on a personal level, that is enough information. it’s time to take the memo and find another way of eating where you can eat foods that nourish you and make your body feel good.
reason #3: you want to be a role model for your kids
Many of my clients want to be rid of food guilt so they can become better role models around food. They desperately want to ensure their kids don’t struggle with food like they did. I help them become the role models they never had growing up.
Since most of us grew up with mothers and grandmothers deeply stuck in diet culture, finding inspiration and skills to break our dieting cycles can be challenging. My clients have found that social media, including our private No More Guilt Facebook community for ex-dieters to be a helpful space to about raising intuitive eaters as well as stay accountable to becoming intuitive eaters themselves.
reason #4: you’re tired of obsessing over food and your body
How often do you think about food? My clients tell me they think about what they ate, what they should have eaten, what they shouldn’t have eaten, what they will eat later, what they won’t eat later… you get the point. It’s all day long and it is constant.
They want the headspace to be able to focus on what is important to them in life. And as their intuitive eating coach, I know that by letting go of food obsession, something amazing will happen: they will be in a better place to notice and respond to their internal hunger, fullness, and emotional cues. This is what stops chronic binge-restrict cycles.
The success of intuitive eating relies on your ability to listen to your body. When we work together, I show clients how to reframe negative, obsessive food thoughts so they can surprise themselves by saying things like: “I forgot I had ice cream in the freezer” and “I was eating a cookie the other day, realized I didn’t like the taste all that much anymore, and stopped.” It feels incredible to see you can trust yourself around foods that formerly brought so much guilt.
what’s your reason for ditching diets?
The problem I find is that though you have a strong reason for WHY you want to ditch diets, you’re missing the HOW.
You try to stop restricting, but you find yourself on the other side of the pendulum: bingeing and feeling totally uncomfortable. You WANT food freedom, but without a roadmap – it feels too far out of reach. It’s a terrible feeling knowing what you want and feeling like you can’t get there on your own. So you keep on dieting. But here’s the thing: we’re not meant to do life alone. That’s why food freedom is closer than you think.
I’ve distilled my No Guilt Framework into a super-usable DIY guide so you can learn HOW to reach your WHY in 30 days.
With the ex-dieters guide to no more guilt I give you everything you need: a step-by-step framework with self coaching tools, tutorials explaining the most important skills, and goal setting worksheets so you can practice what you learn. Plus, I include 3 month access to the No More Guilt Community on Facebook so you can harness the hive mind of ex-dieters like you, who are moving on with their lives after a LIFETIME of dieting.
If you know you just can’t diet one more time- that doesn’t mean you’re stuck. You can go from feeling totally lost on what to do next to feeling confident in your skills as an intuitive eater in 3 months.