It is no secret to those that know me that I truly hate diets and diet culture. I think it is unhealthy, I think it is unrealistic and I think it is layered with incredibly toxic behaviour and thinking patterns. People are obsessed with being a particular body size and they feel unless that are that size, they do not deserve to enjoy things in their life. How many things have you held back on because you were waiting to be a particular weight on the scale? A particular clothing size before you felt you were allowed to wear a certain outfit? How many times have you told yourself everything would be so much different if you could just stick to this next diet?
The reason you can never stick to a diet long term is because they are not sustainable. When your only focus for your health is to lose weight, it is highly likely that you are not actually taking care of your health. Diets do not work. Despite the short-term gain, majority of people will gain the weight back. In fact, being on a diet has a strong correlation with weight gain. Which means like most people you can lose weight quickly in the beginning, but eventually, usually within 2-5 years you will have gained all of that weight back plus more.
So what do I recommend to take care of your health? Intuitive eating, a weight neutral approach to things, not basing your decisions on a number on a scale or a calorie count but how you actually feel within yourself. Eating what your body wants to eat. Trust me, when it is allowed the space and the right environment, your body will crave things that nourish it. When you are going to decide what to eat, asking yourself, how will this make me feel? Is this food going to give my body the fuel it needs? Making food enjoyable by paying attention to tastes, textures, aromas. Taking your time with eating, really tuning in to see how your body responds to different types of foods.
There is a notion that, yeah, this method is good but only if you are a certain body size, if you are obese or morbidly obese, you still need to diet. This method is the most important for those that are in that category. You do not need to be a magic body size to be enough to use the non-diet method. This is a way to go back to our instinctive eating habits, our primal if you will.
Do you know what most people say once they get accustomed to the non-diet lifestyle but still may not fit the body size ideal of society? They simply cannot get themselves to want to generate enough self-hate to go on another diet. You are not dieting out of love for yourself, you are dieting out of the perception that you are not enough as you are, and to be able to accept yourself you need to be smaller. This is not nourishing your body or your mind.
I always find it interesting to dissect the ideals we have in diet culture. The thought that going on a diet is to take care of your health. When in reality, going on a diet is depriving yourself of the calories you need to fuel your body. Smashing yourself into a workout and motivating yourself by hating what you see in the mirror. These things are not healthy. Yes, sometimes taking care of yourself is doing things you do not necessarily want to always do, but it is out of a place of wanting to take care of yourself rather than wanting to destroy the person you are in hopes that you will magically be someone finally everyone loves and accepts.
It is not exactly the easiest thing to break away from a lifelong training in seeing foods as good, bad, naughty, feeling uncontrollable around. Breaking these old habits might require some guidance from a professional who is familiar with these methods. I can assure you though, the freedom you get around food once you stop demonizing it, once you allow yourself full permission to eat what you want and paying attention to how it all makes your body feel. No longer beating yourself up for eating something that you think is going straight to your thighs, eating something you have been craving for days and then when you finally do, you do not even enjoy it because you are too busy berating yourself for apparently not having enough willpower.
Food is a massive part of our lives, it brings people together, it is there to be enjoyed and can bring people a lot of connection. Start choosing the foods that will gently nourish your body. As well as nourish your mind and soul. You might notice some foods make you feel full of energy, some make you incredibly lethargic, some will make you mental health spiral, some will upset your stomach and some will satisfy you in the most amazing way.
How can you start to get in tune with you mind and body today? What foods do you need to remove the guilt around? What can you do this week to step away form diet culture?