Now that you’ve got an idea of what Intuitive Eating encompasses (this post!), it’s time to delve into the 10 principles that set its foundation. This first principle is a BIG one. It’s essential. It’s fundamental. It’s hard.
REJECT THE DIET MENTALITY
What is the diet mentality? Well, it’s not only the extreme diets and “easy solutions” we constantly hear about in the media. It’s that little nagging voice of “small, sustainable changes that should help me lose weight” too. Because when something goes wrong (i.e., somebody doesn’t lose weight like they had been hoping to), the message or idea that this person is doing something wrong or not trying hard enough is more detrimental than the fact that they didn’t lose weight.
Think about it: If you’ve ever tried to diet, how did it make you feel? Were you tired? Did you have cravings? What has a focus on weight loss done to your body and mind? Dieting is a setup for failure. It is the problem, not the solution. Denying the signals your body sends you naturally on a daily basis causes unreliable hunger and fullness cues and breaks the trust between your mind and your body.
Dieting erodes confidence and self-trust. It teaches your body to retain more fat once you do begin eating normally again and slows your metabolism down for the next time it’s forced into “starvation mode”. It increases cravings and often leads to food binges, and dieting is highly associated with eating disorders. Ultimately, dieting leads to weight GAIN; only 2-5% of dieters sustain weight loss for greater than five years.
Dieting is a constant cycle of restriction, deprivation, cravings, giving in, feeling guilty, and starting again. Health does not equal thinness, but the diet culture in our society is obsessed with this idea. Our value is not placed on being a certain size, weight, or shape, and it’s time we start valuing the things that MATTER.
So, what can you do to reject the diet mentality?
1. Acknowledge the negative effects that dieting or a diet mentality can have and the fact that dieting is dangerous.
Aside from the effects I mentioned above, dieting can increase the risk of premature death and heart disease.
2. Observe how you think about food.
Is it constantly on your mind? Do you have “good” and “bad” foods or see yourself as “good” or “bad” based on what you’ve eaten? Do you have rules about when, what, or how much you “should” eat?
3. Forget the ideas of willpower, obedience, and failure when it comes to eating.
You can’t fail at intuitive eating; it’s a learning process and it comes with trial and error. Dieting, however, is going completely against your body’s natural instincts—instinct that keep you alive—and you’ll feel like a failure when you can no longer deny them (AKA: begin to honor your body again… which is a principle of its own! Stay tuned.)
4. Get rid of body scales, food scales, calorie counters, food trackers, and fitness apps.
Anything that reduces your value down to a number—you do not need it to be healthy or feel good about yourself.
5. Throw out any diet books or magazine articles that promote weight loss techniques.
Unfollow social media accounts that don’t make you feel good about yourself. Scrap any “meal plans” that attempt to dictate exactly what and how you should eat. Stop looking for a “new” diet so that you can rediscover intuitive eating and take a gentle approach to nutrition and your body.
6. Have grace.
Your intuitive eating journey might be long, it might be hard, and it will probably be frustrating at times, but it will be worth it. This is a journey of constant progress and being kinder to yourself. A single food, meal, or even entire day is not going to make or break your health.
at the end of the day…
Rejecting the diet mentality is rejecting the idea that weight or fat is something that you need to get rid of. It means recognizing that there isn’t one way of eating that’s “right” or “best”. Care for your body as it is right now, in this moment. Stay tuned for principle #2!