No Diet New Year

Let’s make this year about our health and not our size! Let’s say no to diets! Does this seem impossible? I promise that it can be done.  It seems like everyone jumps on the diet and weight loss train when the New Year comes around.  But guess what? There is no train! Or, there may be a train but it only brings you around in circles instead of helping you achieve your actual health goals.  This is because diets and goals of weight loss typically make us gain weight.  Yes, you heard me! This ends up creating a cycle of dieting, losing weight, and gaining weight back.  What’s worse is that we continually perpetuate this cycle-how many diets have you tried?  Did you know that weight cycling (the cycle of losing and gaining weight repeatedly) is actually worse for our health than staying in a larger sized body? Here’s where we can make a difference! Instead of dieting and vowing to lose 20 pounds this New Year, lets focus instead on how our bodies feel and what they can do instead of how they look or what size they are.  Find out how below!

Ditch Diet Culture!

  • Say no to diets, weight loss programs, and anything else the beauty/weight loss industry may convince you to buy.  Diets and the media make us believe that our bodies are out of control and we need something to follow to get them under control.  This is simply not true.  Our bodies are great at telling us when we are hungry or full, we just need to listen to them instead of asking someone else “When and what should I eat?”.  We need to fuel our body intuitively, following our food preferences and hunger/fullness cues.  We have gotten to a point where restricting entire food groups and only eating “super foods” is normal.  This is not normal eating behavior.  We don’t need a program to follow, we need to listen to our bodies!
  • Avoid talking or thinking about your body negatively or engaging in weight loss talk.
  • Think about food differently:

                                          Diet Mindset        Non-Diet Mindset  

Give yourself permission to eat.

  • Setting rules for foods, or labeling foods as “off-limits” or “bad” makes our mind and bodies want them more and enforces the idea that we can’t control our bodies or minds.  There is room for all food.

Eat mindfully.

  • Paying closer attention to hunger and fullness cues from your body is a great way to give it what it needs.  Eating slowly and paying attention to the taste, smell, and texture of your foods gives your body a more satisfied feeling.

Take the morality out of food

  • Thinking of food as “good” or “bad” can actually have negative consequences.  When we eat these “bad” foods, we internalize this and think of ourselves as “bad”.  We don’t even enjoy these foods while we eat them because we’re feeling so guilty about it and usually end up eating more than we intended.  Try taking these labels away from food and ask “What do I feel like eating today?” instead of “What should I eat today” and see how this shift in mindset can help your relationship with food.  It might be scary at first, but stick with it! Your body will naturally encourage you to eat nutritious foods most of the time and still enjoy things you may think of as off limits right now. Gobbling up a piece of chocolate cake because you think you shouldn’t be eating it, will only make you want more of it.  If chocolate cake is a “bad” or “off limits” food you will likely feel guilty for eating it.  If you give yourself permission to eat that piece of chocolate cake and eat it slowly, taking the time to enjoy it, you may find that you don’t end up eating as much as you may usually eat.

What about cravings?

  • Cravings are a direct result of restriction or deprivation.  Once we give ourselves permission to eat all foods, cravings will typically subside substantially.  Cravings also occur naturally.  We should listen to them, and eat those foods mindfully for the full satisfaction factor.

Lastly, avoid making food and nutrition about changing your appearance.

  • Most of us would probably like to change something about our bodies.  But where do these feelings come from? Typically, cultural pressure to feel like we need to look a certain way to be of value and to be healthy.  This is beyond problematic.  All bodies are good bodies.  If you’re unhappy with your body, try to start accepting and respecting your body.  One way to do this is replace negative self-talk about your body (or yourself in general) with positive thoughts.  At least noticing these negative thoughts can help too.  If you wouldn’t say these things to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself.  This may be really difficult at first.  Try expressing gratitude for your body to start.  Be thankful that your legs can carry you from place to place or that your arms can be used to embrace people you care about.  Stay positive!
  • Instead, work on making health goals that only pertain to actual behaviors like food choices to support health (not calories for weight loss!) or activity goals that don’t involve changing the shape of your body.  Examples:
    • Include a fruit or vegetable with each meal to meet daily fiber recommendations.
    • Activity goal: to walk for 30 minutes without having to take a break.
    • Get enough sleep to support your body.
    • Find tools to help relieve or manage stress: reading, walking, meditation, yoga, dancing, listening to music, etc.

Give these ideas a try and say “No!” to dieting this New Year!