Whenever you start a new weight loss program, it's normal to want to follow the rules exactly as the diet says. You trust that if you do so, you'll be successful in melting off unwanted pounds. You’re convinced that this approach is the right one—until you hit the familiar speed bumps, you throw the towel after one simple mistake and you end up feeling shame and guilt for not being able to keep up with the diet. Your self-confidence crumbles after you regain all the weight back.
If this sounds familiar, you probably have entered the diet mentality. A way of thinking keeps you in the same cycles of restricting and overeating, feeling deprived and then eating out of control, and yo-yoing between weight loss and weight gain.
What is the diet mentality?
Diet mentality is a way of thinking, a set of beliefs and rules around food, eating and exercise, that we think we need to follow in order to lose weight or to be “healthy.”
Why is it important?
Diet mentality blocks our ability to tune into our body, to listen to what it truly needs, how it feels, and what to do about it. In other words, when we are under the spell of diet mentality, we cannot eat intuitively.
Diet mentality can continue to sabotage our efforts. Creating negative thoughts and beliefs with food, body and self. It perpetuates the cycles of weight loss and weight gain, shame, and guilt and erodes our self-confidence. Dieting mentality keeps us away from creating a happy and healthy relationship with food and body.
Check to see if you have fallen under the spell of "diet mentality"
1. Are you constantly either ON diet or OFF a diet?
If the answer is yes, you've probably entered the “all or none” mentality. The problem is that when you are on a diet, you eventually have to get off your diet and usually that means back to old habits. Diets are short term and does not teach you how to eat in a way that works for you!
2. Do you feel you need to follow rules, otherwise you don’t have control?
Plainly following rules does not teach you how to listen to your body. It takes you away from your intuitive cues of hunger and fullness. Learning to listen to your body will give you the tools you need to build self-trust. Meet with a practitioner that will help you listen to your body.
3. Do you describe food as good or bad?
When you label a food good or bad, you attach judgement to it. When you eat a "bad" food, you begin to transfer the judgment of the food to yourself. Now, you feel like a “bad” person for eating that food, and you need to punish yourself with guilt. Can you see how this is not a healthy mental pattern? While it is important what you eat and how often, it is also important to acknowledge the stress that it creates. A good relationship with food is as important as what you eat.
4. Everything you eat needs to be healthy, if you eat just one “unhealthy” food or food that was not in your plan you throw all your efforts out the window?
This way of thinking fabricates the perfectionistic mentality. Unfortunately this creates more harm than good. One food or one meal does not define your health. Life is not perfect. There are a lot of ups and downs and is more important to be able to navigate through those times rather than giving up all your efforts for one mistake.
5. As soon as you tell yourself you can’t have something, you end up thinking more about it?
Depriving yourself of your favorite foods, will only lead to wanting more of it. This will lead to overeating foods that you have deprived yourself after you are off a diet. It is not realistic to deprive yourself of the pleasure and enjoyment that food and eating provides. It is important to find a balanced way of eating that supports your health, that is pleasurable and enjoyable for you.
6. Are you convinced that past failed attempts were due to lack of effort and/or lack of self-control?
You might think “if I allow myself to have that food, if I don’t deprive myself of that food, then I will never be able to stop!” And say “if only I had a little more self-control I could actually achieve my goals.” Remember most diets are temporary, restrictive, and not realistic to stay on for the rest of your life. It is not you but the diet that was built only for temporary relief. It is not about self-control. It is about learning more about your body, to know what does and does not work for you.
7. Have you become your worst critic?
“I need to punish and be hard on myself otherwise I will never get there.” Punishing, criticizing and judging yourself for not keeping up with the diet, will only bring more negative feelings which feed into the cycle of emotional eating. Learn to build self-compassion and kind resiliency to maintain healthy realistic habits.
8. You need to burn off what you ate.
Exercise has become a way to punish yourself for what you ate. You may find yourself doing exercises and activities that you do not enjoy, but you still do it for the sake of burning more calories. Doing exercise just to burn off calories, becomes more stressful and does not provide you with the benefits it usually is able to provide you, such as stress relief, feel good endorphins and energy. Only when you find an activity that you enjoy and that feels good for your body will it provide the true benefits of movement.
9. Does the scale dictates your progress?
Weight is not necessarily a measure of health. Your bodyweight is not a reflection of who you are, your strength, your intelligence, your kindness, your beauty, or your worth. Let go of weighing yourself and pay attention to how you feel.
I work differently,
by getting you
and back to
This means that in our work together, you’ll be learning to make friends with food, friends with appetite, and friends with pleasure.
You’ll be learning how to trust the wisdom of your body, to trust your appetite, to slow down with food, and to find a way to eat that’s fun, enjoyable, and that you can carry forward to the rest of your life.
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