Every so often, I awaken upset, look in the mirror, and decide that I need to diet, stop eating gluten, juice, or lose weight.
For about two seconds.
Then, I stop myself and remember that diets don't work. Or, more accurately, diets do not work long-term.
Most importantly though, I remember that diets do not solve my interpersonal relationships and negative self-talk. Translated: People do not like me because of the size of ass.
Diets, as we understand them, are often society-approved manifestos of self-loathing and 'unacceptable' thinking. This is because most diets are marketed a means to change what we falsely believe is wrong with our physical form.
Put another way: when you commit to a diet, you are subconsciously telling yourself that there is something wrong with you. Now, I know that that is a whoa statement, but think about it:
When was the last time you dieted because you loved yourself in that moment?
Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of choices we can make to affirm our health and exercise our self-care. And, some of these choices will certainly affect our eating habits. But still, when we decide to diet we need to ask: what don't I love about myself in this moment and is that true?
After many years of suffering, I learned to stop dieting. Period. I don't allow myself to diet, because, for me, dieting is a maladaptive response to some negative feedback in my mind that I need to offer some love to. And, while this means that I lose the fairytale of body (control) equals happiness, I gain insight about myself!
Don't diet to 'fix' something. Don't diet to better define yourself. Maybe, let go of the idea of 'diet' altogether.
Here's what I've learned sans diet...
1. I know what hunger feels like.
When we're constantly dieting, we lose sight of what hunger feels like. (Yes. Hunger shows up with a physical feeling!) Instead of asking what does my body need?, dieting externalizes and codifies food choices; we eat by schedule and plan, instead of our tummies! This means we often ignore or over-feed our hunger cues. And, in my experience, the misappropriation of hunger cues is exactly where craving and binge eating comes from. When we ignore our bodily insight, we tend to make heroes (or villains) out of muffins! Don't do that.
2. I have a woman's body.
The first time I heard my sweetie call my body womanly I cried. (True story! It was a hot mess...) Then, I remembered, a woman is who I am meant to be. Not only does diet mentality inform how we feed ourselves, a dieting mentality sets unnecessary parameters on what we should look like! Letting go of the diet allows for us to look like ourselves. Sure, this might take some getting used to (it did for me...), but ultimately, looking like you is a beautiful thing!
3. Happiness is not found on my plate.
When I learned to stop planning for a daily diet, I realized that I was starving away other needs that I had! Dieting creates a hyper-consciousness about food choices and (temporarily) distances us from our other hungers. Sometimes, we need a hug. A massage. A kickin' yoga class. And, when we are nourished appropriately, we learn better feel what we *actually* need to nourish our bodies.
4. I've actually learned to trust myself more.
By not surrendering my food choices to an arbitrary plan, I actually learned to trust myself more. And, this makes sense! It's hard to trust yourself when you are actively telling your body that some plan knows better than you! The more I've learned to listen to my body and eat based on my choices, the more I've learned to love and trust myself. The best part—these empowering feelings permeate into all of my choices.
5. I like chocolate... but, not that much!
When all foods are valid, tastes change. You might find that those foods you "love" you actually just like. You might remember that kale tastes pretty good! When I eat what my body wants, I find that my mind learns to crave less. Experientially, I come to recognize that most of my cravings were born out of rules, rigidity, and dieting!
When I am intuitively nourishing myself, there is no physical reason to crave anything. In fact, if I feel a craving popping into my head it's usually because I've deemed something 'bad' or denied my body. Nutritionists teach that there are no "bad" foods; this is often called the "non-diet approach." For me, non-dieting means I do not have to live in extremes. I no longer compulsively crave chocolate because I have it when I want. It actually *is* that simple. Sure, I still indulge from time to time. But, indulgence is my choice—not a primal act of defiance.
Our bodies are highly intelligent. We just have to give them room and space to sweetly share what they instinctually know!
Are YOU ready to ditch your diet?
Photo Credit: Lindsay France