Before we get into the mistakes, I need to come clean. You see I believe, well, really I KNOW, dieting is absolute bullshit. So I’m going to breakdown the most common mistakes dieters make that “sabotage their progress”.
You see, many of these mistakes, as you’ll find out, are major pillars upholding the diet culture framework. Spoiler alert: my true intention is to help you begin to see just how terrible dieting is for you and why we need to tear down this framework altogether and rebuild a completely new one.
Let’s cut to the chase and get to the reason you’re here:
The most common mistakes dieters make
Eating too many salads
Okay, don’t get me wrong I love a big salad packed with nuts and veggies with dressing drizzled on top and it definitely has it’s place in a healthy diet. But many of us associate dieting with salads. And so, many dieters eat salad day in and day out in the name of health.
While these avid salad eaters are certainly getting lots of veggies into their diet, an endless itinerary of salad is sure to bore even the most regimented eater. Yet there are so many other ways to include more vegetables on your plate! You could have soup, roasted vegetables, grilled vegetables, vegetable soup, stew, a casserole or a Buddha bowl. There are so much more options than the traditional salad.
Besides who wants to eat salad every day in the dead of winter? Count me out! Whether you ascribe to Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine aka TCM or just have a hunch, a cold dish when it’s freezing outside is not a good mix.
When you forbid yourself from eating certain foods, especially those that you enjoy, you’re setting yourself up for failure before you even get started. Why? Because by forbidding any type of food you are going to really want that food. You’ve also moralized it so that wanting that food makes you “bad”, so you really want to do a good job and avoid this food. This will have you teetering on the line between abstinence and obsession.
This is because of what psychologist Daniel Wegner, Ph.D. calls “ironic processes”. Essentially, as you tell your brain to not think about a particular thing it will scan for related thoughts to shut down. But as your brain is sifting through these thoughts it is bringing them to your attention so that it seems to be all you can think of.
It becomes a landslide effect; you crave the food, you admonish yourself for wanting the food, you feel guilty for wanting the “bad” food, you try not to think of the food, ironic processes kick in and brings up ALL your related thoughts to the food, you feel even worse because now it’s all you can think of and now you’ve been thinking about the food for a long time so you want it even MORE, this cycle continues and escalates each time till eventually… you cave. And really, who wouldn’t after all that?
Cutting out fat
There is a big misconception that eating fat will make you, well… fat. And since the very core of diet culture is to lose weight to gain health dieters cut fat from their diets. But fat is critical to a healthy diet.
Healthy fats included in your diet fuel your body. They give you energy and power your brain. They give you what most people look for from a diet for – more energy, brain clarity and healthy, glowing skin.
The trickiest part about cutting fat out of your diet is relying on manufactured fat-free foods.
These are so often loaded with sugar to make up for the loss of flavor the fat normally provides. And if there’s one thing all dietary theories can agree on it’s this: there is little room for added sugars in a healthy diet.
Opting for the quick fix
Quick fixes like a 7 day cleanse and 30-day refresh are just temporary ways of eating. These forms of dieting are designed to shock your body into “quick results”. They aren’t sustainable over time and teach you zip, zero, zilch about healthy eating habits.
In fact, they usually share unhealthy habits that are harmful and lead to disordered eating if not an eating disorder. And at the end of your quick-fix solution, you’re left just as knowledgeable on how to eat well as the day you started… if not more confused.
You’ve followed strict rules with every sip and bite carefully calculated only to be left in the cold. Since you don’t know what to do next you fall back into old eating patterns. Souped up cravings begin to make their way back with a vengeance. And, as is so common, you begin to integrate the unhealthy habits you learned from your quick fix to “combat” giving into cravings.
Believing weight loss equals gained health
Raise your hand if you believe that losing weight means gaining health. Did you raise your hand? I’d be more surprised if you didn’t. But let me break it to you – just because someone has lost weight and become a smaller size does not mean they are any healthier.
Yet this is such a toxic belief we hold onto in our society and one that is very prevalent. Think of how many commercials, stories and even word of mouth testimonials you have heard about a diet that brags about the numbers. Weight changes, clothing size changes, portion size changes, circumference changes for each and every single damn body part. It’s madness.
And the kicker is none of those numbers measure how good you FEEL. They don’t tell you if your mood has improved if you sleep better at night or have more energy throughout the day. So really think about why you are dieting. Does it really have to do with health? Or does it have a whole lot more to do with shrinking down to a different size?
Lack of self-empathy
You’re ready to drive yourself into the ground in the name of losing weight and becoming more healthy. You’re pinning motivational quotes like “sweat is fat crying” or “keep going till you collapse”. You admonish yourself for thinking about anything outside the plan. Anything that will “ruin” your hard work.
You’ve set the bar high and anything short of perfect is unacceptable. You wrap it up with a neat little bow and call it motivation or self-care, maybe even both. But the truth is you’re being a cruel bully to your own self.
There are two common results from this kind of drive: burnout or “quitting”. And either way, you’ll be completely miserable. Because no one likes being around a hardass never mind spending 24/7 with one.
What do you think?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’ve engaged in most or all of these behaviors you are not alone. I certainly have, your friends and family have and everyone else reading this post has.
It’s the nature of our culture that we have consciously and subconsciously picked up and absorbed since we were children. From watching your mom carefully weigh herself each morning to the eating disorder episode of Lizzie Mcguire to the endless pins on Pinterest on how to become smaller, leaner, better, stronger, prettier (and in only 5 days!!!) this stuff is ev.er.ree.where. The grocery aisles, commercials, movies, and even friends… it’s pretty much inescapable.
So what can we do? Do we look for a better diet (there isn’t one), throw our hands up in exasperation and just eat all the junk (not quite) or since we can’t beat them just join them (please don’t)?
Allow me to introduce you to intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is basically the antithesis to traditional diets. It’s flexible, compassionate, creates space for you to eat whatever you want, is a long-term solution and doesn’t focus on losing/gaining weight as an end goal.
Sounds rad, right? I think so too!
And the best part is there are no rules. Guiding principles? Yes. But nothing is hard and fast or restrictive. It’s about learning to listen to your body again and gaining an understanding of what works best for your unique body and circumstances.
And in the meantime,
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