(This is the second of two articles on dropping diet mentality. Read part one, “A healthy eating tip for the New Year: Ditch the diet,” here.)
Imagine if you woke up New Year’s Day and weren’t consumed with thoughts of having to fix your body.
Imagine not refusing the brownie because it’s not on your list of approved foods on your “diet” to get thinner.
That doesn’t need to be a dream if you stop believing that food and total body vigilance are the answer.
In the first part of this article, I suggested that if you’re thinking about dieting — that is, using willpower and restriction to control your eating — don’t.
So if not dieting, what can you do to take care of your whole health instead? Try something radically different. Transform how you eat. Transform how you view your body. Move on with your life, the ultimate reward of pushing diet culture off your plate.
Begin by relearning how to eat.
The problem with any diet is that “most people trying to control the size, shape or weight of their bodies have learned to put the rules of the new plan before their body’s actual needs,” according to BeNourished.org, a website focused on healthy eating and body image.
Intuitive eating is the antidote because it’s based on the opposite premise. Instead of restriction, you are guided to tune into internal cues and your body’s needs. That includes learning to honor your individual hunger, fullness, satisfaction and which foods make you feel best.
Essentially, intuitive eating is just … eating.
But because “diet mentality is so deeply ingrained in societal beliefs, that intuitive eating, our natural way of eating, is considered revolutionary,” says the Loving Me Project, which encourages women to live a purpose-driven life.
When we no longer live by external food rules and societal beliefs that our bodies are too much or are not enough, we can get on with our lives.
What are you really “hungering” for? If it wasn’t about controlling your food to transform your body, what would you focus on each new year — and the rest of your life?
“Letting go of the idea of a smaller body, means creating space for a bigger life,” The Loving Me Project says. (You can follow the project on Instagram at @the.lovingmeproject).
Think big, not small, in the new year – without a limited view of “what’s healthy” — where diet culture wants to keep you focused, continuing to spend your time, money and energy, year after year. Instead use your head space to answer these questions:
• What would a life beyond dieting and body worry look like for you?
• What do you really want out of life?
• What really matters most?
• What would make this upcoming year extraordinary?
Envision your future as if it’s already happened. Describe the diet culture-free life you would create for yourself, and email me your answers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Diet culture steals your joy, your spark, and your life, which is why I call it, ‘the life thief,’” said Christy Harrison, author of “Anti-Diet.”
Don’t spend your life thinking you’re broken, a project to be fixed. Don’t be the 90-year-old woman refusing the fresh-baked brownie from her granddaughter because she’s “watching her waistline.”
Do something radical in the new year: Don’t diet. Listen to your body and live fully.
Tips for the New Year:
Listen to your body
Ready to learn how to listen to your body’s internal cues?
Transform your body image, not your body. It’s what you think about your body that’s the real challenge.
“I am too fat,” “I’m too skinny,” “I have too many stretch marks,” “I don’t have enough muscle.”
What if we swapped the endless pursuit of fixing or hiding our bodies, believing that our bodies are not enough or too much, to pursue a healthy body image instead?
What if instead of trying to change our physical appearance, we adjusted our mindset, our thoughts?
Focusing on changing your body image verses changing your body, can produce life-changing benefits. This switch can boost your self-esteem, banish persistent body anxiety, promote comfort in personal relationship, improve your relationship with food, reduce unhealthy dieting habits, improve your relationship with exercise, reduce the risk of developing an eating disorder, decrease social isolation due to body worries.
And most of all, changing your body image can improve your overall quality of life. Controlling your body shouldn’t be your life’s work.
Remember: “You are not alive to just pay bills and lose weight,” says Caroline Donner, author of “The F*ck It Diet.”
Read to re-learn how to eat?
Intuitive Eating: Do you need to re-learn how to eat?
Ready to transform how you view your body?
5 Steps to a Healthy Body Image