If you live in the modern world, dieting images are everywhere. Other than tribes that live deep in the rainforest, everyone is exposed to the diet industry’s marketing ploys. The promise of a radical life change if you only lose a few pounds is appealing. Want to feel more confident? Drop a dress size! Do you want the attention of that hottie you’ve had your eye on? Hurry to the gym to tone that tush! These ads are meant to draw you in so you fork over your hard earned money on empty promises. If you are someone who welcomes the newest diet, then the hardest part is just deciding which diet will be the flavor of the month. But if you have vowed to shun dieting, these ads can be particularly challenging.
When I decided that I had had enough and hit diet bottom, I sought help and was introduced intuitive eating by my dietitian. Even though IE flew in the face of all of my food rules, I knew I couldn’t bring myself to diet anymore. Sure, I was hesitant about the process, but I knew that legalizing my forbidden foods, getting rid of food labels, and giving myself permission to eat was what needed to be done for both my physical and mental health.
Despite my gung-ho determination, I wanted to give up. Often. Even though I took it slowly and went at my own pace, there were times when I wanted to just throw in the towel and rush back to my diet. I would see a picture of a celebrity1 or hear people praised for weight loss and it took all I had in me to not revert to counting points or weighing myself multiple times a day.
I wouldn’t be writing this if I had given up on IE, but it was far from easy. Yes, I knew the research about how dieting doesn’t work, but the irrational part of my brain didn’t care. I felt I couldn’t fully open myself up to the process because there was uncertainty. I wondered if I’d ever be able to stop eating or what my body’s natural weight would be. I slowly learned to trust that my body would tell me what it needed and the process got easier.
To be honest, there are still times when I feel a tickle of an urge to diet, but then I remind myself why dieting sucked2 and the urge fades. As a way to help me through these times, I created a list of what I don’t miss about dieting.
- writing down every little thing I eat in my food journal and freaking out over the accuracy
- the number on the scale defining me and affecting my mood
- weighing and counting out every single portion of food3
- planning out every single meal and adhering to that plan even if it doesn’t sound appealing
- focusing all of my mental energy on how many calories are in my meals rather than important things like family, friends, and the quality of life
- obsessing about the fat on my body
- feeling guilt, shame, and anxiety about being “bad” after breaking my food rules
- eating only at certain restaurants because they post their nutritional information and that makes me feel “safe”4
- knowing only the extremes of famished or uncomfortably stuffed
- constantly thinking about food
- exercising as punishment rather than enjoyment
- denying myself the pleasure of eating by only eating “healthy” foods and little else
- comparing myself to others and the subsequent shrinking of my self-esteem
- always being tired because I was not taking care of my body
- not wanting to be hugged because someone might comment on my bones
- my self-bully
Intuitive eating is anti-diet, but we are all human. Who doesn’t want to cash in on what the latest diet will offer?5 But lurking beneath are false promises. I sometimes thought that IE wasn’t the right path for me, but my hatred for dieting won that battle. I didn’t succumb and dieting ads eventually became background noise.
However, there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you question your commitment to intuitive eating. It is an uphill battle and any weary dieter might consider giving up during tough times. And it could be that your mind isn’t receptive to the concept of IE at this moment in your life for whatever reason. That’s okay. IE will still be here when you are ready. If you are in a place where you want to try it but have doubts, think back to the horrors in your dieting history and hopefully that helps you take the next small step in your IE journey.
What do you not miss about dieting? Please share in the comment section below.
1A Photoshopped picture, I might add.
2I tried to come up with a more eloquent word, but “sucked” does a good job of summing up my feelings about dieting.
3This ranged from counting out an exact number of nuts to worrying about whether the clove of garlic I added to my meal was small or medium sized.
4Chipotle was a “safe” place for me…and I didn’t even like Chipotle!
5If you are reading this around New Year’s, remember that diet companies are out in full force right now! They don’t care about you. They are trying to increase their profits. It’s all about money!
Thank you so much for reading my blog! I am honored that you chose to read about my experience. As a certified intuitive eating counselor, I offer online group support services through Zoom. Please contact me at email@example.com or go directly to my Online Group Support page for more information.