Reject the Diet Mentality
In the United States, the diet industry as a whole is worth over $72 billion dollars.
Why is this?
The human body perceives weight loss as a threat… It can’t tell the difference between famine and and semi-starvation. When your body’s homeostasis is threatened, it responds by attempting to push itself back to the weight that it considers to be “normal” or “safe”. It does this via the hypothalamus, or the body’s weight thermometer. The hypothalamus is responsible for controlling things like appetite and food intake. It does this by communicating with two hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is secreted into the blood from fat cells. If your body weight (specifically, your body fat) falls outside of it’s comfortable set point range, leptin levels also begin to drop, which lets the hypothalamus know it’s time to increase appetite and food cravings. Similarly, ghrelin, which is produced by the stomach, sends messages to the hypothalamus to increase appetite, food intake, and promote fat storage when your body detects an energy deficit. Our bodies were created to resist the thing that we have put so much time and energy into.
This is why dieting doesn’t work.
Founders of Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, have this to say about dieting “If dieting programs had to stand up to the same scrutiny as medications, they would never be allowed for public consumption.”²
By giving up dieting, you surrender all efforts spent on engaging in an oppressive cultural system that doesn’t work. The choice to give up dieting is not only brave one, but it’s also smart.
I don’t want to move on from this too fast. For many people, there’s anger and grieving that comes with realizing you’ve been a victim of the diet industry. Give yourself time and space to feel all that you need to feel with this realization. Journal, confide in a friend, talk to your therapist…do whatever you need to do to mourn the loss of what you thought was going to lead to your ultimate good.
And remind yourself that the diet industry has never had your best interests at heart. It’s time to look out for you, and to break free from the enslaving mind prison that the diet mentality is holding you hostage in.
Now that you have a better understanding of why you should reject the mentality, let’s look at what all the diet mentality entails.
Some aspects of the diet mentality are obvious, such as fad dieting, detox cleansing, calorie counting. Most people wouldn’t argue that those things are “diety”. So when I say “reject the diet mentality”, I am absolutely talking about all of those things.
But I’m also talking about rejecting something so much more than that. I’m talking about rejecting an entire culture, an entire way of life.
Diet culture is sneaky.
The diet industry had to adapt to it’s consumers over the past few years as more and more people are realizing that diets don’t work.
In today’s world, diets are no longer advertised as diets. They are re-branded and re-disguised as “lifestyle changes” that primarily promote “health and wellness”.
Consider Weight Watchers re-branding to WW- “Wellness that Works”.
Whole 30, paleo, intermittent fasting, clean eating, macro counting, and all of that jazz also fall under the diet mentality if you feel physically or psychologically deprived while following them.
These subtle forms of restriction have no place in the life of someone who is interested in rejecting the diet mentality.
Now that you know why you should reject the diet mentality (and what all that entails), how do you start? Here are 3 simple ways to begin the process of rejecting the diet mentality once and for all:
- Surrender all efforts to control your weight: Y’all. I know…. this is the hardest part. But the reality is that if you try to micromanage your weight, there is absolutely no way you will become an intuitive eater, because your food choices will consequently be influenced by the desire to lose weight (aka the diet mentality). I’m not saying you have to start adoring your body today. That’s unrealistic and probably not going to happen for someone who has a poor body image. What I am encouraging you to do is ask yourself what it would look like to respect your body, even while you don’t necessarily like how it looks. Dieting is a form of disrespect to your body. In the same way that so many of you were outraged about WW’s new Kurbo app for kids and teens, get outraged at the idea of doing something like that to yourself. You don’t have to love it, but I’m telling you, the sooner you release your grip on your weight and body size, the easier it is to reject the diet mentality and start eating intuitively.
- Detox from diet culture: Throw out your scale, take off the Fitbit, unfollow #fitspo Instagram accounts that make you feel like sh*t, and set boundaries with friends or family members who are entrenched in the diet mentality. When you’re surrounded by diet culture, it’s so much easier to get bogged down with it. Make a conscious effort to create space between anything that’s going to get in the way of this journey for you. This can be super uncomfortable (especially when friends and family members don’t understand what you’re doing / why you’re doing it). Although you absolutely can take time to educate them on the dangers of dieting and point them to resources, it’s not your job to do that. If loved ones can’t respect your boundaries around food, that’s just further evidence that they may be overly invested in your life & that the boundary was needed.
- Practice self-compassion: Self-compassion acknowledges the confusion, hurt, and suffering you may be experiencing on your intuitive eating journey, while also asking yourself what you need and how you can best take care of yourself. Dr. Kristen Neff outlines 3 elements of self-compassion: self-kindness vs self-judgement, common humanity vs isolation, and mindfulness vs over-identification. Click here to learn more about these three elements. Rejecting the diet mentality can feel really lonely, which is why self-compassion is so key. Even if you feel like you don’t have anyone cheering you on in this journey, you CAN be that person for yourself.
Reject the Diet mentality
To “reject” means to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, or use.
Refuse to accept the diet mentality.
Refuse to consider the diet mentality.
Refuse to submit to the diet mentality.
Refuse to use the diet mentality.
If you haven’t already began the process of rejecting the diet mentality, now is the time. Today is the day. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
P.S. If you missed my first post “Introduction to Intuitive Eating” I would encourage you to go back and check it out!
Ready to start your intuitive eating journey? Check out these fabulous resources:
- Department of Health and Aging, National Health and Medical Research Council, Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents, and Children in Australia, Melbourne 2013, p.161
- Tribole E, Resch E. The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 2017.