When I suggest to my clients that to truly create a peaceful relationship with food they need to quit dieting, they usually say something along the lines of:
- I can't stop dieting, I'll eat everything!
- I'm not healthy, I have to be on a diet!
- I wouldn't even know what to eat if I wasn't following a plan!
Oh my gosh, can I ever relate.
I was afraid that if I wasn't on a diet I'd eat everything that wasn't nailed down. I figured I couldn't control myself around food, so a diet was the only thing keeping me from consuming every chocolate cake in the tri-state area. And if I ate all that food, well, my worst fear might come true: I'd gain weight.
Even when I saw, very clearly, that dieting was keeping me in a never-ending cycle of restricting and binge eating, it was still very scary to give up. There's so much safety in following a plan, and so much hope that this time will be the one that works.
So what happened when I finally, really, truly gave up dieting?
Everything got so much better.
Did you hear that? SO MUCH BETTER.
I started actually liking my body the way it was. I started feeling totally peaceful around food, even foods I used to think I was addicted to/couldn't control myself around (like cream cheese, chocolate chips or bread with butter).
I continued to eat plenty of foods that supported my health, despite the fact that there wasn't a diet guru whispering to me that I had to eat them. I did not stop exercising or taking care of myself. I did not gain weight, despite my fears.
The one thing I did gain, though, was time and energy for things I really cared about, like my family and my business and my personal development.
But I get it. If I ask you stop dieting, I'm asking you to go into uncharted territory. To make your own decisions about what you will and will not eat. To trust that your body will tell you when it's hungry and when it's full.
And I realize if you stop dieting you're also risking weight gain.
There, I said it. You worst fear may come true.
But you know what else might cause you to gain weight? Dieting! Rebound weight gain once you're not following the plan (especially because you're likely to overeat all the stuff you weren't allowed while you were dieting) is almost inevitable.
Dieting does not actually make you any healthier, either, so don't give me that excuse. I know for a fact I was much less healthy, especially when it came to mental and emotional health, when I was dieting all the time, because I was totally obsessed with food and the number on the scale.
And that fear of eating everything that's not nailed down? When you begin to diet, you become biologically and psychologically primed to obsess about food and find it more rewarding to eat. When you do give in and "break" your diet, you do have a tendency to overeat, which you think proves you can't control yourself. However, in reality it's your restrictive ways that set you up for the fall.
Yes, your worst fear may come true if you give up dieting. But I think it's more likely that you'll gain things you can't even imagine right now, like feeling completely relaxed around a bowl of candy and going to sleep at night not obsessing about what you're going to pack for lunch the next day.
It's so much better over here. Join me.
If this article resonates with you, head on over to my website and get your copy of The One Thing You Must Do to Stop Feeling Crazy Around Food.