Reject The Diet Mentality

Become an Intuitive Eater

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, two experts in the field of nutrition, eating disorders, and child/adolescent obesity. Also the coauthors of the book by the same name, they are credited with the information for this article and others in the series that will follow.

So what is intuitive eating? Simply put, it is the freedom from the shackles of dieting… forever. Intuitive eating includes ten principles, of which the first will be the focus of this article.

Principle One: Reject the diet mentality.

If the mention of these four words elicits a sense of fear, anxiety, or dread, you are not alone. Most caught in the vicious cycle of dieting are weary and ready for change, but the first step is always the hardest. And still, many who have given up a “formal” diet are being subtly seduced by the diet mentality.

So, just what is a “diet mentality”? A diet mentality encompasses anything that limits, restricts, confines, or forbids in order that one may obtain the “thin image” idealized by our society. Yet, dieting increases cravings for food, which leads to the loss of control and eventual overeating. The inability to obtain the “ideal” is despairing for the dieter, especially when any weight lost is gained back, plus some. Sadly, this cycle can be repeated for years, decades, or a lifetime.

There is one and only one answer to breaking the bondage, and that is to choose to give up dieting… once and for all.

If this seems impossible, there are several steps according to Tribole and Resch that will help facilitate making this choice. The first step is admitting that dieting is damaging to your body and soul. Physiologically, dieting decreases metabolism, increases binges and cravings (as seen in the dieter’s dilemma above), causes a change in body shape due to regained weight in the abdominal area, and causes an inability to recognize true hunger and satisfaction. Dieting is also damaging to your soul in that it is directly correlated with feelings of failure, lowered self-esteem, and social anxiety.

The second step in rejecting the diet mentality is becoming aware of your “mental script” as it relates to food, exercise, and body image. Think about these questions. Do you describe food as either good or bad? Do you feel guilty after eating certain foods? Is the sole purpose of exercise calorie burn? Do You feel guilty if you miss a day of exercise? Are you consumed with a number on a scale, how you look, and what other people may be thinking about your weight? If so, you are still caught in the trap and have not surrendered the belief that dieting will be your friend.

The third step is to get rid of all dieter’s tools–any external force used to regulate your eating or validate your “progress,” such as the scale, meal plans, and calorie counters.

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