A lot of us are wanting to change our relationship with food. Maybe you feel like there’s just some room for improvements. You have a feeling that you could be doing a little bit more, but not exactly sure where to start. You’re not exactly interested in getting into a full-blown diet, you’re just looking to make a lifestyle change.

But how do we start a lifestyle change? And how do we know that we’re not actually just starting a diet hoping that it will turn into your new lifestyle?

It’s a gray line.  And it’s tough to know where you fall.

Here are my 5 Signs that Your Lifestyle Change is Actually a Diet

  1. It requires a complete overhaul or reset. True lifestyle changes do not require a reset, cleanse, or overhaul. They should be gradually integrated into your life. There is a happy medium between eating at McDonald’s every day and going raw vegan. It shouldn’t be drastic. If it is drastic, I would encourage you to ask yourself the question, why do I feel like I need to be all in or all out? And could I make one small shift each week instead?
  2. It’s drastically different from the way you eat now. This kind of falls in line with number 1 above.  The point is, it’s one thing to start making shifts and know that your end result is drastically different from the way you eat now, for example, you’re a diabetic that eats the standard American diet (highly processed foods) and you need to move more and more towards less processed foods. It’s another when you’re saying to yourself, starting on Monday I will no longer be eating any processed foods. This might not be entirely realistic.
  3. It removes a major food group. This is a HUGE red flag.  If you’re about to embark on a lifestyle change and you’ve decided to completely cut out carbohydrates (as an example), this more than likely a diet, not a lifestyle change.  Under no circumstances should you ever be removing a major food group (carbs, protein, and fat) from your diet. There’s a difference between removing a major food group and selecting the highest quality sources within that food group.  
  4. It’s not sustainable long term.  I see this a lot.  This is pattern occurs when we start on a new regime (let’s say on Monday) and you’re all fired up and ready to go. You’ve grocery shopped, you’ve prepped, and you’re ready to rock the week. You do this for a few weeks and are feeling pretty proud of yourself. But then… something happens and you’re invited to a birthday party and all hell breaks loose.  If your new lifestyle can’t include a birthday party or dinner out with your friends – it’s not sustainable. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s a diet.
  5. It’s weight loss driven. Seeking weight loss isn’t entirely a bad thing.  But there are times when it can get out of hand and be entirely indicative of diet culture vs. a true lifestyle change that allows for the gradual and natural loss of weight (if you even have weight to lose in the first place!).  When we have a “lifestyle” change that is hyper-focused on the end result being a number on the scale, we can fall into some pretty dangerous patterns such as removing food groups, over exercise, restrictive calorie intake, etc. When we fall into this pattern of continually chasing a number on the scale, it’s not a lifestyle. It’s dieting.  I would encourage you to ask yourself the question – Where am I even getting this arbitrary number from? 

Bonus Sign: It’s perfectionist driven.  When we’re dieting, there is a level of perfectionism that is at play. We’re either all in doing it perfectly as prescribed, or we’re failing.  When you’re in a lifestyle, there is no perfectionism. There are no hard and fast rules that have to be applied. I want you to call B.S. where B.S. needs to be called and say to yourself – Am I trying to be perfect with this? If the answer is yes, then girlfriend, you’re dieting.

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