How to Not Bring Dieting Mentality into Intuitive Eating

When we’re first giving up dieting, going intuitive can feel really foggy and unclear.  It’s even a bit overwhelming. How are you supposed to start listening to yourself/body when all you hear is all the shoulds you’ve learned through dieting? 

In dieting mentality, there is a very clear plan. We know what to grab at the grocery store, we know how to prep for the week, we have a clear idea of what we’re allowed to do and what we’re not allowed to do. We know how to track success. The boundaries are very clear.  And it’s all wrapped up in the idea that the golden goose if executed perfectly, is that you’ll lose weight and gain health. But… you have to do it juuuuust right.  

We know in our hearts and in our minds that this isn’t quite right, but it’s all we’ve ever known. So, how do we start to make the shift towards a more mindful approach, allowing all foods in, without it becoming its own form of a diet? 

The thing is – you’re not going to magically fall in love with your body, hear what it needs, stop restricting, stop over-exercising, or under-exercising, or binge eating overnight. Instead of declaring that you’re officially DONE with dieting.  Instead, commit to giving up dieting every. damn. day. 

Patterns and thought processes from our dieting lives take time to unravel and undo simply because it’s our comfort zone. Going outside of our comfort zone is HARD and we don’t do it all in one big leap of faith (you may, but you don’t have to), it can actually be done in stages instead. 

Each of our journeys out of dieting is going to be different. There is no perfectly defined set plan with clear boundaries and ways to track our nondieting success.  I’m sorry to break the news, but this is a messy process that just takes time. {check out the post, Sitting in Failure for more on this} 

The good news is you can’t do this wrong.  And you don’t have to do it all at once. You can do it in stages and work on what does feel natural and comfortable right now. 

It’s ok to do this in stages. 

It’s ok if it takes time. 

It’s ok if you “fail”. 

It’s ok if old habits die hard. 

It’s ok if you have to remind yourself every single day that you’re no longer dieting. 

It’s ok if you need to take a step back. 

It’s ok if you need to seek support. 

It’s ok if you have to step away from exercise because it’s too triggering. 

It’s ok if you start over every single day. 

It’s ok if you take your time. 

This is all COMPLETELY normal and expected. 

For me, the thing that came the most natural to me when I was first giving up dieting was breaking up with the scale and allowing all foods in.  Listening to my body’s needs felt more natural and something I could tap into. For others, that can feel super overwhelming – so instead, it might be helpful to learn more about nutrition and debunking nutritional myths first. This might be the stage where you’re soaking up the knowledge. This might be unfollowing certain accounts on social media and following more nondieting, body acceptance accounts so you hear less of the dieting noise, or reading books that empower you in this area {feel free to email me for a list of my favorite books!}

Exercise was really triggering for me. I took a HUGE step away from daily movement because every time I stepped foot into a gym or went for a run, dieting chatter filled my brain. I would think things like…hmmm… maybe if I finally stick with this I’ll lose a little weight. Hmmm… maybe this has been the missing link in my life? In a very real sense, I felt that exercise was 100000% wrapped up in dieting. That nobody actually did it because they liked it. They did it because it was for weight management.  I never liked exercising before (I loved to dance, swimming, and activities) – the gym was for weight loss. This was dieting talk. Dieting mentality does not own daily movement. Returning to daily movement has taken me longer to work through. This is an area where I feel like I’ve just really started to feel less triggered by it in the past year. Every time I would go running over the past few years, I had to remind myself that there were no results associated with it. And slowly, over the YEARS, I’ve finally gotten to a place where I genuinely enjoy moving my body without a side of diet chatter coming into my mind.  

So, here’s the permission slip to start where YOU are. And know that you don’t have to do it all at once. And that this can take time.  And you’re doing MORE GOOD for your long term health by stepping away from these activities than sticking to diets and over-exercising. 

Ok, so, where are you going to start this week? What’s one thing you feel comfortable and ready to dip your toes into breaking up with dieting?


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