You’re sick and tired of the same yoyo cycle of dieting. There are times when you think “No more dieting!” But, starting a new diet can come with hope and excitement that this time it will be different.
And then . . . it isn’t different. Maybe you lose a few pounds, maybe you don’t…but the guilt and disappointment remain.
You’re sick of that cycle, but don’t know what else you can do.
Maybe it is time to give up on dieting?
Giving up is fraught with feelings – mostly feeling like you failed. However, choosing to give something up that isn’t serving you can be freeing, a relief. If dieting fails you, maybe it is time to think about giving it up.
Dieting is a thing. (I know I probably don’t even need to tell you that.) Dieting is deeply ingrained in our culture. So much so that giving up on dieting feels like a foreign concept. People diet for a lot of reasons including:
- To look a certain way
- To lose weight
- Because they are tired of people commenting on how they look and telling them they should lose weight
- To be healthy
- Because their doctor told them to
- To feel a part of something
There are a lot of reasons to diet. But, does it work?
Does dieting work – in the long-term?
For some, diets can “work” in the short term. Maybe.
However, do diets work in the long-term? Not really.
Yes, there are studies that show certain diets work for weight loss. However, they usually only follow the participants for a few weeks or months. Those that follow participants for longer terms – months or years – show that diets don’t work (including surgical interventions, can you believe it?)
Additionally, for many people dieting leads to weight cycling – losing weight and regaining it right back. Research has shown that weight cycling has negative consequences on bodies and minds as well.
If dieting doesn’t work, and can actually be harmful, how do you give it up?
What does giving up dieting mean?
Giving up dieting means giving up all the expectation, stress, food rules and anxiety that go with it. While this sounds simple at first, it can be a complex process. Truly giving up dieting requires a change in thinking. And is best guided with the partnership of a registered dietitian (hey, that’s me!).
One of the biggest benefits of giving up dieting is learning to identify and re-frame the thoughts that go along with dieting.
For example, learning how to stop labeling yourself “good” and “bad” (moralizing) based on how you eat takes time, not to mention \practice. It takes time to recognize and change those thought patterns. Learning how to stop moralizing food – labeling foods “good” and “bad” – takes time, too.
It may mean learning to stick up for yourself with family, friends, and those in the medical community. Learning how to get discussions of body size and weight off the table takes practice.
Giving up dieting also means learning to accept your body and its less than “ideal” shape. Learning to respect your “right now” body as it is can be hard -s o hard. We’ve been steeped in Diet Culture all our lives telling us the lie that our bodies need to look a certain way and if it doesn’t that we are bad, immoral people. Learning to unlearn this takes time.
What does life look like after giving up dieting?
When I talk with people about giving up dieting, many times they’ll say “If I’m not dieting, what am I doing?”
They’ve been dieting so long, they literally can’t picture life without it.
No more dieting means you’re eating. Just eating. Eating to nourish your body. Eating to have energy for all the things you want to do. Eating because the food tastes good. There isn’t a single reason to eat (or not eat).
Not dieting means you’re moving your body to feel good. Moving to support your health. Moving to be outside.
Not dieting means having the headspace and energy you’ve spent thinking (obsessing?) about food and workouts to spend on other things.
Letting go of the rules, stress and anxiety around food makes room for joy, pleasure and fun. It’s wonderful.
Why giving up dieting doesn’t mean you’re giving up on yourself.
Not dieting doesn’t mean you’re giving up on yourself or your body. It means removing the restriction around what you eat and how you move. If you’ve ever worn pants that are tight and restrictive, how did it feel to take them off? Like you could move and breathe! A similar sense of freedom can happen when you choose to give up dieting.
There is fear around it. I’ve had clients say, “If I can eat anything I want, I’ll be as big as a house!”
Based on my experience with previous clients, when giving up dieting some people do gain some weight, at least initially. Some people lose weight. You just don’t know until you try how your body will respond.
Giving up dieting means learning what works for you and your body rather than believing what some outside source tells you “should” work.
Giving up dieting also means learning to accept your here-and-now body. This can be a hard one because it means giving up that idealized body you’ve created in your mind. However, I’ve seen clients become happier and more confident when they do accept their here-and-now body. They have more fun with it and learn new ways to move and dress it. And, they have more energy to spend on other things than thinking about why their body isn’t cooperating with what they are trying to force it to do.
Giving up dieting gives you the space to learn what works for you and your body. It isn’t giving up on yourself or your body. It is giving up the energy and headspace dieting takes from you every day.
Want to learn more?
If you want to talk about how you can go about giving up dieting, and make room for joy with eating and peace with your body, set up a 30-minute call with me to talk about how you can get started. I can’t wait to meet with you and show you how wonderful life can be when you kick dieting to the curb.