Today is International No Diet Day and as a consequence I’ve been pondering on how I broke up with diets, found balance and how my nutrition practice has changed.
As a teenager my most read books were a calorie counter, a book about a girl with anorexia and Oprah Winfery’s and Bob Green’s weight loss book ‘Make the Connection’. Not surprisingly, the only connection I made was with disordered eating and consequently much energy and time lost to obsessing about food and exercise.
Fast forward 20 years (wow that makes me feel old!) and I have well and truly come out the other side of an unhappy place to find balance with food. However it’s taken me a wee while to realise that diets don’t work. I was a nutritionist who would give you a meal plan of what to eat at breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you were into calories, I’d tell you how many you should stick to to drop between 0.5-1kg a week. I’d tell you how many treats to stick to and what portion size to have. Back then I thought I promoted balance, but it’s only really over the past couple of years I’ve been learning and developing a new style of practice that’s really started to snowball in terms of what I know and how I now practice. I now promote no diet days every day! So what is International No Diet Day and how do you start to break up with diets.
International No Diet Day encourages you to:
• Declare a day free of dieting and obsessions about weight and shape.
• Challenge the idea of one “ideal” body shape and embrace body diversity.
• Discover and understand the diet industry and how diets just don’t work
And those are just the things that I work with clients on today for not just a day, but for a lifetime of a better relationship with food and their body as well as better health.
Here’s some tips and pointers to get started on a diet free way of living.
Acknowledge that diets don’t work
Despite what you might think, the reason you gain weight back after being on a diet isn’t your lack of will power. It’s the effect diets have on your mind and it’s your biology. Less than 5% of people maintain weight loss on a diet. We all have a ‘set point’ weight where our natural weight sits. Our bodies work through a process of homeostatsis to try and maintain this. Kind of like a thermostat works to keep heat at a certain point. When we lose weight and restrict our food intake, our bodies internal mechanisms work to get back to this set point. Our bodies produce hormones that signal hunger and our bodies then tend to gain a little extra weight. This can then increase our ‘set point’ weight, in case we begin to diet again! Restriction and a black and white mindset about food also leads to binge eating and an inability to listen to your bodies natural hunger and fullness cues (the good news is they can be relearned!)
Learn how to spot a diet
Diets aren’t fashionable these days. So many people say their way of eating is a ‘lifestyle change’ but many are just diets in disguise. This article explains more. Here’s the difference between a diet and a non diet approach to eating.
Ditch the food rules
Instead of following a set of rules about what you should and shouldn’t eat, eat in a way that makes your body feel good. Include the foods you love to eat.
Be kind to your body
Self care encourages better body image and a better body image makes you feel better about yourself and your eating patterns. After all, no one ever went on a diet because they loved their body! Do nice things for yourself – paint your nails, get a facial or a massage, have a hot bubble bath etc.
Why not use International No Diet Day as a place to get started in moving away from a diet mentality to find a healthy balance with food.