How Do I Stop Dieting and Eating Normally When Diets Are Everywhere?
Recently I drove past a strength training gym that I went to years ago. I love lifting weights when it’s taught properly and not pushing you beyond your comfort zone for the sake of trying to be bad ass. I entertain the idea of going back to it or similar places. But then I re-think it. Do I want to go there and hear chatter about getting ripped for summer, joining weight loss challenges, nonsense diet products being sold, or non-qualified people offering up nutrition advice (GASP 🙄) - a dietitian’s BIGGEST pet peeve.
It made me think how hard it is for those of us who want to ditch diets for good and not be a part of that world anymore. Whether you have an eating disorder or are so deep in disordered eating from chronic dieting, I recognize how difficult it is to cut the cord with the diet world. If you agree, then this blog post rant is for you!
SOCIAL MEDIA. OMG. I can’t stand seeing people selling weight loss diet “promises”, insane workout programs, before and after pictures, and Facebook groups where random people are offering advice on the latest trendy diet (Keto, yay! Ummm… no). It’s relentless. Thank goodness for the option to unfriend or if you don’t want to be rude, at least hide the posts. On Facebook you can even select the type of ads you no longer want to see. I do all of these. Yes, I do.
GYMS. Big box gyms, small boutique gyms…. you can just smell the diet-driven toxicity in the air. I love exercise. When you are recovering from an eating disorder or disordered eating, exercise takes on a completely new meaning. Not every person that walks through the door of a gym is hoping to lose weight. We all have different reasons to move our bodies. And when you're walking the line between intuitive eater and chronic dieter, gyms can be a tough environment sucking you back into the mindset that you have to “perfect” something.
RESTAURANTS. The chain restaurants are mandated to display calorie levels of menu items. I’m still not sure where I stand on this one. As a recovering disordered eater and former calorie-counting lunatic, I loved that I had better control while eating out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t choosing my meal based on what I really wanted to eat. I was choosing what was low enough in calories to keep me from “eating like a pig”. Ugh. Believe it or not, I do still use the calorie listings on menus at times but for a completely different reason. While looking at the menu I determine in my mind how hungry I am. If I’m ravenous and see a meal pretty low in calories then I know that’s not going to satisfy me. And if I’m really not feeling very hungry I’ll choose something on the lower calorie end because I’m just not hungry.
Restaurants and other food establishments that are considered “health food” will use a lot of diet language on their menus. Low-fat, keto, gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, low-carb, and on and on. YES, I do recognize gluten-free labels help those who truly cannot eat gluten. And vegan labels help those who choose to be vegan for moral reasons. But these labels also give customers an illusion of health. Just because a meal or food item is marked “keto” or “sugar-free” does NOT mean it’s an amazingly healthy food.
These are just a few places we are bombarded with diet messages. Gyms, social media, and restaurants are a huge part of most of our lives! It’s no wonder you may be struggling between learning how to embrace intuitive eating or trying just one more diet before you ditch diets for good. Our fat-phobic society is EVERYWHERE. At the doctor’s office (eh-hem, BMI charts and getting weighed when you have the flu), in magazines (lose 30 lbs in one month!), in your social circles (Oh Sue, you look fabulous! How did you lose the weight?)….
There is such an emphasis on weight loss everywhere. As far as the gym goes, personally I’m now at a place where my ears can shut down the noise of diet promotion and I’m not tempted by any of it. I recognize it for what it really is.
So I get it if you feel this pressure. The mixed messages. The second-guessing your own body. And so many of us don’t even realize there is another way. It’s not just DIET ON, DIET OFF. There is a place where you can shut off all of this noise and get to a place of peace with your own body. Where you can just laugh and say: You know what? I really feel no reason to need to change my body now… or ever.