If you obsess about food and find yourself emotional eating and binging and then feeling guilty, you aren’t to blame.
Here are my top 10 reasons why diets are in fact to blamed why you must stop dieting….
1. Diets focus on the food and not much else
I’m not sure whether you’ve realised this or not but food is not the enemy despite what you may have been brainwashed into believing through dieting. It’s not about the food (I’m a self confessed cake lover and despite my desire for carrot cake with frosting I often find myself very rarely finishing a piece now – I know when I’m satisfied and when I can stop). If your relationship with food is far from ‘balanced’ and ‘peaceful’ right now, the chances are your head is full of food thoughts and diet thoughts and you spend every minute of the day obsessing about this sh!t. Diets completely ignore everything else which makes us human….our desires, our needs, our passions, our pleasures, our emotions, our feelings and our stories. ALL of which are the drivers behind WHY you eat the way you do (it has little to do with what you eat)
2. Diets encourage you to obsess about food (especially the ‘bad’ food!) Stop dieting!
When have you ever been on a diet and spent all day long obsessing about salad?? Or obsessing about the taste of that fat free/carb free lunch?? Or obsessing about the bowl of low sugar fruit salad with fat free yoghurt for desert that evening?? Let’s get real ladies, you have more than likely spent all day obsessing about the cookies you can’t have, the taste of chocolate which you are so desperate for but it’s forbidden and the delight of having a muffin with your morning coffee but that’s not allowed either. No pleasure = no fun = no life. You’ve probably actually just spent ALL DAY thinking and obsessing about food, right?? The more you try and restrict what you are eating and the more you try and control what you can and can’t have (which is exactly what you do when you put yourself on a diet) the more you are likely to become a food obsessed, irritated & crazy (or crazier in some cases…!) version of yourself. I know I used to. Diets are the obsession, not the food
3. Diets are a guaranteed fast track way to an eventual binge
Imagine you’ve spent 2 weeks on the ‘X’ diet (insert the latest diet craze if you wish) and you’ve had your ups and downs but you’ve pushed through and feeling quite proud of yourself of having lived on ‘X’ for the last 2 weeks. (I remember feeling like that when I got into week 3 of Atkins after living on meat and cream for a fortnight, both things I’m actually not a fan of…!) THEN something happens. Your best friend comes around with some cake. Your husband wants to take you to the cinema where there will be popcorn on offer. You have a birthday party/celebration/dinner date and there will be all kinds of food which you’ve banned from the house for 2 weeks. What happens?? You convince yourself that a little taste will be OK (take a tiny bite from the bread basket…), then you decide a little more will be fine, you’ll finish that small piece of bread and you’ll be back to No-Carb eating……30 minutes later you’ve eaten all the bread basket, you’ve tucked into a WHOLE bowl of pasta, enough for the entire table and you’re now half way through the richest and largest portion of chocolate fudge cake complete with ice cream. It’s true isn’t it?? When you’ve deprived yourself from the things which actually do taste nice and have elements of bringing us please (ie bread, paste and chocolate cake!), it’s only natural that once you allow yourself to ‘taste some’ your mind and body go crazy….’OMG this tastes so good. I have no idea when I’ll next allow myself to have this so I best eat some more just incase….!’
The more you diet, the more you will binge. It’s a given. Guaranteed
4. Diets often create deprivation and restriction
As mentioned above, when we diet we significantly increase our chances of feeling deprived and at some point often feeling restricted. (I would argue with anyone who claims otherwise)
Deprivation causes us to feel left out, we aren’t a part of things anymore (saying ‘no’ to the birthday cake in the office, saying ‘no’ to the popcorn in the cinema, saying ‘no’ to the glass of wine with dinner) Restriction is the same, no human being on this planet wants to feel restricted in whatever way that might be for them. Sometimes life brings us restriction which is forced upon us, (can’t move house due to money, stuck in a job due to circumstance) but some things are easier to change and control than others. What you choose to put in your mouth IS in your control and you can change that feeling of restriction by changing what you et. It really is that simple.
5. Diets focus on weight and numbers and nothing to do with wellness, health or happiness
Right prepare for a slightly sarcastic and irate paragraph my lovely. Where did it come from that the idea of health = slimness?? Who said that ‘curvier’ people are unhealthy?? Who said that women who have lumps and bumps cannot be happy? Where is it written that states in order to be happy and healthy and content in life you must be slim and able to rock wearing a bikini with your flat tummy and toned thighs showing?? WHERE?!?!?! Yet society does very much believe (and therefore so do we as we have been brainwashed too) that slimness is the same as healthy. Yet that’s not true is it? Some people who are incredibly slim also struggle with their self worth and relationship with food and they are far from happy but because their ‘weight’ is in the OK range that’s fine (keep your eyes peeled for a future blog post and rant about my hatred for BMI and also my personal super-slim story) If we truly believe the foundations on which diets are formed that it’s all about what number you want and need to be and that is NOT the whole picture. Take these two examples:
A very slim women who smokes, doesn’t exercise, is currently unemployed and depressed as she’s at home all day and her husband is having an affair which she has just found out about
A normal women (who has cellulite, a ‘mummy tummy’ and a wobbly bottom!) who exercises regularly, drinks lots of water, has a job which she adores and a husband who thinks the world of her, she socialises several times a week with friends and finds herself feeling very blessed and grateful for her life.
Who is the healthiest?? Who is the happiest?? Who is in balance??
Dieting does not give you the key to the ‘happy life door ‘ yet far too often that’s what we buy into when we start such programs
6. Diets are not sustainable
I managed Atkins for 2.5 weeks and then I gave up and I gave up in style! I spent the following week eating everything anti-Atkins I could get my hands on which wasn’t pinned down. I couldn’t sustain any longer not eating bread, saying no to practically everything that my mum was cooking for the family at the time and always having to make excuses why I wasn’t eating at lunchtime with my friends (as the canteen didn’t cater for Atkins very well)
If anything isn’t sustainable and actually causes stress and difficulty, you will not stick to it. We all want life to be easy and we all have a right to have things as easy as possible. Eating shouldn’t be any different. If food and eating causes you stress right now then something isn’t right.
7. Diets put your life on hold, encouraging you to wait on the weight
It’s inevitable that when you are trying so hard to be ‘good’ and stay on a diet that there are many things you don’t and can’t do. Spontaneous coffee mornings, birthday lunches in the office, dinner dates with the other half to name but a few. Not only do they tempt you with the ‘naughty’ food on offer but you potentially would also feel left out and deprived if you went (see reasons 4 and 6 again for the explanation!)
I am a huge advocator that women need to stop waiting on their weight to create and have an amazing life so that of course includes dieting. If you are waiting until your skinny jeans fit you again and the diet works (you’ll be waiting a while by the way lovely lady as statistically diets only work for 0.1% of the population in the long term) until you start saying YES to the coffee mornings, dinner dates and birthday lunches, you’ll find yourself in a vicious cycle of dieting, falling off, binging, feeling guilty and starting a diet again. I did that for well over 10 years.
8. Diets completely ignore emotional hunger
I mentioned this in reason 1, the problem with a diet is not only do they only focus on food but they completely ignore something which happens to all of us, emotional hunger. You know what that is right? You fancy a biscuit with your coffee. You want popcorn at the cinema. You want some chocolate on the sofa with your other half watching a great movie and washing it down with a nice glass of red (I’ve just described to you my idea of a perfect evening but he way….!)
Food is emotional. We all have emotions and often memories and stories connected to food. Take away the food (through dieting) and what do you have?? An emotional void that is looking for a way to be filled. Now don’t get me wrong, this is slightly different to someone who is always emotionally eating as a way of pushing all the emotion inside her down and choosing to numb out. I’m referring to those moments when our desires for something pleasurable in the form of food, overrides our physical hunger and we desire something to eat. Diets don’t allow for this. They make us feel guilty for giving in. They make us feel shame for not ‘sticking’ to the rules.
I’ve learnt from experience by the way that when you embrace the fact that we all turn to food at some point for emotional support (emotional eating can perhaps never be completely ‘cured’) it gives you consent to eat in a different way. You eat without guilt. You eat with permission. You eat through choice. You eat feeling empowered.
You also bizarrely often don’t eat too because that’s OK as well! I sometimes have popcorn at the cinema and sometimes not. When I was food-obsessed I always had the largest popcorn at the cinema and ate it all. I would partly be enjoying the delicious warm and sweet taste but would also be terribly aware of the guilt bubbling up inside. Each mouthful wasn’t just popcorn, I was eating the guilt too.
Imagine that ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. It’s so liberating
9. Diets ignore your intuition
I teach my clients about intuition as it’s something which, particularly as women, we have a huge gift with. When we listen to ourselves or our bodies or our gut, we are in connection with the most valuable thing which we have, ourselves.
Diets teach us to not trust ourselves especially around food and without self-trust, you are heading towards a really dysfunctional relationship with food.
It goes like this:
Diet says: Drink water instead of eating as you probably aren’t hungry Your intuition says: No I am really hungry, I need food!!
Diet says: Have a diet soda in the afternoon to curb those sugar cravings
Your intuition says: I’d get so much satisfaction from one of those little italian biscuits right now
Diet says: You can’t eat after 6pm
Intuition says: Its 6.30pm and I’m starving, feed me, I’m hungry!
10. Diets reinforce a sense of failure, low self esteem and self worth
This is particularly close to my heart and I can remember in vivid detail the feeling of failure and guilt whenever I fell off the diet wagon (and I fell off them all by the way at some point). Part of me would feel so worthless that I had once again broken my diet even though another part of me was delighted that I was tucking into some chocolate on the sofa watching tv with my then-boyfriend. Over the years, as each diet attempt came and went, I truly started to believe it was me not being good enough, strong enough, able enough. It did nothing for my self worth and self esteem which where already at an all time low hence the reason for my need to control my food and my weight, I believed being a size 10 would be the answer and suddenly I would feel freakin’ amazing. Guess what though that never happened. Why? As each diet I embarked on helped to reinforce the opinions I had about myself when I couldn’t stick to the rules.
If you feel rubbish about yourself right now, if you don’t think you are good enough, able enough or focused enough I encourage you to STOP dieting and STOP controlling your food. This is adding to the problem
So there you go my lovely, my 10 reasons why you need to stop dieting if you are obsessed about your weight and food.
If you truly want to find freedom with food, stop all those obsessive thoughts about food, weight and eating in your head and actually start enjoying life to it’s fullest potential then I hope you take on board (and put into action!) the reasons above.
If you want to surround yourself with AMAZING women who are deliberately and intentionally breaking their diets rules whilst finding their freedom with food in the process, get yourself over to my private facebook community!