Diet culture is sneaky.
The ‘wellness’ industry has seen to that. For some time now the fact that diets don’t work has been in the public realm. That’s why dieting companies have changed tack and now talk about ‘lifestyle changes’ and ‘wellness’.
New food rules appear in the name of ‘health’.
Things like having eating ‘windows’ outside of which you don’t eat (whether you’re hungry or not) and keeping track of your consumption of types of foods. Here’s another example – keeping only dark chocolate as your confectionery staple in the house – because you don’t mind it and it seems to satisfy your sweet tooth (plus, if you’re being honest with yourself, you know you can only eat so much of it so you’re not scared you’ll eat ‘too much’ of it – whatever that means).
Play the detective…
Here are some questions you can ask yourself about both what, when and how much you’re eating and exercising, to sniff out if you’re dieting under the radar:
1. Can I do this long term?
Anything with rules is hard to follow forever. Ask yourself if it’s really and truly sustainable. Are you always needing to be (even slightly) on the look out? Do you ever catch yourself saying you’ll ‘get back to this way of eating’ tomorrow, or next week, or after the holiday?
2. Is there a way to do this ‘right’ or perfectly?
Do you ever feel guilty for eating things? If you do, it’s likely that you’re striving to be eating a certain way.
3. If this behaviour was guaranteed to be neutral on my weight would I be doing it?
This is the most crucial question to ask yourself. If the behaviour, or not doing the behaviour had absolutely no impact on your weight, would you still be doing it?
Are you only doing it because you believe the behaviour will move the needle on the scale down, or at least, keep it from going up?
Whatever you discover – be kind to yourself. We’re all swimming in the diet culture soup and sometimes it’s hard to really know that our behaviours are diet behaviours in disguise.
If you’re working towards Intuitive Eating
then the goal is to eat whatever you feel like eating, with attunement to your body’s signals and needs. This changes, moment to moment, day to day. Some days dark chocolate hits the spot. Other days it’s a doughnut. Some days it’s a thick vegetable soup. Other days it’s sausages and mash.
With Intuitive Eating, we work towards a greater connection with what is going on inside of us now and pay way less attention to the messages from outside that are vying for our attention.