So you try yet another diet. At the start, your motivation is high but soon you hit a roadblock—you don’t lose weight as quickly as you thought you would, you miss going out for drinks with your friends, you get too busy at work to exercise, meal prep begins to feel too hard—and your motivation starts to dwindle. With each new diet attempt, your ability to sustain motivation gets smaller.
That’s because each time you try to lose weight on a diet, it’s harder and harder. The weight is more stubborn; your body is more reluctant to let the fat go, and your willpower diminishes with each new attempt.
So instead of losing weight and keeping it off, each time you try another diet, you end up losing willpower, and then you regain more weight than you lost in the first place. Over time, your relationship with food gets worse and worse, and your weight goes up and up.
It’s not your fault. Diets set you up for failure. The good news is that once you become aware of diets in disguise and decide you’re ready to live a truly diet-free life, without restriction, counting calories or clean eating, you can learn how to keep it real, stop obsessing and never be a victim of diets again.
The first step is to ditch those pesky dieting rules that keep you stuck in the emotional-eating, food-guilt and body-hate cycle. To do this, you need to become aware of all the food rules you currently subscribe to.
Are you on a diet in disguise?
You might not be aware of the extent to which your eating is dictated by dieting rules. Try this simple exercise: photocopy the worksheet on the facing page and fill in the answers, then consider the following questions.
For each diet rule you ticked, ask yourself:
Do I feel guilty when I don’t do this behaviour?
When I break this diet rule, do I feel bad about myself or feel guilty?
Does this behaviour cause me to think about food more? Does it make me feel obsessed with food?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then this diet rule is most certainly a diet in disguise.
Like getting over an ex, the less time you spend thinking about it, the easier it is. Dieting rules often make you think about food more, which does not help you eat less or more nutritiously.
From now on, notice when you start to ask yourself: ‘Am I allowed to eat this?’ Asking this questions is a symptom of being stuck in the diet mentality. Because of course you’re allowed to eat it. The more important question is: do you want to eat it? How will eating it make you feel? Food must be a choice, not feel like a prison sentence.
Changing the question to, ‘I am allowed to eat that, but do I really want to?’ is the key. The distinctions are subtle, but can make an oh-so-significant difference.