First steps to break the dieting cycle

I’m often asked by clients how to start Intuitive Eating and break the yo-yo dieting cycle. Learning how to eat intuitively after potentially years of dieting and multiple weight-loss attempts is a journey and today I hope to share with you how you can take the first step on your intuitive eating journey. I promise you won’t look back!

Intuitive Eating is an evidence-based approach to health and wellness. During your Intuitive eating journey you will let go of the misconception that foods are good or bad, remove any guilt you might attach to certain foods, learn to trust in your body, tune into what it is telling you and ultimately stop the binge-restrict cycle for good. You begin to rely on your internal body signals and wisdom which you will find again (i.e. hunger, fullness and satisfaction) rather than external rules that diet culture dictates (I.e. when, what and how much to eat etc). There is no right or wrong way when starting to eat intuitively; a stark contrast to dieting which can cause you to beat yourself up! With intuitive eating you can’t fail, you only gain more information. That said intuitive eating doesn’t work if you’re actively pursuing intentional weight loss. Do you feel ready to finally let go of the dieting reigns and find happiness and peace with food? Below are some steps you might want to take to start your journey. Be kind to yourself, go at your own pace and know you can do this and are deserving of a life that isn’t governed by a number on the scale.

Stop trying to control your weight

Evidence shows 95% of diets fail and repeated cycles of weight loss and weight regain often instil feelings of guilt, shame and failure. “Why do I not have enough willpower”? “Why can’t I do it”? What if I told you your body is working to bring you back to your old weight and it has nothing to do with your willpower?

 

Why? Because of the setpoint weight theory. The set-point weight theory suggests we all have a genetically predetermined weight, a weight our body works very hard to maintain (usually within a range of 4-5kgs) to function at its optimum to and keep us alive. When we’re not swinging between sweet heaven (i.e. being bad), and diet land (i.e. being good), and we stop micromanaging our food our weight (if left alone) will settle at its natural set point.

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Honour your biological hunger

If you have spent a long time with your dieting hat on you will have learnt to ignore your hunger cues, something dieting culture actively encourages. Take a moment to reflect what you have experienced when trying to ignore your hunger cues? Do foods consume your every thought and do you find yourself faceplanting into a plate of buttery toast or fresh cream doughnut? Listening to your body is a good thing, it stops you peeing yourself in public!  Listening and tuning into your hunger cues allows you to rebuild trust with your body.

 

How can you start to honour your hunger:
1) Raise your awareness: The first step is really tuning in to yourself, both physically and emotionally. Check in with yourself often, on a scale of one to 10, how hungry are you?
a. What does hunger actually feel like?: e.g. uncomfortable feeling in the stomach, feeling empty, headaches, difficulty concentrating or growling noises.
b. Thinks satisfaction: what do you really want to eat, is it something fresh and juicy like a piece of fruit or do you want something savoury?

 

Don’t forget about emotional hunger. Emotional hunger might be driven by a specific food craving, can be impulsive whereas stomach hunger is gradual and can be satisfied with eating anything, not a specific food. If you recognise you often eat even when you are not hungry you can explore this within Intuitive eating

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat

When we restrict ourselves from eating the “bad” foods this will ultimately lead to feelings of deprivation, which over time build up and eventually drive us to a bingeing episode. Then comes the onslaught of negative beliefs and feelings of guilt which sooner or later lead us to embark on another diet to be “good”. Sound familiar?

 

If you want to break this cycle, stop restricting foods in the first place and give yourself permission to eat ALL foods. Remove labels, stop thinking of foods as good or bad.. food is not morally good or bad. Food is just food! This might feel really uncomfortable so consider working with an intuitive eating counsellor/dietitian for support.

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Detox your social media feeds

Unsubscribe from toxic dieting culture. Dieting cultures tells us what, when and how much we should eat. With social media being a visual platform, the emphasis on health is typically tied to weight and “Influencers” now use social media platforms to regularly showcase a snapshot of their lives (normally the “perfect side”) including what they eat. This perpetuates the false notion that a person’s health is inextricably tied to their appearance and we interpret that as how we eat is one way to achieve a desirable appearance.  We all too easily forget we are so much more than our appearance and all our achievements become overshadowed by our desire to conform to what social media dictates as “the ideal”

 

If you want to move away from dieting, reframe what you want as your end goal. What would a “healthy relationship with food” look like to you? Does it mean not beating yourself for eating that slice of cake, being able to go out with friends and choose whatever you want from the menu or does it mean eating regularly when you feel hungry?

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If you are feeling excited but equally unsure if you can do this then Contact me  for a free discovery call and we can explore this in a little more detail before you decide what is the next best step for you

 

Alternatively click here to read more on why Why dieting doesn’t work and why it is not your fault

 

 

more resources.

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