Most of the health blogs out there will tell you the only way to lose weight is to follow their diet and exercise plans. But is that really true?
And, if it is, will adhering to their guidelines actually give you any results you care about?
The truth is, no, diets do NOT work. Somewhere around 97% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain every pound they lost within 3 years. That’s almost a 100% failure rate! Yet somehow, the diet industry continues to thrive.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for that to change.
I think it’s about time we start saying a big “absolutely not” to the crazy-making, life-stealing habit of dieting. But with so much mixed messaging about nutrition and exercise, how can we find clarity?
After setting out to answer that question for myself years ago, I found the answer in intuitive eating. And it completely changed my life.
Making this one change has had a ripple effect throughout my life, and I’ve seen it do the same for countless other people. If you’re wondering if it’s possible for you to find peace and happiness outside of dieting, read on!
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1. BETTER RELATIONSHIPS
Have you ever noticed that social gatherings tend to revolve around food? Whether you’re meeting a friend for lunch or attending a big holiday celebration for your family, food is typically a central component.
Before I started eating intuitively, social situations prompted loads of stress – What if there wasn’t anything I could eat on the menu? Would people judge me for grilling the waiter about the ingredients in the salad dressing?
I also found it incredibly difficult to enjoy the company of the person in front of me because I was always stuck in my head. I was looking to see how much food they had eaten from their plate in comparison to mine. I was busy worrying about whether the food I ate was going to give me a stomach ache or make me feel bloated or cause me to gain weight.
In the meantime, I missed out on opportunities to connect with people, to build friendships, to learn about what was going on in others’ lives, and to be present.
Those interactions have come and gone, and there’s no way for me to go back and change them. Looking back, I now realize I was doing both myself and others a great disservice.
When you ditch the diet mentality and begin listening to your body, social situations become much less about food and more about genuine connection. You’ll no longer feel the need to compare your menu choice to someone else’s, worry about upsetting the waiter with your long list of questions, or agonize about the potential consequences of your next bite of food.
The best part: Intuitive eating will transform your relationships with other women because you’ll no longer view them as your competition. The world tends to pit us against each other by making us believe we’re not worthy unless we’re thinner, prettier, or more successful than the woman next to us. But intuitive eating teaches you to view yourself and the women in your life as uniquely beautiful and worthy, exactly as you are.
2. IMPROVED DIGESTION
If you couldn’t already tell, diets have a way of piling on stress and anxiety. Dieting can induce fear over certain foods, and those fears can go on to affect your body’s physiological processes.
Food anxiety perpetuates a self-fulfilling prophecy – it goes something like this:
- You’re afraid a certain type of food will cause digestive discomfort.
- That fear manifests itself as physical tension within your body.
- You experience digestive symptoms during or following meals.
And then you blame the food, justifying even more restrictions!
Sadly, the stress involved in this cycle is likely to reverse any potential nutritional benefits you’re aiming for by “eating clean.” Stress has severe health consequences for your whole body, not just for your mind.
Intuitive eating helps you break the habit of being fearful or stressed out around food. And the elimination of stress has compounding effects. After a while, I started noticing benefits in the forms of better digestion, better sleep, and clearer skin.
3. NEW PRIORITIES
Before I discovered intuitive eating, thoughts about food, exercise, and changing my body consumed about 80% of my thoughts. When I started to eat intuitively, all of this mental time and energy began to free up.
At first, when this started happening, I genuinely didn’t know what to do with myself. It was startling to realize how much of my attention I had been allocating to my body’s appearance.
In those uncomfortable moments, when I was unsure of what to do instead of going to the gym or planning out another week of regimented meals, I started to ask myself deeper questions about what I was created for. I began to explore the things I was interested in and devote more time to my relationships. I started writing again, something I had loved doing before the dawn of my disordered eating behaviors.
Intuitive eating gives you the space and courage to ask yourself “why?” Why do you feel the need for your body to look a certain way? Why do you think it will make me happier, and will it actually?
The answers I found to these questions helped me see that I had used the pursuit of a thin body as a distraction from pursuing the things that were more important and sometimes more difficult. For the most part, the reasons I had for dieting were rooted in other people’s approval of me or the need to feel a sense of control over my life.
I used to think the only way I could ever be happy with myself was to match the world’s idea of beauty, and I couldn’t pursue bigger dreams and goals until that was a reality. I now know I can genuinely love the person I am today, and that has given me the security and confidence to go after anything I put my mind to.
What could you do with the time you’ve devoted to obsessing over your body?
4. MORE COMPASSION
One of the most difficult parts about recovering from disordered eating is living in a culture that encourages dieting. Just because you decide to break free from dieting doesn’t necessarily mean the people around you will hop aboard the same train.
We all witness signs of diet culture from strangers and loved ones every day.
“I hate my love handles,” says the stranger on the street.
“I really want to lose 5 pounds,” says a well-meaning friend.
“I want the lasagna, but I really should order the garden salad,” says a family member.
Add in the countless messages being pushed by the media, and you may start to feel like the whole world is against your efforts. It’s easy to become discouraged in the face of so much opposition.
But then, you remember it wasn’t so long ago that you were subscribing to the same mentality as most people around you. You also remember how hard it was to start thinking differently.
So, instead of getting frustrated when someone makes a negative comment about herself, you remember how it felt to be in her shoes. You remember how it still feels some days.
Intuitive eating teaches you to view yourself in an entirely different way, and this new perspective extends to the people around you. It’ll shock you when you start to realize how automatic it is for the beautiful people around you to find something they despise about themselves.
Putting an end to dieting in your own life allows you to extend compassion to people who are still committed to dieting. Your example will be more powerful than you may ever know! We all need to be reminded of our beauty and dignity when we forget, and you can be the person who offers that to others.
The biggest thing intuitive eating has done for me is that it has given me the freedom to be myself. I no longer feel like I’m chasing after some unattainable version of me. I feel like I am me, and that’s more than enough.
The number on the scale or what I look like in a swimsuit are thoughts that rarely pass through my mind anymore. Thanks to intuitive eating, my relationship with food is the best it’s ever been, and so is my relationship with myself.
I believe this freedom is possible for anyone who seeks it wholeheartedly.
While it can be scary to release yourself from dieting, the benefits are more than worth it.