I arrive at my GPs office and announce, “I have three health problems that are not real, and one issue that I think might be real…” My GP kindly giggles with me, because he knows, and I know, that my brain is in the habit of making up problems.
I have a generalised anxiety disorder (ugh!), but it hasn’t quite pulled the wool over my eyes completely.
So my doctor and I go through my pretend problems first and he congratulates me on knowing that they are pretend problems that the anxiety disorder has created. Apparently he has patients with an anxiety disorder that can’t tell the difference between real problems and pretend problems. I feel sad for them. But then sharply gulp, as I realise if I’d let this anxiety disorder go further that could have been me too… totally believing that I had an undiagnosed terminal illness every second day.
So when it comes to foods, and diets and healthy eating – I’d have thought I was pretty on top of what is rubbish and what is real. After all I’m a registered nutritionist with more university degrees under her belt than the average adult. So it’d be an understatement to say that it took me by surprise when I first discovered non-diet eating philosophies such as intuitive eating.
Why? Well, because it finally meant I had to face up to the fact that I was a “restrictive eater”. I’d heard of this classification. I’d read about them in many, many studies. And for years (okay, I’m lying, decades), I’d studiously avoided ever running the analyses on myself to discover whether that inkling in the back of my brain was correct – that I was a restrictive eater.
Once I discovered intuitive eating and started reading the book by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, I didn’t need to run any tests on myself. I could see myself in all my restrictive glory – body checking the fat wings on my upper arm, checking my weight on the scales every day or two, checking the fit of my clothes around my waist, avoiding sweet foods if I knew I’d exceeded my mental tally for the week.
I was a restrictive eater, even though I wanted to pretend I was a natural, non-dieter.
I knew exactly how to restrict my food to ensure I stayed in my target weight range, give or take 1-2kg. I felt organised, healthy and in control (except when a bag of potato crisps or sweets were in the pantry, then I’d get really, rather anxious).
Most women think if they’re not currently “on a diet” then they’re not “dieting” per se, but rather are just a ‘healthy eater’. I certainly didn’t think of myself as a dieter, because I wasn’t “on a diet”. But what I was doing, was following lots of rigid food and exercise rules.
Lots of us are following food and exercise rules every day, while actively thinking we’re not “on a diet”.
But here’s the thing, if you’re following black and white food rules, have rigidity around food, and food-guilt, and exercise rules, and more stuff like that – you’re actually following the food rules that are part of #dietculture and in effect, you are “on a diet”.
And what the good science shows us is, that those who follow rigid diets are less likely to maintain their health and wellbeing long-term, as compared to those who take a non-diet approach to healthy living (i.e. intuitive eating).
So how do you know if you’re following #dietculture, even if you think you’re not a dieter? Well, take a look at these 9 signs of #dietculture and their simple (diet-free) alternatives:
Okay the hippy part is definitely optional. But if you’d love to life a life of food-freedom, of guilt-free eating, of confident healthy living, then non-diet eating could well and truly be your solution.
So go ahead and save the infographic above to your Pinterest board. Make it a goal to shift yourself from #dietculture to non-diet living where you’re focused on your entire wellbeing, rather than just what the scales say. Because weight isn’t an accurate measure of good health and wellbeing.
Remember, you are a whole person, not just a number on the scale.
Remember too, that all good things take time (like making cheese, for example, num-num-num!). Transforming yourself from surviving under #dietculture to thriving and enjoying the freedom of non-diet living is worth it though. Freedom, for starters… good health and happiness, for seconds. I could go on… and on.
P.S. Wanna know more about how to start changing? Grab my freebie below to get started: