The number one biggest issue that most of us have when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off for good is that we are stuck in a Diet Culture Mindset; constant deprivation, restriction, and then the inevitable pendulum swing....
This mindset was created by the billion dollar Diet Industry (no surprise there) to keep us buying products that will take us to the "promise land" of weight loss. The problem is, this mindset keeps us stuck in the suffering with food and keeps us yo-yo'ing up and down with our weight.
I'm sure you know by now that dieting does NOT work for long-term sustainable weight loss.
In fact, dieting messes with the metabolism so much, it almost makes it impossible to keep the weight off when we go back to eating without all the crazy restriction. If you have to be on a diet to maintain a certain weight, then that's not the right weight for you. Check out this study done on Biggest Loser Participants confirming this.
In my most recent live workshop, I shared my 5-step framework on How to Ditch The Diet Mindset. I am sharing it here with you so that you can have the very same framework that I use with my private clients and inside my Empowered Eaters club.
I want you to be able to understand how you can immediately start to shift out of diet mindset into a more empowering way of being with food and weight loss.
If you have to be on a diet to maintain a certain weight, then that's not the right weight for you.
Step one: discover Your Food history
Knowing your food history is a big component in healing your issues with food and yo-yo dieting. If you are someone who has been struggling with weight issues since you were a child, or found yourself using food for comfort, then it's important to look back and understand why.
Many of us take in the information that is being modeled to us from our parents and turn them into our truths. We also take in information we hear from other people, especially our peers. One of my coaching clients shared with me that when she was 7, she climbed a tree, and the boy down below told her that her legs were fat.
From that day forward, at a very young age, she formed the belief that something was wrong with her, and so she started to turn to food for comfort. There are millions of instances like this that happen when we are young.
I was constantly made fun of for being flat-chested and having a big butt. These things stuck with me and started my crazy, obsessive 30+ year journey with food and skewed body image.
So, in order to truly understand why you struggle so much, it's important that you take some time to discover your Food History, which is where your beliefs about food, and even your weight started.
ACTION: With a journal, sit down for 30 minutes and write out all the messages you got about food and your body from a very young age, through where you currently are with food. Include what you saw your parents do or say around food and their weight. Did they diet a lot? Did your mom say she was fat? Or was always trying to lose those last 10-15 pounds? Put it ALL on paper! This is a very eye-opening and cathartic process, so allow yourself the full 30 minutes.
step two: Identify your food rules
We all have rules around food. Sadly, that's a by-product of Diet Mindset. We hear "experts" sharing their two cents on what is good and bad, or what we should or shouldn't eat based on the current diet trends.
The problem with that is we are all so different as human beings. No one way of eating could ever work for every person. This is where the diet and health industry is extremely flawed.
Look, I've been a vegan/vegetarian most of my life because that is what works for me. It changed my life and helped me heal from many childhood illnesses, but that doesn't mean everyone should eat that way. It also doens't mean that I will be that forever. What I have learned is that I need to be flexible based on what my body needs.
The things we hear about food are detrimental to our physical, mental and emotional health. Food is what we need to survive, and with all the emphasis we put on how to eat, takes away the sheer pleasure of eating. I know that many of us understand on a basic level what foods are nourishing and what foods aren't, yet we are still confused. Your body is actually the one source that will tell all, if you really listen.
ACTION: For the next two days, I want you to notice all the things you say about food to yourself or others. What are your inner thoughts about food when you go to eat it? Do you label foods good or bad? Healthy or unhealthy? How do you feel about what you are eating? Do you feel bad if you eat a donut? Do you berate yourself for going off your diet? Do you tell yourself, "What's the point?" if you mess up?
Take time to write down all these thoughts either in a journal or your phone. After two days, see if you notice any themes. Also take note of how you feel about this process. This will give you great insight in to just how much you think about food and feel bad about choices you make.
step three: hone in on hidden hungers
My definition of hidden hungers is, all the reasons we eat other than actual physical hunger. I used to eat for all sorts of reasons; loneliness, stress, sadness, fear, discomfort, you name it, I ate for it.
I had a lot of hidden hungers, but mostly it was because I felt alone. I ate to ease my loneliness. Food was safe for me. It was like a friend I could always rely on to be there to comfort me. It never talked back or turned it's back on me, like many humans had in my lifetime.
What I learned through my journey of healing my food issues, was that these hidden hungers, kept me stuck in a vicious cycle with food. I would overeat, and even though I felt good while I was doing it, I ALWAYS regretted it and hated myself after. This resulted in me putting on about 30 pounds of weight that my body didn't need. IT also resulted in my ingesting thousands of calories my body didn't need.
How do I know this? Because once I healed my relationship with food, I went down to my natural weight and have stayed there for over 7 years now.
ACTION: To hone in on your hidden hungers, sit down for 10 minutes, and in a journal write out all the reasons you eat other than physical hunger. Even go as far as writing down all the times you eat throughout the day without being physically hungry. Write how you feel when you are eating, and what you are looking to get from the food. This will give you insight into how often you eat when you do not have physical hunger.
I go much deeper into this process, and what to do with these Hidden Hungers in my Empowered Eaters Club so you can transform them once and for all.
step four: Pinpoint limiting beliefs
This step directly ties in with Step 1 + 2. Once you understand your food history and all the rules you have create around food, then you can start to look at your deeper beliefs about food, your body and yourself, in general.
Most of what drives overeating, emotional eating and binge eating is a deeper belief that you are broken, or flawed, or not good enough. That is the reason why so many of us self-sabotage. Self-sabotage doesn't just happen, it's the result of a faulty belief system.
One thing I know for sure is that beliefs are just beliefs, they are not truths. Good news here, because that means they can be altered and you can create NEW beliefs, just like you can transform your mindset around dieting.
One thing I know for sure is that beliefs are just beliefs, they are not truths.
ACTION: In order to know what your limiting beliefs are, go back to your food history and your food rules. Look at the themes you noticed. Sit down and write out all the deeper beliefs you can extract from what you see there.
For example, I created food rules, because my deeper belief was that if I was overweight, no one would love me. So, these rules were crafted from a deeper belief about my body image and not feeling good enough. This original belief came from watching my father and brother's fantasize over the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue year after year at a very young age.
I took this information in and made up the faulty belief that if I didn't look like a model I woudln't be loved or get attention. It wasn't anyone's fault, but as a child this is what I took in. So, I went on a mission to have the perfect body which resulted in YEARS of suffering.
step five: upgrade + redirect
This final step in the 5-Step Ditch the Diet Mindset will actually help you create new, more supportive beliefs, which will, in turn, help you reprogram your brain and result in more sustainable, healthier habits.
As I mentioned above, beliefs are NOT truths. You have the power to change them. It will feel hard at first, because to be honest, they have been a source of comfort for years, even though they create suffering.
Most people don't understand how powerful these limiting beliefs are in their present-day lives, and how they are directly linked to why and how we sabotage ourselves, especially with weight loss and food.
ACTION: To complete this 5-step process, take the sheet of paper where you wrote your limiting beliefs. Go down the list and next to each one, I want you to write an upgraded belief that is more realistic and true. Note: this will feel really uncomfortable because you WILL NOT buy into the new belief just yet. All you have to do is make sure it's 50% believable.
Here is an example from my own limiting beliefs:
- Limiting Belief: No one will love me if I am fat.
- Upgraded Belief: Love is not determined by my body size. I am lovable exactly as I am right now.
Take about 20 minutes to go through this process. Once you have all of your upgraded beliefs, write them out on a separate sheet of paper, or put them in the NOTES in your phone and read them daily. Whenever you catch your mind wandering to a judgement about yourself, or self-criticism, identify that belief and redirect it with a more upgraded version in the moment.
Do this over and over and eventually you will create a new brain groove, with a much better belief system intact and you won't even think about dieting ever again!
Following these steps will help you Ditch The Diet Mindset for good. And as I mentioned above, I take a MUCH deeper dive into this content inside my Food Freedom Mastery 12-week Program that is open now for enrollment. If you want to learn more about it, click here.
Let me know how it went for you! Comment below or post in my Private Food Freedom Breakthrough Group (click image below to join)
Much Love, Melissa