It's Not You; It's the DietJan 22, 2024
What does it mean to you? Is it eating grapefruit and drinking black coffee? Is it cabbage soup, low-fat, intermittent fasting, Keto or one of the other many diets on the market?
For many people it is a way of life, hopping from one diet to another and many people, like me up until last year, don’t believe there is another way.
I remember being at a spa day once.
Overhearing a group of women talking about their diets. One of them was allowed (notice the word allowed), three slices of chicken but no potatoes. One could have the potatoes but no meat. Another could only eat fruit on one day and vegetables on another and the final one could eat whatever she liked but only once a day.
They spoke like it was a punishment. It made me feel sad, frustrated and more than a little angry.
The many, many different diets on the market are created in good faith, often by experts, to help people lose weight and live healthier lives but for so many of us they do the opposite.
It's my belief that if you have ever dieted, you have unwittingly given away the control to your natural hunger levels.
Being on a diet has taught you to suppress your hunger levels and ignore the signals from your body. I never knew what my hunger levels were until starting this programme.
I knew starving and I knew stuffed.
But who knew?
There is a place in the middle of this called full.
I never ate to full. I only ever ate to stuffed. Now I know how to eat to full and I’ve lost 31lbs in weight.
The whole of my adult life I have been on a diet. My body has never chosen how much or what I needed to eat. The diet did.
You have learnt how to mistrust your body, to punish your body for wanting chocolate and instead to feed it lettuce.
Now food and your cravings control you. You learn to believe that food is the enemy, that your body works against you, that you can do nothing about it.
You learn to ignore the signals to eat, only eating what is prescribed by whatever diet plan you are following, forgetting that every body is different and every body needs different nutrients at different times.
In the end it is not sustainable, you stop losing weight or you get fed up with not being able to live your life as well as diet and you end up bingeing or giving up.
Then the self-loathing starts, and you look around for another diet plan to follow because you have reinforced your belief that you can’t stop putting on weight unless you are on a diet.
Here's something for you to consider.
You are not the problem; the diet is the problem.
Food isn’t the enemy, dieting is.
Unsustainable diets cause you to overeat, conflicting advice leaves you feeling confused and the many regimented rules and your now embedded belief that you can’t live without a diet infantilise you.
How could you ever rely on your body to help you choose what to eat and when?
Recently I was working with a high achieving, inspirational woman who was able to effect change and overcome obstacles in so many areas of her life. She was desperate to lose weight and was inspired by seeing others who had done so well on the programme.
She declared she would do anything to have the same results as them. When I explained to her that she would need to throw her diet out of the window and instead start an experiment to find out which foods worked best for her body she dissolved into tears.
How can I choose what to eat for myself, I can’t do that.
She was completely adamant that she was powerless to choose food for herself. The panic that she felt and overwhelm at the thought of allowing her body to dictate what she needs to eat and when was too much.
You need to challenge your long-held beliefs and it needs to so that you can be free of their hold.
Diet culture has turned us into infants. We have been conditioned to believe that we have no control over food, and we must rely on a diet to tell us exactly what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat.
We have been conditioned to believe that our bodies do not know best that we need (forgive the pun) to be spoon fed because we cannot do it for ourselves.
This is rubbish.
By changing our mindset.
By retraining our minds to work for us rather than against us.
By becoming self-aware, changing and modifying our habits and behaviours and examining and disputing a lot of what we have been told all our lives about dieting
One of the first things we need to learn is that to give up dieting, we must question everything about dieting we have taken onboard as rock solid belief and see it for the flawed logic it really is.
The beauty of this is that once we begin to see that this is learned behaviour and doesn’t make sense, we can start to dismantle it, and take back or build for the first time, as it was in my case, control of our relationship with food.
For example, have you ever starved yourself for weeks before a holiday so that you can eat what you like when you’re there?
Can you see when you look at it from a distance how illogical that is?
Have you ever said to yourself I’ll be good from Monday? Can you see how equating whether you are good or bad to what you eat doesn’t make sense?
It’s learned behaviour and we need to firstly root it out, all those things that you don’t even realise you’re saying to yourself and change it for behaviour and thoughts that are far more empowering.
This has worked for so many of us who felt we were at last chance saloon. The reason why this way is so successful when other ways have failed is because we are not just changing the food we eat and adding exercise, this is a radical rehaul of our mind.
Let’s consider the dreaded buffet table as an example.
So many dieters I talk to speak about the dreaded buffet table as a fearful monster. We cannot avoid the dreaded buffet table; we have no control over our eating when we see the dreaded buffet table.
The ex-dieters who work with me will tell you that they now see it as simply a table with food on and they will eat from it only what they want, the amount they want.
They have rewritten their thoughts about buffets, they prefer not to feel out of control and bloated.
The buffet is no longer a thing of fear. It’s just a table with food on it.
We can change our behaviour around buffets using reconditioning and embedding of new thoughts around food.
It’s not easy, but it is simple and straightforward and if we can do it, you can too.
The programme we use works because it has been developed by a life-long dieter assisted by a group of other life-long dieters who have suffered all the same pitfalls as you and know what is needed to get you to a place where you have a healthy relationship with food.
By giving up dieting we found the food noise disappears. We have discovered that a lot of the cravings and deep need to eat comes from wanting the forbidden fruit on a diet and once you know you can have anything you want, the noise goes away.
You are no longer obsessed with food and can spend your time doing something far more useful.
I’d love to know what you will do with all the time you'll free up not obsessing about food?
Let me know.
Julie Bale is a Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist and creator of The Real Me - How to Give Up Dieting to Lose Weight Programmes. Her book The Real Me Isn't Fat will be published in June 2024. Her programmes can be found at therealmemindtraining.com
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