Episode #: 68. Reject the Diet Mentality
The first exercise I did this week was to look at what I typically do and what I say to myself when I am struggling with eating. I wrote that I tend to get deeply involved with whatever new diet or eating style I am trying out. I buy all the books, look up all the recipes, buy all the paraphernalia like the journals and card decks. I’m on its website constantly and join all the Facebook groups. I plan, I track, I cook, I shop, I do it all. Then of course, that rebel in me shows itself or I find that it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle. I start bargaining and hedging and trying to make it fit. I always tended to see that it was my fault that it didn’t work but in my old age, I am seeing that some of these diets and plans might have meant well, but had a piece of the puzzle missing.
In this week's episode hear about this exercise and others, based in self-compassion and forgiveness. There is nothing to be gained from hating yourself and your decisions about what you eat. Once you let go of dieting mentality and the long lists of food you can or cannot eat, there is no sense of straying and therefore no sense of shame and guilt. I teach you and my clients about letting go of negative self-talk, so the first section of this lesson, entitled “Self-Compassion Exercises” was something I enjoyed working on.
Listen to this episode to see how you can get started on letting go of the diet mentality and work with this week's Actionable Coaching Advice to see how your own dieting history plays out with letting go of diet mentality.
Episode #: 68. Reject the Diet Mentality
You’re Listening to the Keto and Low Carb Success podcast, Episode #68, Reject the Diet Mentality.
Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Conquer Cravings with Keto, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl!
Be sure to go to miriamhatoum.com/resources to get all the free guides to help you along the way. I am in your shoes, my friends, and I wrote these guides for both of us. The link is in the show notes and transcripts.
Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast and the course is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or service, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!
Starting the Journey… for REAL
This week I am starting the journey for real. I did some thoughtful prep work last week with my Handwriting Metaphor Activity, but this week I jump in with both feet into Principle 1 – Reject the Diet Mentality. Not accepting this – or working on it – was probably the single most prominent reason I failed with Intuitive Eating years ago, even when I worked with therapists trained in the method.
Not only did I not accept it, but since that time in 2012, I had gone on to do at least 15 more diets including every single rendition of Weight Watchers. I learned about Keto and turned my world upside down with that – which I don’t regret because it taught me a lot about how my body works and reacts to certain foods. Without it I wouldn’t have my book, courses, website and this podcast! At least it was an extremely productive bump in the road! I work with wonderful people, have made life-long friends, and was educated beyond my wildest dreams.
What I am having some difficulty in letting go of is accepting that even eating styles and “way of life” diets are diets. They all have their dogma, rules, beliefs, and convictions. I will speak to Keto.
What I learned with Keto is that food is a signal to your hormones. Food provides the nutrients we need to maintain healthy body systems, including the production, metabolism and detoxification of hormones. Therefore, if we don’t get enough of the right nutritious foods, our hormone balance can suffer. When people are sensitive to some foods, such as carbohydrates, this balance will be thrown off, accounting for, among other things changes in your insulin, the master hormone, which affects downstream hormones. My own fasting insulin went from a dangerous and incredible level of almost 50 to the more normal range of about 10 (which is still considered high). My blood sugar levels stabilized, and I lost weight.
So, in terms of dogma, rules, beliefs and convictions, we have that you must not eat grains or legumes, sugar or anything with sugar because these foods are high in carbohydrates which will cause various damage with regard to blood sugar. They also have secondary issues with regard inflammation, phytic acid, and leaky gut. Keto is not wrong, but it is dogma and diet mentality.
You can take any eating style – from Mediterranean to Vegan – from Clean Eating to Paleo – to and make a list of their rules, dogma, beliefs, and convictions. You will see that although they are eating “lifestyles” they are still part of the diet mentality viewpoint. Even if these ways of eating provide nutritious foods or provide political or religious comfort – they are still part of the diet mentality if, when you eat something outside the set of rules – you feel guilt, regret or shame.
I don’t think that if you are totally at peace with these ways of eating you must abandon them. It is when you assign a moral score to the food doctrine that they become a problem. You are not good or bad based upon what you are eating. But, I don’t think it is that easy to shake the negative feelings and self-talk when you are, say, following Keto and you eat a piece of cake and feel you are bad and that you have to start over again or that you will never be able to start over again and so then you are on to the next diet that might be easier.
It is when YOU assign the title of DIET to a way of eating as a way to lose weight, that you will find yourself playing the shame game if you eat – or desire to eat – what is not on the list of “yes” foods.
I have said all this because I am not badmouthing any way of eating – based on nutrition, politics, culture or religion – I am just pointing out that you can make anything into a diet to lose weight – even Intuitive Eating. It is when your eating decisions are dictated by diet rules and when those diet rules trigger an inner rebellion, that you have be ready to reject that diet mentality if you truly want peace with food.
Now on to Principle 1 – Reject Diet Mentality.
In the workbook they say, “Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
They go on to say, “The diet industry is the only business that produces a product that doesn’t work but is not blamed for this failure – the consumers blame themselves. Many people are aware that dieting doesn’t work in the long run but most are surprised to learn that dieting actually increases your risk for gaining even more weight.”
In my book and courses, I talk a lot about self-compassion and forgiveness. There is nothing to be gained from hating yourself and your decisions about what you eat. This is another why Intuitive Eating is so perfect. Once you let go of dieting mentality and the long lists of food you can or cannot eat, there is no sense of straying and therefore no sense of shame and guilt. I try to teach you and my clients about letting go of negative self-talk, so this first section entitled “Self-Compassion Exercises” was something I enjoyed working on.
The first exercise was to look at what I typically do and what I say to myself when I am struggling with eating. I wrote that I tend to get deeply involved with whatever new diet or eating style I am trying out. I buy all the books, look up all the recipes, buy all the paraphernalia like the journals and card decks. I’m on its website constantly and join all the Facebook groups. I plan, I track, I cook, I shop, I do it all. Then of course, that rebel in me shows itself or I find that it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle. I start bargaining and hedging and trying to make it fit. I always tended to see that it was my fault that it didn’t work but in my old age, I am seeing that some of these diets and plans might have meant well, but had a piece of the puzzle missing.
The next exercise is something I have all my clients do – and if you have visited my website or listened to the podcast, I have asked you to do it also. It is to have you talk to a dear friend or loved one who is struggling. What would you say? Would you be tender? Would you be kind? My answer was, “Let’s take a look at this. What would fit your lifestyle and preferences? If one way isn’t right for you, let’s find something that is.” Much better than, “You stupid idiot. Why can’t you figure it out yet?”
The next one does ask what the difference would be between talking to this friend and talking to yourself. My answer here was, “I feel I should know better – there’s that knowledge again. I’m the expert dieter. I feel I can help a friend but for some reason I can’t help myself.” So, I am kinder and more patient with a friend than I am with myself. Plus, I have these expert dieter expectations playing like monkeys in my brain.
Next, I am asked how things might change if I respond kindly to myself. I answered, “If I give myself more latitude, I would be more open to finding what works for me. Maybe I need different music.” I have come to believe that the different music is Intuitive Eating instead of dieting.
The next question asks if I use self-criticism or self-bullying as motivators. I answered that, “I criticize myself for eating too much pizza (I wrote this after a pizza party). I didn’t eat till full, though. But I noticed that worrying in advance about the food took away from looking forward to the party. Fear and criticism rob joy.”
The last question in this Compassion Exercise was “What compassionate words or phrases could you use to replace the inner bully?” I answered, “Miriam, dear, enjoy the party. Enjoy the food. Stop thinking about dieting and especially stop thinking about what other people think of you. Their opinion of your is none of your business.”
This last issue is covered in Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police. Sometimes you can be your own worst policeman, but in my case, being a Keto coach and author, the outside food police are plenty, believe me. Even to eat pizza in front of anyone – let alone how much – was an incredibly difficult thing for me to do – not because of my own policing but because of the outside food police. I can’t wait till I get to that principle and do the work. I think that might be as freeing as letting go of diet mentality.
I have covered my dieting history at length and in full in both my book and in Epsiode#46, My Journey. What made this worksheet very helpful even though I have done the list before, is that it has columns that require thoughtful answers:
Reason for Starting the Diet, Type of Diet, How long did you stay on the diet? Did you lose weight? If you lost weight, how long did you keep the weight off? Did you regain the weight? Did you regain more weight than you lost?
From the workbook: “The purpose of this section is to help you see the truth of your dieting history. While this worksheet looks at your weight history – the focal point of dieting – we want to stress that Intuitive Eating is not about scales and numbers. Intuitive Eating is not a diet! Dieting promotes weight loss, and we want you to examine the truth of these promises.”
After doing this Dieting History Worksheet, I went to my bedroom, took the batteries out of my scale, and put the scale away in the back of my closet. This was a huge step toward my goal. My goal is not weight loss – although that would be nice. The goal is to make peace with food, to drop my end of the rope in my perpetual tug of war, and to change last week’s “Here lies Miriam Hatoum. Always on a diet. Still Died Fat” To “Here lies Miriam Hatoum. She found peace with food. It doesn’t matter what she weighed.”
THIS WEEK’S ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE
This week I want you to write out your own dieting history. As I said in Episode #46, I am going to take a guess here that this is not your first rodeo with dieting. What I would like you to do this week is to make a list of all the diets you can ever remember being on. With that list, I would like you to make a note of why they did not work. Are you seeing patterns? What are they? Then with the same list I want you to go through and see if anything does resonate with you, or what you found helpful with them or liked about them.
Do you find that you like some foods more than others? Do you find that you are comfortable with some more than others? I am not asking you to find the diet that works – after all, no diet really works AND this episode is Rejecting Diet Mentality – but I’m asking you to find things that resonate with you so you have a jumping off point.
You are your own doctor. You are smart and intelligent, and as I said, it’s not your first time around the block with dieting. Work on paper otherwise all the diets and eating styles are just sugar plum fairies dancing around in your head. Make that list. Do Pros and Cons (and most will be a mix, although there might be several with only cons). Start to analyze the information. Ask yourself the questions that the workbook asked. Put on your white lab coat and become a scientist looking at data.
Understanding how you have put your faith in diets with no permanent return might be one of the most valuable actionable coaching suggestions I can give you!
Next week’s episode
Next week I will continue with Reject the Diet Mentality. I am going to explore how dieting has interfered with my life, the personal benefits of letting go of dieting and letting go of the fantasy. There is so much more, including a diet mentality reflection.
If you are enjoying this podcast, I do have a favor to ask of you. Please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. It helps other people find it by bringing it up in the various directories. Also, don’t be a stranger. Come on over to my Facebook page, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, and let me know if there is anything you would like to hear on the show.
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Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.
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