Episode #: 69. Letting Go of the Diet Fantasy
This episode starts with the exercise of taking an inventory of how dieting has interfered with my life. If I wasn’t already convinced of the need to let go of dieting, the further exercises - the different costs of dieting and exploring how has dieting affected my mind and mood - cemented that thought. Part 2 of these workbook exercises, comparing “Fantasy Thoughts” with my history brought about interesting introspection and reflection. The answer to one of the questions just took my breath away - make sure to listen to find out which one.
The episode goes on to explore the tools of dieting and the hidden forms of dieting - all very interesting. Personally, I have a belief system revolving around both of these and I didn't even realize how strong and deep-rooted this belief system is - no wonder I am having a heck of a time letting go!
I am going to share with you, right in the show notes, what this week's actionable coaching advice is, because it is that important: This week write down a few of the dieting tools that you can’t let go of. Is it measuring your food? Is it being strict with a “no” list? Is it ordering only diet foods when you go to a restaurant? Is it preemptive eating so you won’t eat so much in a social situation? I am sure you can come up with many of your own. Pick one or two and work on letting them go this week.
Make sure you tune in next week to continue our Intuitive Eating journey.
Episode #: 69. Letting Go of the Diet Fantasy
You’re Listening to the Keto and Low Carb Success podcast, Episode #69, Letting Go of the Diet Fantasy.
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!
Let’s continue with Principle 1: Reject Diet Mentality
Last week I shared with you my workbook exercises on Self-Compassion and Dieting History. I hope you took some time to look at your own history. In addition to realizing that diets never offered me permanent solutions, the next exercise was taking an inventory of how dieting has interfered with my life.
The four columns were
1. Physical Symptoms, such as weight gain and blood sugar swings,
2. Social Symptoms, such as eating differently when people aren’t around or worrying about what people think,
3. Psychological Symptoms, such as worrying about eating and having strict rules, and
4. Behavioral Symptoms, such as eating when stressed and eating more when a food rule is broken.
I scored the highest on psychological symptoms – no surprise – and the least on social symptoms, although that column was not without checkmarks.
If I wasn’t already convinced of the need to let go of dieting, the further exercises cemented that thought.
What are the Personal Benefits of Letting Go of Dieting?
Part 1 explored the different costs of dieting.
The first question was about how dieting has affected my social life. I answered that it really hasn’t, except that I am always on high alert especially when the food police are around.
The next question was, How has dieting affected my mind and mood. I answered that I feel that I should know it all and that people are judging me because of my work in Keto and Low Carb. I also have so much angst when the monkeys start playing dodgeball in my mind and I worry about the incongruencies in teaching people about dieting while for myself, I am trying to give up dieting.
Physical consequences insight was the next directive. I am pre-diabetic which I have been for years. My mental state is the belief that nothing can fix it but Keto, but I am beginning to explore whether this is really the case or not. I stand by the fact that eating Keto or even Low Carb will reverse pre-diabetes and even diabetes – research supports that. What I am questioning is what are the outside limits of that? How can I mesh intuitive eating, which is giving up the diet mentality, with what I know is a way of eating that is good for me? There are so many cases of reversing pre-diabetes just with weight loss – as long as you don’t do it by eating 100-calorie snack bags of junk all day long. When I get to the lesson, will I find that my version of Gentle Nutrition incorporates Keto and Low Carb, but does not have to be the sole focus of it? Needless to say, I am doing a lot of hand-wringing with this particular existential crisis.
The reason this is a cost is that if I wasn’t so enmeshed with years of dieting I could probably look at this and say, “Oh eating fewer carbs regulates my blood sugar,” and be done with it, while making lower carb choices. Instead, it has permeated my entire life and has even evolved into a business, causing all this angst. I’m ultimately not sorry about it, because it has given me the opportunity to share this all with you and maybe my struggles will help someone.
Next, “How much time and money have you spent in the pursuit of weight loss?” Let’s just leave it at, I have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars, and I can’t even begin to calculate the time. Let’s do the math, though. My mother took me to a diet doctor when I was 13. I am now 71. I don’ know that I can string together even 6 months at a time that I wasn’t on a diet.
Part 2 is about comparing “Fantasy Thoughts” with my history.
This brought about interesting introspection. The first question was: What kind of thoughts do you hold that may be fueling a fantasy of going on one last diet? My answer was, “This time I will make it work. This time I will make the mindset p8iece of the puzzle work. This time will be the time I never have to start over.” This, by the way, was where my head was when I looked into Weight Watchers yet again.
Next, considering dieting history and subsequent impacts, what would be some reasons for letting go of dieting once and for all. My thoughts on this were, “I am 71. Enough already. I know what to eat and I would like to think that, if I trusted myself, I would know when, how much and what to eat.”
More exploring about letting go of the fantasy:
1. What are your beliefs about weight loss, in general?
a. I believe I will be healthier.
b. I believe it will validate my work.
c. I believe people will approve.
d. I believe my self-worth is tied up in the scale.
2. What are your beliefs about your own weight loss?
a. I believe that not losing weight is my fault.
b. I believe that I am too lazy to exercise.
c. I believe my work is not authentic because I’m still overweight (well I said fat, but overweight is more gentle).
3. Where did those beliefs come from? What is their origin?
a. I have just known from early childhood that having less mass makes you a better person.
b. Then of course, the applause in the weight watcher’s meeting room when you lose weight.
c. Then WOW! Look at her.
4. How do you fantasize life changing for you if you pursued weight loss?
a. My business would flourish.
b. Everyone would think – “Look at her. She MUST know what she’s talking about!”
c. I will feel I can die with my mission accomplished.
d. Okay folks as I typed that out I gasped. Losing weight and being thin has been my mission? I don’t want to die without having accomplished it? Oh my god, I really DO need to get off the diet hamster wheel and realize my self-worth is tied up in NONE of this? Can you relate???
The questions continue… but the answer to this last one just took my breath away. I think I will continue with talking about the next section of the workbook on “Reject Diet Mentality” instead.
There is a list of the Tools of Dieting and I checked off 18 of the 20 tools that I still find myself using. The include things such as: Reading blogs and websites about dieting and “thinspiration,” choosing entrees with low calories when eating out, collecting recipes that have to do with weight loss, etc. Other tools are avoiding eating foods that are high in carbohydrates and avoiding foods that contain sugar. These last things I do in the name of following Keto or Low Carb, but when they were pulled out of the couch of that eating style and dropped into the box of dieting tools, I really had to think about it and realize that a lot of my motivation has come more from a stance of dieting and less from the stance of gentle nutrition. I’m starting to see the difference here…
The questions that follow the Tools of Dieting list had to do with picking a few of them and seeing what I could do to work on them. The very first thing I picked was that the next time I go to a restaurant I am going to order exactly what I want. My friends, just to let you know, this is harder than picking from the menu based on diet rules. It means that I will really have to tune into my body and ask myself what I need and what item will truly satisfy both my physical hunger and emotional hunger. THEN I must do what I have been asking YOU all to do and that is tune into my satiety cue as it starts to present itself. I know what it is, I just have to do it.
For me the satiety cue is a sigh. It’s very subtle but it’s there. Then I notice that my food isn’t that delicious or interesting anymore. I might start pushing it around on my plate. I might start wondering about the dessert menu. In all honesty, at that point if I asked the server to take away my plate, I wouldn’t regret it.
The Hidden Forms of Dieting
Because I am, what I call, a professional dieter, one of the things I did years ago when I first tried Intuitive Eating was try to turn it into another diet. The first mistake I made was not rejecting the diet mentality and which is why I am spending enough time on it this time and why I want to share my workbook experience and thoughts about it, with you. If you have any interest in truly finding your freedom you must not turn this into another diet.
The authors explain that although with Intuitive Eating we might not be following any official diet, our mind might still be in the habit of using the language of dieting, which, in turn, can promote restrictive eating behavior. They give a table of the language of dieting. Out of 20 I checked off six of them which were:
1. I try not to eat any carbohydrates, especially grain-based foods such as cereal, rice or pasta. Let me say there is nothing wrong with this if you have grain-based intolerances or if, indeed, you do find you have a blood-sugar reaction when you eat these foods. I realize that I was taking this purely as a diet rule and not as a gentle nutrition consideration. I am going to work very hard to make that shift.
2. I usually describe a day of eating as either good or bad.
3. Once I eat a forbidden food, I think, “I blew it” and then I eat whatever I want in larger quantities, regardless of my hunger and fullness level. This experience is getting less and less for me, but it still happens.
4. I like to talk about the calorie counts of food. In my case, substitute macros for calories, or during any Weight Watcher’s stints, Points. The point is I am always aware of something that can be counted when I put a food into my mouth. I rarely just eat and enjoy without this hyper awareness.
5. I worry about what people think about my eating. I already talked about this a little bit and can’t wait to get to the Food Police section so I can uncover some it.
6. I believe that I have to lose weight in order to be healthy. I am not necessarily a proponent of HAES which stands for Health At Every Size. I believe that many healthy people are also overweight by social standards. Not every overweight person has high cholesterol, high blood sugar, cardiovascular problems or aching joints. Look at all the thin people with these problems – they are not always a result of a person’s body weight. However, if losing even a small bit of weight WILL reverse high cholesterol, high blood sugar, cardiovascular problems or aching joints, then how could you not say you would be healthier at a lower weight? I need to do more research on this before I dig my heels in the sand, but for now, I know for myself that losing even a small percentage of my weight will help with my health markers.
Dieting Mentality Reflection
This chapter of the workbook winds up with asking for some dieting mentality reflection. Here are the questions with my answers:
1. Do you see any patterns in your thoughts or behaviors? Answer: I do still look at foods as good or bad, as much as I teach other people not to do this. I try to let that go as much as possible. I would rather look at my goals and ask whether a food will help get me to my goal or move me further away. The problem with this is that my goal has been weight loss. I need some SERIOUS reflection here to revise my goal. I want my goal to be health, but then won’t I still be looking at foods in terms of diet mentality? I think I have to say that my goal is to find the best nutrition for my body that makes me feel well and gives me energy, but that makes me happy and content. Maybe then a food will still either help me get to my goal or move me further away and it has nothing to do with losing weight.
2. How frequently do you have these thoughts or speak them in conversations? Answer: Not in a conversation because I teach that there are no good foods and no bad foods. But maybe as I explore my deeper goals, I will think about it more often.
3. How has maintaining this language kept you in a diet mentality? Answer: It’s my language. Meaning I’m always talking about food and dieting, or eating styles and rules. This diet mentality language has kept me locked in dieting mentality. Language is thoughts. Feelings come from thoughts. Actions come from feelings. Results come from actions. I teach an entire lesson on this with urges and cravings. It’s called CTFAR: Circumstance-Thoughts-Feelings-Action-Results. I can see if I change my language which will change my thoughts, I can ultimately change the results I experience. If I want Intuitive Eating results I will have to switch out of Diet Mentality thinking. WOW! Lightbulb! I think I did not succeed with Intuitive Eating all those years ago is because I never changed my language…
The authors wind up this section of the workbook with this: “Paying attention – without judgment – is needed for meaningful change to take place. This is a characteristic of compassion, which plays an important role in the journey of becoming an Intuitive Eater.” They point out that “we live in a dieting culture, so it is easy to be triggered. Letting go of the diet mentality will be an ongoing practice – remember to be patient with yourself.”
I think I didn’t realize the ongoing practice nature of Intuitive Eating. I was looking for one and done all those years ago. Read a book. Talk to a professional a few times. Done. Not so my friends.
THIS WEEK’S ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE
This week write down a few of the dieting tools that you can’t let go of. Is it measuring your food? Is it being strict with a “no” list? Is it ordering only diet foods when you go to a restaurant? Is it preemptive eating so you won’t eat so much in a social situation? I am sure you can come up with many of your own. Pick one or two and work on letting them go this week
Next week’s episode
Next week I will continue my journey with Intuitive Eating, by exploring Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger. If you know my work, you know this is a big one for me. But I will be curious to see what it looks like when I look at the concept through the lens of Intuitive Eating.
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Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.