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The reason you can’t stand “dieting”

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

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If you have worked with me before you know that I am not the coach that labels foods as “good” or “bad”. Now, in addition to this vocabulary, I would add the word, “can’t” & the phrase, “not allowed” as ones I steer away from using when coaching and discussing food habits. These are common words and phrases we hear and use when dieting--or following a specific regimen when it comes to food that is often limiting and restrictive. These words and phrases can have a connotation that you interpret as negative or limiting in some contexts when referring to food or dietary habits. So let’s break these down and talk them through.

Burger & fries

First up: “good foods” vs. “bad foods”. There are so many things wrong with these labels, but for starters, what you may determine as inherently “good” for you may not be for someone else. The same goes for foods that you label as “bad” for you; these may not be “bad” in someone else’s dietary routine. Next, labeling foods as “good” and “bad” places a limitation on them, without being able to truly have food freedom. Ourselves and society has placed these labels on just about everything we consume: “fruit and vegetables are good for you” and “In N’ Out is bad for you”. While there may be some truth to these statements, to outright claim one as better than the other is not seeing the bigger picture.

When you place these good vs. bad rivalries on food, this inhibits your food decision making process and how you feel about those decisions & their consequences. By labeling a food or restaurant as good, you associate that it is something you can have often or a lot of. On the contrary, when you label the opposite as bad, you associate that with your other words & phrases of “I can’t have that” or “I am not allowed to have that”. This poses a limiting belief on that food or food category. You then continue to move forward associating that food or restaurant as something you cannot have because it doesn’t support your goals or it does the opposite of what you are aiming to achieve. This has now completely altered your way of thinking and how you view that food when it is presented--oh and trust me, it will be presented! Think: office happy hours, work trips, vacations, holidays-- that 'bad' food will be staring right into your soul. It will find your cravings, your weaknesses.

Saying that you “can’t have something” poses a limit on it and in times of craving, it makes you want it more because you constantly tell yourself, 'you can't have it'. This continued pattern can lead to binge eating, rebounds, 'falling off' your nutritional regimen & ultimately not seeing the results you want. Having too restrictive of a diet can lead to these pitfalls, making it even more difficult to get back into the rhythm of your diet plan than when you originally started. This restrictive eating pattern is not only one that affects your nutrition, but also your mindset & we both know that any effective behavior change begins with mindset.

Instead of labeling food as good vs. bad and restricting yourself to what you can & can’t have, implement a nutritional regimen that is realistic and enjoyable. Your diet doesn’t have to have the connotation of a “diet” if it is a lifestyle. Understanding and being realistic & honest with yourself when it comes to your current and past eating patterns, goals, cravings, weaknesses and life commitments is what will make all the difference in taking your nutrition from a diet you keep rebounding from to a lifestyle that you can sustain.

TRY THIS IRL (in real life): Try out these alternative words and phrases to refrain from a limiting relationship with food to consider practicing in your own life.

​“I can’t eat Taco Bell Karen, I’m on a diet.”

→" ​I don’t love the way Taco Bell makes me feel after I eat it, so I choose not to.”

​"I am on this diet, so I can't eat out at restaurants."

​→“I am working on making most of my meals at home, so I brought my own lunch, but I am happy to join!”

​"I'm not allowed to eat out more than once a week on this new diet."

→ "​I am choosing to eat out once a week and I already ate out last night.”

​"Thats one of my weaknesses, but I have completely cut it out since being on this diet."

​→ “I am working on choosing healthier options for my body these days, would you be open to…(offer alternatives)?”

Want to cut through the media's nutrition BS, fads and nutrition schemes?

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Vanessa, Mils Fit

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