Have you ever been told that carbs were bad for you? What about meat and fat? If you cut out everything that diet culture has claimed to be “bad”, there would be nothing left to eat. So, what do you do instead? Learn how to quit dieting for good and begin to heal your body’s relationship with food.
That sounds simple until you realize exactly how ingrained diet rules are in the way that you think about food. If you want to know more about rejecting diet mentality and what will happen when you do, then this post is for you.
What Dieting Does To Your Body
Every diet promises success if you have the willpower to follow the rules. In reality, dieting is setting yourself up for failure every single time.
When you restrict food or food groups to lose weight, you are working against the way your body naturally functions. Over time, that can lead to a whole range of health issues and side effects.
- Slowed metabolism and long-term weight gain
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Loss of energy
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Increased stress on your organs
- Mood swings
- Hormone imbalances
- Loss of muscle
- Heart problems
- Gallbladder disease
That is just a short list of some of the most common or dangerous effects of dieting. You may not notice them at first, because they tend to happen gradually. By the time you realize that you are having some of these issues, the damage can be severe.
You are probably wondering why your body has such an intense reaction to dieting and weight loss.
Your body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein to function optimally. When there aren’t enough of those macronutrients available, your body goes into starvation mode. That is what it is biologically supposed to do to keep you alive. It doesn’t know that you are dieting on purpose to lose weight. You are not failing to stay on your diet due to a lack of willpower. Your body is simply trying to tell you that you are starving.
When your body goes into starvation mode, it uses less energy by only carrying out the most essential processes. It also increases the level of the enzymes that make and store fat. That is why we tend to gain more weight after each diet than we lost while following the diet.
Multiple studies have also linked yo-yo dieting, repeatedly losing and gaining back 10 or more pounds, with heart disease, gallbladder disease, and premature death. It is actually better to maintain a stable weight at a higher weight than it is to lose the weight by dieting, only to gain it back later.
What Happens When You Stop Dieting
When you stop dieting and allow yourself to eat whatever you want, it can be very freeing. Once you get past the initial shock and anxiety of not having to obsess over diet rules, fat grams, net carbs, or calories, you will find that you suddenly have time to pursue hobbies or do a lot of the things you used to not have time to focus on.
Amazing things start to happen when you truly give yourself permission to eat whatever your body wants and needs. You will gradually notice the following benefits.
- More energy
- Clearer thinking
- Better quality sleep
- A higher metabolism
- Fewer mood swings
- A more positive relationship with food
By permitting yourself to eat what your body wants and needs, you will find that your stress levels and mood swings decrease and you will gradually have more energy. Eventually, your body will return to a much higher level of functioning and your metabolism will increase.
How To Quit Dieting For Real
So, how do you stop dieting and not gain weight? You have to re-learn how to eat.
But I know how to eat! If I stop dieting, I will never stop eating!
That is still your diet mentality.
Food is not the enemy. You have to be ready and willing to see food as a neutral source of energy for you. A bowl of pasta is not worse than a salad. If you are hungry and craving a bowl of pasta, the salad will not give you the energy and satisfaction that your body is requesting.
Give yourself permission to eat and learn how to work with your body and eat intuitively. That is the key to true freedom from dieting.
It is Possible to Stop Dieting And Eat Normally
Now that you have unconditional permission to enjoy everything you have been deprived of eating, there may be a re-feeding period where your body and mind learn to adjust to your new-found freedom. Try not to be judgmental or worry about your weight at this stage. The focus should be on giving your body what it needs and seeing food as a neutral source of energy.
How do you begin to figure out what your body is asking for you to provide?
Your body is more than capable of letting you know when it is hungry and when it isn’t. If you follow these natural signals, you will be able to eat normally and have more control than you ever had when dieting.
Your mind and your body will finally be working together instead of being at war with each other.
Depending on what your body’s natural ideal weight is, you may slowly lose or gain weight until you reach the weight where your body is most comfortable. This may not match the weight and body size that you have always dreamed of, but it will be a manageable and healthy place for your body.
The Next Step – Honoring Your Hunger
When you are dieting, you often eat according to the time on the clock and learn to ignore your hunger.
Throw that out, too.
Now that you are making an effort to reject diet mentality and have given yourself permission to eat anything, you are ready to learn when your body is trying to tell you that it needs food.
In the second step of intuitive eating, you will get in touch with your body’s unique hunger signals. It is time to start honoring your hunger and providing yourself with the amount of nutrients that you need and deserve.