The benefits of not dieting
This post is written by the wonderful Nina Mills, Intuitive Eating Counsellor and Dietitian, from Feel Good Eating…
We constantly receive messages from social and traditional media, health professionals and government public health departments about the benefits of dieting to manage our weight. And by dieting, I mean any of the myriad of ways in which we might manipulate our eating and movement with the purpose of weight management (that is weight loss, or making sure weight doesn’t increase). Yes, even the regularly recommended portion control and counting steps are considered dieting behaviours when they are used for weight management.
It really doesn’t make much sense why we keep being inundated with these messages given we know that dieting for weight management doesn’t actually provide long-term results. But rather than get caught up on the negatives of dieting, what if we flipped our mindset, and focussed on the good things that come with NOT dieting?
Just some of the benefits we can enjoy from not dieting:
It frees up your mental and physical energy
When you are no longer obsessing about food, counting calories, organising your day around your food and exercise, thinking about the next time you get to eat, worrying about what impact food will have on your weight, you will find you have soooo much more mental and physical energy at your disposal.
You can finally take those guitar lessons, learn how to speak Italian, unlock your creativity through watercolour painting, go salsa dancing, nurture your kitchen garden, organise a feminist book club…..the list goes on!
You will be more present
That increased mental and physical energy also means you can be more present with those people who are most important to you; your partner, your children, your friends, your pet, your family.
How you think about self-worth changes
When you are not dieting, you get to let go of that entrenched belief that your self-worth is determined by your size and shape. You get to re-write your definition of self-worth and base it on something more than your physical appearance.
You can eat with more ease
Imagine being able to stop for a meal or snack at any café or restaurant spontaneously and choose something to eat off the menu based on what looks good and will satisfy your hunger? Or, go to a dinner party and eat whatever is served without taking back-up food? Or, insisting that YOU host the dinner party so that you can make sure all of the food is prepared according to your food rules? Or, being able to do your grocery shopping in 20 minutes rather than 2 hours because you are not scrutinising every food label? (I understand that if you have a diagnosed food allergy or intolerance that some of this still may be difficult.)
When you are not dieting, you can eat with ease. Eating is no longer something that requires hours and hours of thought, preparation or angst.
You can enjoy movement again
Likewise, when physical activity is not being done to burn off or earn food, it becomes something that is done for the pure joy of moving your body. Walking and restorative yoga ‘count’ and you can sleep easy at night content even if your movement for the day was getting down on the floor and playing with your kids.
It will save you money
All of those diet programs, books, gym memberships, boot camps, juice cleanses, meal delivery services cost $$$. Moving away from diets will free up some cash flow in your budget.
Life will get more awesome
All of these benefits of not dieting combined leads to living a life that is richer, fulfilling and expansive, rather than one that is made smaller and stressful by the preoccupation with weight, food and diets.
It is possible to let go of that pressure to manage your weight with diets and enjoy all of the benefits not dieting can bring you. If you would like to explore a non-diet approach to health and well-being please reach out to Nina at Feel Good Eating. If you would like to work on improving your body image and self-worth then please reach out to Jodie for counselling.
Guest post by Nina Mills
Nina is an anti-diet, weight-inclusive Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor, offering virtual and in-person nutrition counselling for people with eating and body concerns along the spectrum of chronic dieting, disordered eating and eating disorders. She uses the principles of Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size(R) to help people reconnect with their bodies, make food choices from a place of self-care and ultimately feel good eating(TM). You can learn more and connect at Feel Good Eating , Instagram, Facebook or Twitter
It is possible to experience the freedom of body neutrality in the body you have now. Healing your body image takes time, and may need the assistance of a professional. If you would like to explore and improve your relationship with your body, I’d love to work with you.