Have you ever thought to yourself, “If only I just knew the right things to eat?”.
If so, it’s highly likely you’re stuck in diet belief.
This is something I notice when I first start working with my clients and students.
And it’s what has kept them with the same eating habits for years.
While they know that restrictive diets don’t work long-term, part of them still believes that they should search for the perfect diet.
In today’s episode, I clarify what diet belief actually is.
And how you can grow past this belief system moving forward in your health journey.
Hello there. How are you doing today? I hope you’re doing exceptionally well this week. Especially during the craziness that is the holiday season. This is without question my favorite time of year. I love the time spent with family and I love having the opportunity to reflect on the past year. But it’s also the busiest. I know I can say that for myself. And I know there’s many of you who feel that way as well. The holiday rush is so real. And for many of us, on top of managing our work, family events, and maybe holiday shopping for the family, we’re also just trying to find those extra moments to enjoy the holidays. And I want you to know that you have full permission to find those pockets of peace during this season. I know your to-do list may be super long right now and as a wife, partner, or mom it may feel like it’s up to you to create some magic this season for your family. But take a moment every now and then to slow down and take time for yourself. Even if that’s just listening to this podcast every week. Your body will thank you for it, I promise you. But moving on.
This week, I’m really excited to talk with you about diet belief. Now, most of you will have heard my story about dieting in past episodes. But to put it plainly, I was a self-proclaimed professional dieter. I tried absolutely everything to eat healthy and get the results with my body that I wanted. I tried cutting carbs, lowering calories, eating the quote unquote right foods, and nothing was sustainable for me long-term at that point. There were diets that I was able to stick to longer than others. As in, there were diets where I was able to make my willpower last longer than others. But the end result was always the same. I always, with every single diet, ended up with the same or worse results than I had before. One hundred percent. Because none of them were authentic or sustainable for my body or my personal preferences. And I know from talking and coaching with so many of you that you have experienced the same. But I want to bring something up with this. Because I do get follow up questions from some of you after you hear my story. I’ll get questions coming in asking me, “Hey could you tell me more specifically about what diets you tried? And which one’s worked better for you? And if you had to recommend one diet what would it be?”. And this is really interesting to me, right? Because these women will have just listened to a podcast or read an article about how diets, no matter which one, didn’t work for me long-term.
And I’ll explain why and these women will say how helpful the episode was for them. And how it gave them so much clarity. But then, a part of their brain still wants to say, “Well, but hold on. Just tell me. Which diet really worked out better than the others? I want to know.” And this is how I know that diet belief is still present for that individual. So, I’ll explain more about that. But first off, I need to mention that if those thoughts have come up for you, where you think “Hmmm but I wonder which diet really worked better? Maybe it would work for me? Maybe this will be the solution.” If you have thought this or still thinking this deep down now, don’t beat yourself up. This is so beyond normal. You’re not alone. And, like everything else we talk about, I have been there. When I first started implementing a new approach with food and doing the work I teach you in this podcast, my brain wasn’t really prepared to do that at first. My brain was still really greedy for that healthy eating how. Which if you haven’t listened to that episode, what are you doing? Go back and listen to it. But this is what is happening with so many of you, right? Deep down you still have the belief that you should focus on “eating the right things” to change your results with your body. And you still have the belief that the perfect diet exists. And that you just need to find it. Right? I know so many of you deep down believe this. And it would be honestly weird if you didn’t. Because most of us have been conditioned to what diet culture has told us is true. Which is that all we need is a diet to come and save us. And that’s what we need to focus on. We’re constantly bombarded with marketing and pitches telling us that eating this many calories will change your life. And eliminating this macronutrient will solve your problems. With that constantly being put into our minds, it’s inevitable that most of us will walk away from that with diet belief. Believing that we need to focus on “eating specific things” to lose weight.
So, if you believe this now, it makes sense. Because beliefs are just thoughts that you’ve repeated so many times that they are hard-wired in your brain. That’s what beliefs are. They don’t come from you personally. They’re just thoughts repeated enough times in your brain so they form a neural pathway. And what happens when you listen to this podcast and come to the realization that restrictive diets don’t work long-term? Your intentional brain or prefrontal cortex that is capable of higher levels of thinking is like, yes! That makes total sense. She’s right. But after some time your automatic primitive brain that has all of those diet beliefs is like, wait a minute. That can’t be right. We need to go back to what we’ve been believing this entire time. And this is why so many of you will have this cognitive dissonance where you’re having these two opposing beliefs. Of restrictive diets not working. But also, “Hey, maybe we just haven’t found the right diet for us. And we should keep looking for the perfect diet.” Right? And I just want you guys to be aware of this belief pattern. Diet belief is a very real thing.
And in order to eat healthy in a way that is natural to you, you’re going to have to pay attention to these thoughts. Because you won’t get rid of them right away when you start doing this work. It’s a hard-wired belief system that’s probably been there for years. And there’s going to be outside sources that will try and reinforce that diet belief in your brain. All it takes is for your brain to see a sexy quick-fix diet being marketed to you to go back into that thought-pattern. And this is totally fine. My clients come to me with all of the thoughts. All of the diet belief. And we don’t seek to eliminate that right away. Because that doesn’t work. You can’t just erase belief systems overnight. What I do with my clients is give them complete awareness of these thought patterns and how they aren’t serving them. And then they get to decide whether or not they want to indulge those thought patterns. Which working with me obviously they choose the opposite. They choose to acknowledge that diet belief and tell their brain, “I see you. It’s okay. But no thank you. We’re doing something else now. And we’re going to try eating in a way that feels authentic to our body and our preferences.” So, know that. The fact that the diet belief is there isn’t a problem. It only becomes a problem when you listen to it and act on it.
Now let’s talk about why your thoughts are so damn important. Because what many of you tend to do (me included in the past) is you’ll understand you have diet belief. And then right after you’ll want to be like, “Okay I get it. I do have diet beliefs. Totally understand. But what’s actually next. What do I need to eat? Just tell me what foods to include in my diet. I’m ready to move on from this. It’s really no big deal for me.” Right? We all do this. It’s very natural and common for us to want to quickly move on from these thought patterns and this brain work. Because according to your diet belief that’s not what you should be focusing on. But here’s the thing. You cannot force your current brain to complete food actions long-term that aren’t authentic to it yet. So right now your brain is hardwired with thoughts. And these thoughts produce feelings that compel you to take the actions with food that you do now. So, your current eating habits are a result of conditioning and your current thinking in your brain. That is where it starts. So, if you try and force your current brain to eat healthy, with all of those existing limiting diet beliefs, you will eventually self-sabotage. And end up right back where you started. For more on this, be sure to go back and listen to the episode on Self Sabotage. But this is why this happens. Because those new food actions that you’re trying to force yourself to stick to will not be authentic to your current brain. It’s going to be like, “Hell no. This is not what we do”. And you will eventually self sabotage. And this is why you can’t start by changing what you eat. Because you’re skipping the brain work. So you need to get really curious and identify what thoughts are creating the feelings that are compelling you to take certain actions with food. And with this diet belief there’s going to be a whole other host of thoughts that will prevent you from eating healthy naturally.
So here’s some examples of limiting thoughts I notice with my clients. That will prevent them from eating healthy naturally long-term. There’s “I can’t lose weight and eat carbs”, “Less food and more exercise equals weight loss”, “If I were skinnier then I’d be happier”, “I need to eat perfectly on this diet”, “More food makes me fatter”, “I’m addicted to sugar”, “I just need more willpower”, “Eating healthy foods is hard for me”, “I don’t have time to eat healthy right now”, and “I just need to know what to eat”. So these are all examples of thoughts that I notice with my students and clients that are the cause of them not having the eating habits they want. The thought creates an emotion for them. So, maybe that’s doubt or desperation. And these emotions compel them to take certain actions with food. It’s from these emotions that they continue to eat in ways that are unhealthy to them. And then these eating actions lead to the results they have with their bodies. Whether that’s their weight or overall health. So, this is where your thoughts lead you. And it’s important to understand that they are just thoughts. But they will feel like facts to you right now. Because of your diet beliefs and other foods beliefs that have been conditioned in your brain, they will feel like the truth. You may legitimately believe right now that you can’t lose weight and eat lots of carbs. Or that less food and more exercise equals long-term weight loss. You may wholeheartedly believe this. But they are thoughts. In fact, despite what many will lead you to believe, there are many so-called facts of the health industry that are widely disputed and argued among experts. Many of the answers are unclear. Because as it turns out, human bodies are incredibly unique. Our body is very individual to us. And what works for one person does not mean it will work for another. Which is why the work I teach you in this podcast is so important. You get to be curious and come with the food answers based on what your body tells you. So, all of the diet beliefs and food beliefs you have now, in terms of what’s right and what’s wrong, be willing to let all of that go. Because since they’re thoughts, they’re totally optional. You can decide to believe that you “just need more willpower”. Or, you can decide to believe that “My body has everything it needs to tell me what to eat”. Which one do you think serves you the most? Both of these thoughts are available. And you are the driver of the car and the captain of the ship. You get to decide which thoughts you keep, which thoughts you leave behind, and what new thoughts you want to create in the future.
Now, let’s give a real life example of how thoughts and belief affect eating choices. The holidays are coming up, so let’s say you’re on your way to your friends house or maybe your parents house. You’ve really been trying to eat healthier and maybe lose some weight. And they’ve prepared your favorite batch of holiday cookies that you love. You look forward to them every year. I’m going to give two example scenarios here. In the first scenario, you see the cookies and a bunch of thoughts come up. You start to think, “This isn’t allowed on my diet”, “I don’t want to lose control again”, “I’m afraid of falling off track”. So these thoughts cause you to experience the emotion of doubt and fear. It’s a very uncomfortable, stressful vibration in your body. So, to suppress that negative emotion in that moment, you feel compelled to eat. So you can experience comfort. To relieve this negative emotion you proceed to overeat the cookies. Because under times of emotional stress, it’s natural for our bodies to want to experience comfort and suppress the emotion through food. So, you do just that. You overeat the cookies. And the result of patterns like these, where you experience negative emotion from your food beliefs, and then you eat more to suppress them, the result is gaining weight over time. Because as time goes on, you will have to eat more food to suppress the emotions that you weren’t willing to feel. So, that’s what can happen in scenario one with those food beliefs.
In another scenario, you show up to the holiday party with those cookies that you love. And these are the thoughts or beliefs that are present for you in this scenario. “I always eat when I’m hungry”, “Everything I eat is my choice”, “I trust myself to make the right choices for my body”, “I am always responsible for what I eat”. So, obviously very different beliefs from the first scenario. And from here, the emotion that is created is self-confidence or certainty. It’s a very grounding place. Unlike the first scenario where emotion is very heightened in your body. From this place of confidence or certainty, you’re able to make clear and empowered decisions about food. Because you’re not focused on escaping any negative emotion. You’re not feeling those urges. So, the action you take from certainty is to eat a couple of cookies. Very intentionally. There’s no drama about it. Just a couple of cookies. And you savor those two cookies. You give yourself permission to fully enjoy them. So, it goes without saying that with these beliefs and behaviors with food that the result is going to look pretty different. Instead of gaining weight over time, you’re either going to be able to maintain your natural weight or you’re going to be able to lose weight. Right? So, I know this was a very general example. Your own scenario and exact beliefs may look a little different. But I wanted to give you a general idea of how this would work. Your thoughts and beliefs when it comes to food really, really matter. And that is an understatement. They are everything.
And to kind of circle back to the beginning of the episode. Where I addressed those of you who still have the belief that the perfect diet exists. Or that there are “right and wrong ways to eat”. It’s not a problem if those are your belief systems now. In fact, I want you to just expect them to be there. But you want to be aware of it. And take notice of it when it comes to your behavior and eating decisions throughout the day. How are your diet beliefs creating your results with your body right now? What emotions are they producing for you daily? And how do you eat in response to those emotions?
So when a food belief or thought comes up for you, I want you to write it down. And I want you to begin making a list of the beliefs that come up for you. And then, with each one, I want you to ask yourself two questions. First, is this thought true? And second, is this thought serving me? So, there’s a lot of you who truly believe that “eating healthy foods is hard for you”. But ask yourself if this is actually true? And then, especially if the answer to you is yes, ask yourself if that thought is actually serving you. Because if you don’t have the results with food that you want, it’s not. It’s not serving you. The only food beliefs that will serve you, are the beliefs that allow you to think and act like a person who is a naturally healthy eater. Where everything they eat is an empowered and intentional decision that they make. This is the holy grail. And it’s totally possible and accessible for you. I promise you. There’s no one right way to eat. And there’s no wrong way to eat. You get to decide the rules. And you get to decide what beliefs you want to have about food and body. And, since our beliefs are optional, why not choose some food beliefs that get us the results we want?
Alright my friend. I hope this episode was helpful to you. I hope it shed some light on your food beliefs right now. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. And I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.