If you’re like most women, you’ve attempted at least one diet in your lifetime.
Only to realize that they weren’t sustainable long-term.
As a result, you may have decided to give up dieting once and for all.
So you decide to finally eat in a way that provides lasting results with your body.
Months later, you come to realize that nothing has changed.
You still see yourself picking up healthy eating habits and putting them back down.
Does this sound familiar?
If so, it’s possible you may be dieting in disguise.
In this episode, I explain what this means and how you can overcome it to create healthy eating habits that last.
Hello, my friend. Welcome back to the podcast. I’m very happy you’re here with me today. In this episode, we’re going to talk all about dieting in disguise and what that means. I know this concept will be completely new to many of you. Because there will be many of you that think going on a diet, or dieting in general, just doesn’t really apply to you. And in this episode, I’m going to discuss exactly how you may have been dieting in disguise in the past. Or how you may be dieting in disguise right now. And this is really, really important. You cannot create healthy eating habits that feel natural to you when you’re doing this. So, I’m going to clear that all up for you here in this episode.
First, I want to make clear what definition of a diet I’m referring to. Here, I’m not referring to a regular diet, which is really just a set method of eating, right? We’re not referring to the foods you decide to include in your daily diet. Or the food decisions you simply make ahead of time. In other words, we’re not referring to a simple food plan. I’m referring to a restrictive diet or a chronic diet here. And I like to define this type of diet as “a restrictive set of food rules written by someone other than yourself”. So, it’s likely that right away you’ll think of traditional mass-marketed diets. Such as the Atkins diet, South Beach diet, Weight Watchers. These are all obviously diets that consist of restrictive food rules written by someone other than yourself. And when I say restrictive, I simply mean there’s no room for error. You’re quite literally restricted to the foods that the diet tells you are acceptable to eat. So, a restrictive diet. Is a set of restrictive food rules written by someone other than yourself. Simple.
And where the problem starts, is that most of us think that a restrictive diet is the only option to change our eating habits. So, when we want to eat healthy and lose weight, the health industry presents a number of what I call “healthy eating boxes” to choose from. So, these would be the different types of diets. Such as the Atkins, Weight Watchers, Keto, Nutrisystem, Low-Carb – any type of diet that has restrictive food rules written by someone other than yourself. Diets that tell you that you can eat this, and not that. Or that tells you, you can eat this much, and not that much. And these diets, or healthy eating boxes, are seemingly our only options to get the results we want. I know for me in my past, I never even considered that other options existed for eating healthy. I just thought this was how it was done. If I wanted to lose weight and feel good in my body, I had to choose one of those options. So, I tried all of the healthy eating boxes. Because not one of them worked long-term.
I spent years trying to force myself to fit into each box. So, first I tried low-calorie. Then I tried low-carb. I tried a paleo diet. I tried Nutrisystem. I tried it all. And none of it worked for me. And I’ve talked a lot about willpower on this podcast. And why willpower doesn’t work. But really, what willpower is, is when you’re trying to force yourself to fit in one of these “healthy eating boxes”. You’re trying to force yourself to stick to food rules that someone else created who has no idea what your needs, preferences, and goals with food really are. So, you quote unquote “fall off track”. The diet isn’t sustainable for you. Which leaves you with zero self-trust when it comes to your ability to eat healthy and make the changes you want. You’re left with poor results with your body and your health. So, you continue to look outside of yourself for the answers. And you, once again, try another “healthy eating box” that is a cookie-cutter plan designed for the masses. But, you aren’t aware of this yet. Because you’re left believing that these are your only options.
And I want to make something very, very clear. Because it’s always important to me that you know where I started. I dabbled in these types of diets for years. For years. I was always trying to force myself to follow food rules that weren’t my own. And, I was always completely clueless as to why it wasn’t working. So, before moving on, I want you to be really compassionate with yourself if this is something you can relate to. Do not beat yourself up if you’ve been through this cycle. Where you’re picking up healthy eating only to put it back down. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’ve attempted these restrictive methods of eating for years. It’s not your fault. It never was your fault. You just simply haven’t been told the truth as to what works for you, individually, long-term. So, know that. Any opportunity you have to be proven wrong in this podcast is great news. I’m not even kidding. That’s something I even feel in all areas of my life. Any opportunity I have to be proven wrong is amazing. I never make it mean something bad about myself. I make it mean I’m learning and I’m growing. And I make it mean that I’ve just found another secret to what’s going to bring me towards the result I want and the person I want to become. But, moving on.
From what we’ve covered so far, you are now clear on what a diet is.. Which is a set of restrictive food rules written by someone other than yourself. And, don’t worry. I’ll only repeat that a bajillion times in this episode. Just so it sinks in. And you’re clear on the fact that there are a number of very obvious diets that are presented to us by the health industry. And that these “healthy eating boxes” only lead you to falling off track when willpower runs out. And losing trust in yourself when it doesn’t work out. This is all very obvious, right? Now I want you to consider all of the other areas in your past or present with food, where you may have been dieting as well. Because it is highly likely that you will have experienced some dieting in disguise. And a diet in disguise is essentially a chronic diet disguised as not being a diet, right? Pretty self explanatory. But, let’s talk about specific examples of dieting in disguise. Really big examples of this, and I’m going to possibly ruffle some feathers with this one, are the keto diet, the paleo diet, and the vegan diet. These are just examples I’m going to use here. And, first off, there’s nothing inherently negative about these methods of eating. There are very specific purposes for having a keto diet, a paleo diet, or a vegan diet. However, none of these diets were solely meant for the purposes of losing weight or achieving better health – for the average person. These diets were never intended to be marketed to the masses. Where anyone and everyone attempts them without understanding how they actually affect the body.
What has actually happened is that these methods of eating gained popularity for allowing some people to lose weight long-term. And I say some people very intentionally. So, basically, these methods of eating happened to align with the needs, preferences, and goals of specific people. Which does happen. This will happen for any diet, right? There will always be the select people who find that method of eating sustainable. There are people who due to medical reasons really benefit from those specific methods of eating, right? But, then what happened, is that these same diets started being marketed to the masses as the holy grail for weight loss. Because that’s what people are always looking for. People are always in the market to buy another weight loss solution. And the diet industry knows this is what you want. So they capitalize on it. Without question, they will tell you that keto, paleo, vegan – whatever, is the solution for you. Without knowing anything about your body and what she really needs.
And look at it this way. If there was a single miracle diet that truly allowed everyone to eat healthy. And there was a magical set of healthy food rules that everyone could follow. Do you think there’d be a different popular diet every other year? No! Of course not. That would never happen. This is all very intentional marketing from the dieting industry. And even worse, is that the diet industry has gotten smarter. They know that people are catching onto the fact that restrictive diets don’t work long-term. So, the diet industry is rebranding, you guys. It’s happening everywhere. Everything looks different now. You just need to pay attention. The buzzwords they use in the advertising are different. Terms like “clean eating” and “medically approved” are thrown around. The colors they use in their marketing are different that cause you to believe that the product is sustainable and natural. The photos they use are different from what they used to be. I notice that the imagery is less about weight loss and more about a sustainable lifestyle. Because they know you’ve caught onto the fact that this is what you really want. Which is all well and good. But, and this is a big but, the diet has stayed the same. Everything is created to look more natural and sustainable for you. Because they know you’re catching on. But this is how a diet in disguise is created. They are diets that are now disguising themselves as not being a diet. And to a health coach, like me, this is kind of terrifying to know. That this is what’s actually happening here. Because diets have always been enticing for those of us who are desperate for the result. But now, they’re extra compelling because they’re disguising themselves as being sustainable. When, in fact, they’re not. Whether it’s a diet that’s very obvious, or a diet in disguise, the results will always be the same. You’ll be left with eating habits that aren’t sustainable long-term. And you’ll also be left chasing another diet and searching for a “healthy eating how” that will work for you.
Now, sometimes I’ll have people say to me, “Well, this diet allows me to lose weight, gain more energy, and do X,Y,Z. So I don’t know what’s wrong with it”. And I’ll normally say to them, “If you could have all of those results without being on that diet, would you choose to do that?”. And they always say yes. They just didn’t know that option was available to them.
I’ll also sometimes speak with women who are very protective of these types of diets. Because thus far the diet has allowed them to lose weight very quickly. But, I’ll usually ask them, “What happens when you want to eat carbs again? Or what happens when you want to eat more food again?”. And they’ll usually say, “Well, I sometimes include a cheat day so it’s no big deal”. But then I’ll say, “No, hold on. What really happens when your body is completely done giving up carbs? Or sugar? Or whatever else you’ve been restricting? What happens when your body doesn’t want to stick to a specific diet anymore? And what happens when that willpower finally runs out?”. And they usually say they have no idea what will happen.
And I’ll tell you what happens you guys. Because I’ve seen so many women and clients struggle with this. And I really want you to avoid this. When you’re on any restrictive diet, that caused you to lose weight very quickly, you will just as quickly gain the weight back when you stop. Along with a host of other problems. Such as a lowered metabolism, fat retention, increased cravings – the list goes on and on. This is what will happen when you stop the specific diet that you are on. It’s like you’re pushing a giant boulder that you know is much too heavy for you up a hill. And at the top of that hill are the goals you have set for yourself. Whether that’s weight loss or just better overall health. And deep down you know that it’s unlikely that you’ll make the journey to the top. You realize this from the beginning. But, you’re desperate. You’re desperate to lose the weight and make a change. And this is the only way you know how to get that boulder to the top. It’s the only way that’s been presented to you. Now, what happens when that boulder gets too heavy? It falls all the way back down to the bottom. All of your hard work was for nothing. You have to start over. And that boulder probably crushes you on the way down. It does not feel good. And you’re left in a worse place than when you started. But this is the only option you think is available to you. Maybe, this whole time, you were just missing the fact that there was a crane there all this time, that could eventually bring you and that boulder to the top of that hill in a way that felt simple, easy, and sustainable for you. You were just so desperate for that result to notice it was there. Now, I know I went into a pretty lengthy metaphor for you guys there. But I hope this makes sense. Because it’s so important.
And, I’m going to be very real with you. I know this is not what anyone wants to hear right now. As the humans, we really want to believe that a specific diet can come and save us. We want to believe that a diet is all it will take to solve all of our problems with food and body. But here’s the thing. You don’t need a diet to come and save you. And you certainly don’t need a diet to create healthy eating habits that feel natural to you. In fact, it’s necessary that you don’t diet to do this.
Here’s what I want you to focus on instead. I want you to focus on simply paying attention to your body’s needs and preferences with food. The key to eating healthy and getting results without a diet is self trust and body wisdom. Meaning, you need to develop trust in yourself that you have everything it takes to get the results you want. And that you never have to rely on anyone or anything outside of you to get those results. And to clarify, I don’t have my clients rely on me as their coach either. I’m the guide. I’m there to steer them in the right direction and show them what works. But I don’t teach them to rely on me. I teach them how to rely on themselves when it comes to food, so they’re able to keep creating healthy results with food and body, long after we stop working together. So, self-trust. That’s a non-negotiable. You also need to develop body wisdom. And this isn’t as complicated or as fluffy as it sounds. This simply means that you gain an awareness of what to eat and what not to eat based on what your body is telling you. So, begin to pay attention. Take notice of what foods make your body feel most nourished and satisfied. Observe what foods make your body feel crappy and unsatisfied. Notice at what point in a meal you feel adequately full. Take note of what times of the day you feel genuinely hungry. Observe what emotions compel you to overeat the most. And decide how you’re going to process those emotions instead of eating through them. I could go on and on here. But, see the difference? You’re simply paying attention and harnessing your own body wisdom to change your eating habits over time. This is how you become a naturally healthy eater, without any diet or diet in disguise. And this is everything I teach. Whenever you need a reminder just listen to this podcast. Or if you want to take the work deeper hire me as your coach. But never feel like you need another set method of eating to achieve the results you want. All you need is to start paying attention. So you can take responsibility for your own eating choices.
I want you to ask yourself when you may have dieted in disguise in the past. When have you tried to follow restrictive food rules, that you thought were truly in your best interest? I did this so many times. And, the truth is, you may have moments in your future where you still feel compelled by a diet in disguise. But there is a way to avoid you getting stuck in one. Which is for you to always be completely honest as to why you’re eating a certain way. Always be asking yourself, what’s the motive behind the way you’re choosing to eat right now? Because if you genuinely love to eat a certain diet. Whether that’s paleo, keto, vegan – whatever, and it allows your body to feel most optimized, and you’re able to sustain that method of eating long-term, then I don’t see a problem. But this is hardly ever the case. And you need to be really honest with yourself as to whether this is really the case for you. If you’re listening to this podcast and you’ve struggled to create healthy eating habits that feel natural to you, you have no business attempting these restrictive methods of eating. It will not serve you at all. I will speak with many women who say that they would never go on a restrictive diet. That they would never limit their calorie intake. Or restrict themselves to points in a weight loss program. But then, I find that they’ll attempt to follow a diet in disguise. And that they’re not finding it sustainable. So, really be honest with yourself. Always be mindful as to whether you are blindly following someone else’s restrictive food rules because you’re desperate for the result you want.
The only thing that you can know for sure isn’t a diet in disguise is your own expertise in what works for you. It’s your own body wisdom that tells you what she needs to be healthy and satisfied. This is the expert you want to trust and learn from in the beginning. Then, and only then, once you’ve developed a method of eating that works for you, where you’re the expert, can you try other methods of eating that are outside of yourself. But at that point, it won’t be because you’re desperate for the answers. You’re simply looking to learn more ways to experiment with your eating habits to find what works best for you. So, fully commit to this process of sustainable healthy eating and allow yourself to create your own rules with food before you look outside of yourself. Don’t fall for diets in disguise you guys. Always be hyper aware of when something is a restrictive diet. All of them will lead you to the same negative effects. Where you’re trying to force healthy eating habits, only to put them back down weeks later. No matter the diet, this process will be just as painful and frustrating as any other chronic diet.
And to be clear, this isn’t to say you should be anti-diet, right? There should be no resentment or negative energy associated with any of these diets. We simply know they just don’t work for you long-term. You are the one responsible for your eating habits and the results with your body. And you don’t need a diet to create those results for you. You have everything you need inr your own mind and body to figure out what works for you, right now. So you can create the relationship with food and body that you’ve always wanted. Don’t focus on finding solutions outside of yourself. Trusting yourself to come up with the food answers will lead you to the sustainable healthy eating habits that you’ve always wanted. Alright. I hope this was super valuable to you. And I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology 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.