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Oct 18

How to Tell If You’re Dieting in Disguise

If you’re like most women, you’ve attempted at least one diet in your lifetime.

Meaning, you’ve placed restrictive food rules on yourself in hopes of losing weight.

Only to realize that those food rules weren’t sustainable in the long-term.

As a result,  you may have decided to give up dieting once and for all.

So, you embark on your eating journey ready 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.

Unconscious Dieting

Unconscious dieting or “dieting in disguise” is when a woman isn’t following a set diet, but still operates under a diet mentality.

And operating under a diet mentality will lead to the same negative results.

Which is poor body image, distrust with food, and restrictive eating habits.

The reason for this?

Because dieting thoughts produce dieting results.

We live in a culture that glorifies diet-like tendencies.

In terms of eating healthy, our society lives in an all-or-nothing mindset.

Where we glorify willpower, staying “on track”, and sticking to set food rules.

We eat healthy as a means of losing weight and gaining external results.

Not as a way to genuinely care for and nourish our bodies.

A toxic diet mentality is all around us. 

It’s being perpetuated in ways we can’t even begin to realize.

Because of this, many women who “ditch the diet” actually don’t make progress.

They fall into other unconscious dieting behaviors over time.

Because they still operate under this diet mentality.

Examples of Unconscious Dieting

There are a million examples of dieting in disguise that you’re possibly partaking in.

Which means you’re still operating in the same judgemental, restrictive mindset with food that dieting put you in.

Let’s explore a few examples here so you can better understand what this looks like:

Eating Based Off What You “Deserve”

You decide to eat (or not eat) something based off of what you’ve eaten earlier in the day.

Or by how much you’ve exercised.

You pay no attention to your bodies’ internal signals that are telling you what food it needs to feel healthiest.

You base your eating decisions on guilt, low self-worth, and judgement instead.

Assigning Diet Labels to Lose Weight

This is when you place a dieting label on yourself as a means to an end (vegetarian, keto, vegan, gluten-free, etc).

You don’t assign yourself food rules because of intentions to be healthy.

You do it in hopes that it will accelerate the pounds lost.

Which, in turn, only places more food rules onto your lifestyle that aren’t sustainable long-term.

You Punish Yourself for Eating “Unhealthy”

When you indulge in food items you deem as unhealthy, so you sacrifice something in your next meal.

This can look like eating less than you desire or skipping a meal in the future.

This can also look like adding more exercise so you can “burn off” what you just ate.

Classifying Food Items as “Unsafe”

You ban certain food items out of your life since you think you can’t be trusted to eat them in healthy amounts.

This can look like not eating foods with a certain number of calories, amount of carbs, etc. due to the fear that you’ll overeat them.

This further perpetuates the diet mentality of not having trust in your body and actions with food.

It also rids you of the opportunity to get in tune with your natural hunger signals. 

Tracking Food Metrics

Unless you’re in a place where you’re eating healthy effortlessly and have a loving relationship with your body, you have zero business tracking food or body metrics.

This only further creates judgement and distrust with food.

It also shifts your focus to weight loss as an end-goal.

Which can’t be the case if you want to truly create a loving relationship with food and your body.

Restricting Food

While this may seem obvious, it’s oftentimes not.

If you’re cutting back on food because of an upcoming event or because you “feel fat”, you’re operating in a diet mentality.

This not only gets you out of touch with your natural hunger signals, but also promotes overeating in your future.

How to End Dieting Behavior

The key to ending a diet for good isn’t to just stop the diet…

…it’s to end the dieting thoughts that have likely played on repeat for years.

While this can take some time, it’s actually quite simple. 

The first step is awareness.

Understanding the harm that dieting behavior causes you is crucial.

Think for yourself as to what areas in your life that dieting thoughts have caused you to miss out on. 

This will give you perspective.

The second step is understanding that forcing yourself to stick to strict food rules doesn’t work.

Your brain hates being put into a healthy eating box.

And when you fight against your brain, you will lose every single time.

Don’t do this.

Accept that as much as willpower and obedience around food is glorified…

…it just doesn’t work.

There is another way.

The third step is to get rid of the dieting items in your life.

This includes anything you’re using to track your diet.

Such as the scale, tracking apps, meal plans – all of it. 

This one can be a bit uncomfortable for those deep in the dieting trenches, but trust.

You need to get to a place where you can cultivate a close, nurturing relationship with your body and food.

This can’t be done if you’re trying to micro-manage it with weight loss tools.

The fourth step is to show understanding and compassion for yourself.

Forgive yourself for being in a restrictive, self-sabotaging pattern with food and your body.

Know that the reasons for it happening were understandable, especially given the circumstances of the culture we live in.

If you can learn to call out dieting tendencies and take the steps to branch outside of them, you’ll be well on your way to creating healthy, sustainable eating habits that feel effortless.

- Kat Rentas

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Kat Rentas, Eating Psych. Coach

Hey there! I'm Kat. I'm a former yo-yo dieter turned eating psychology coach. I help high-performing women overcome yo-yo dieting & emotional eating so they can learn to eat healthy and gain trust in their bodies. Here, we focus on eating mindfully, ditching the diet forever, and gaining limitless body confidence. I've done this for myself, and now it's my mission to teach you how! You can read my full story here.

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