The diet mentality and why allowing yourself to eat what you really want might just be a better recipe for health.

27th February, 2017

The diet mentality in action…

You’re out to dinner. One of your favourite meals, lasagna served with garlic bread, is on the specials board. The voice in your head says “don’t eat that, it’ll be loaded with fat, carbs and calories!” So you order the warm chicken salad, it’s tasty and filling but leaves you feeling you want something else. The voice in your head says “go on, have dessert, after all you were good and chose the salad and you didn’t have any bread.” So you order dessert, feeling somewhat justified but also not without a touch of guilt. The dessert appears and it looks delicious. You take a bite and it’s incredibly rich and tastes divine! About half way through you notice you’re really quite full and have had enough. You overrule this observation as you rarely ever let yourself have dessert, you experience the “I’ll get it while I can” effect that comes with thoughts such as “this will be the last dessert I have for a while”.|

You leave the restaurant feeling overfull and slightly sick, you’re starting to regret ordering dessert and you think to your self, “no more sweets as of tomorrow!” An hour later at home, you find yourself thinking about the chocolate in the fridge. You have the thought “I may as well eat that too given I’ve already blown my new healthy eating regime and NO MORE SWEETS AS OF TOMORROW!”

Sound familiar?

Now I want you to imagine ordering the lasagna and doing so with no judgement, you’re simply ordering because you like lasagne and you’re hungry for it. The lasagne arrives and it looks as good as it smells! Extra cheesy, just the way you like it. You’ve learnt about mindful eating and savouring your food and you do so, when you finish you’re truly satisfied. You consider dessert but you’re nicely full and the meal really did hit the spot. You thank your companion for a lovely evening and go home to bed.

This is an example of normal healthy eating.

As you learn how to loosen your grip and eventually let go of diet rules and diet mentality, this type of eating experience becomes possible.

If you resonate strongly with the diet mentality scenario, suddenly switching this off is not as easy as flicking a light switch. You most likely have many years of programming and it takes time and patience to rewire your brain, but it is possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a HAES/non-diet dietitian or therapist.