Do you want to live in Dietland, or would you prefer to live in a world where you are not ruled by food?

9th September, 2015

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge Sarai Walker’s fabulous book ‘Dietland’ from where I have taken this term.

What is Dietland?

Dietland is any place where you are restricting food or calories based on external rules (diet rules) in an attempt to lose weight or control your weight. You may be on a diet, weight loss program, detox or specific “healthy eating” regime that is dictating when, what and how much you should eat.

Do you live in Dietland?

If you practice any of the below behaviours on a regular basis, you most likely live in Dietland.

• You think about the calories of most, if not all, of the food and drink you put in your mouth.
• You avoid food you enjoy the taste of because it’s high in fat, sugar, carbohydrates and/or calories.
• You feel guilt after eating food that you feel will affect your weight.
• You feel anxiety when you are around food that is “unhealthy” or that you worry will affect your weight.
• You avoid social occasions that involve food, or you eat before you go to limit the amount you eat at the event.
• You avoid food you enjoy the taste of because you’re worried it will affect your weight.
• At some point, you binge on (or over-eat) the restricted foods.
• You weigh yourself daily or every few days.
• You exercise to burn calories.
• You find yourself saying “what the hell, I’ve blown it now, may as well…” or “I’ll just have this one and then I’ll be good tomorrow…” or “may as well write off the rest of the week/weekend and I’ll start again on Monday.”

There are too many examples of what it’s like to live in Dietland to include them all here, but we’d love your to share some of your examples of what it’s like to live in Dietland.

So what does a world where you are not ruled by food look like?

In this world, you are taught to reconnect with your internal cues of hunger and fullness and you practice mindful eating. No foods are restricted and you learn how to trust your body with when, what and how much to eat. You learn how to identify and manage non-hungry or emotional eating, and you learn how to let go of guilt around food.

• You don’t worry about the calories in your food or whether it’s high in fat, sugar or carbohydrates.
• You choose food based on your level of hunger, what you feel like eating and how satisfied you know you’ll be afterward.
• Finally you find yourself craving less highly processed sugary/fatty food and craving more fresh whole foods.
• You stop binging.
• You enjoy foods such as chocolate, chips, ice-cream, baked goods mindfully, savouring every bite and you don’t feel guilty.
• You look forward to eating out and trying new foods or just enjoying your preferred type of food.
• You exercise because it makes you feel great, you enjoy moving and/or for social connection.
• You don’t need to weigh yourself because you feel comfortable in your clothes and most of the time, you feel fit and healthy.

So where would you prefer to live?

Need help? Look for a dietitian who works with The Non-Diet Approach and Intuitive Eating.