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What is The Non-Diet Approach?
We are not designed to diet, science says so
If diets really ‘worked’, why do people start a new one every year? A growing body of evidence shows that not only does dieting not work, it can actually do more harm than good. Dieting can result in increased weight gain beyond original weight and in some cases, disordered eating. As a dietitian, I do not condone placing people on restrictive, calorie reduced diets that are a) no fun, and b) difficult to maintain/unrealistic.
We have all, at one point or another, followed some form of a diet. Whether it was just ‘watching what you eat’ or following more strict eating rules, like Atkins or Paleo, we have all been there, done that. And because we have all been there, done that, we can ALL relate to feelings of guilt and failure that come about when we ‘screw up’ our diets and regain the weight. Sure, diets can ‘work’ for a time (e.g. provide some temporary weight loss, mostly water or muscle) but, as research shows, eventually our bodies reject the restrictive eating, as they NOT like to be undernourished and for good reason! So what we may perceive as lack of will power or just not being ‘good’ enough, is simply our bodies strong biological reaction to starvation and undernourishment – cravings, low energy, irritability, slowed metabolism and fat preservation – all screaming “FEED ME”! At this point, anything edible in your refrigerator never looked so damn good and could not be inhaled fast enough – cue the guilt, shame and i’ll start my diet again tomorrow thoughts – and so the dieting cycle prevails (you get the point)!!
But if not dieting, then what!?
We are not designed to fight and punish our bodies like this forever, there IS an alternative. One that requires you to never diet again. To honor your body and respect what is telling you, rather than trying to ignore and suppress it’s needs and desires.
Think about a new born baby. When we are born, we cry when we are hungry, we stop drinking when we are full. As we get a little older we experiment with food, all food. There is no good and bad at this point. A toddler will happily eat some food from their plate and leave behind the rest, coming back from time to time to have a little more. Of course, some children will gorge on candy and chocolate until their bellies ache, but this is because at some point they have been taught that these foods are ‘bad’, creating a ‘better get it while you can’ mentality.
What if we could revert back to this way of eating, completely by intuition?
This is the Non-Diet Approach…
It’s thinking like a small child, total food freedom! To eat in this way requires us to notice and respond to our internal body cues through MINDFUL EATING (what is mindful eating?). This means honoring your hunger by feeding and nourishing the body throughout the day. It means respecting you fullness by paying close attention throughout a meal, and stopping when you feeling full but also satisfied (you may be full from a bowl of boiled chicken and broccoli, but will you be satisfied?!). This approach will allow you rediscover the joy and pleasure in food, that gets lost in darkness of dieting.
The Non-Diet Approach does not include other traditional weight loss tools, such as body weighing or measuring, counting calories or measuring portions. It discourages these practices, as these things cause us to rely on external information to let us know if, when and how much we can eat, rather than truely listening to our bodies. It also discourages excessive and measured exercise, where the goal is calories burnt, pounds lost or hours in the gym. Instead, again like small children, it encourages exercise for pleasure. Run for the love of running, hike for the fresh air and amazing views, or dance for the laughs and good times. When we exercise for health, rather than simply weight loss the benefits are endless – a general sense of feeling good, stress relief, better rest, clearer thinking and the list goes on.
Some people fear that if they let go of their long held dieting rules, that they will loose control and will not stop eating. When you allow yourself this unconditional permission to eat ALL foods, not labelling them as good and bad, those foods that were once forbidden no longer seem to hold the power they once had. The shift doesn’t happen over night, but it does happen. In some more controlled treatment environments, clients with disordered eating are presenting their ‘forbidden’ or ‘trigger’ foods daily, sometimes twice, and quickly these foods cease to be as powerful and desirable as they once were.
The Non-Diet approach is for anyone and everyone, as we are all affected by the endless cultural messages around dieting, thinness and beauty. There is a billion dollar diet industry out there profiting on our insecurities and THIS is our alternative. The Non-Diet approach is a way OUT of dieting and BACK into our own bodies, back to complete food freedom and body respect.