Sometimes when you begin explore Anti-Diet, Health at Every Size (HAES®) and Intuitive Eating it’s like the curtain got pulled back on Oz and you simply can’t go back. You see Diet Culture for all it is (and all the damage it does) and you simply don’t understand how anyone can continue to diet once they know this information.
Sometimes when you begin to explore these ideas, the notion of rejecting Diet Mentality and releasing your attachment to body change feels scary (and a bit impossible) and makes you want to run screaming in the other direction (right back to dieting).
Sometimes both happen, synchronously. And it’s all just a little confusing.
Often times the fear is resulting from significant engrained Diet Mentality beliefs we as a culture have about health and body. We’ve been told (some of us for our whole lives) by people and professionals we trust, that being in a bigger body will cause our body harm. That if we truly value and respect ourselves, shrinking our bodies is of utmost importance – something we need to prioritize if we value our health and well-being. And if we don’t, well, we just don’t have our priorities in check.
This guilt and shame inducing idea is reinforced by the fitness and “wellness” industry and by popular culture. To say nothing of the cultural aesthetic values we place on the thin ideal (that’s a whole other can of worms)!
So it’s no wonder that for many people, while the concepts of food freedom and body respect sound liberating, there is a tremendous pull to just try one. more. diet.
“I’ll just do this one last diet, then I’ll be at my optimal weight and then I’ll use Intuitive Eating to simply maintain it. K?”
Oh man do I get it. I feel it too sister!
But that’s just Diet Mentality at its best. Deluding you and mis-informing you. Giving you false hope that you can have your “cake” (aka body) and eat it too (quite literally).
So what can we do if we’re “in it?” Torn between Anti and Diet.
Get curious. And if you need to, do the diet.
When clients sheepishly tell me they want to try one last diet, I meet them with grace and respect, and they’re often shocked.
We get curious about why (what need are they hoping to fulfill) and sometimes I encourage them to do it.
Why? Because we’re all on our own path. It’s not my job to push or cajole someone into Intuitive Eating – you need to be ready. And if you’re not, that’s OK. Like, really OK!
Sometimes we need one last diet to really see that it doesn’t work. We need to do the thing we’ve been doing just one more time. Because if you’ve been dieting pretty much your whole life…it feels like “home.” Even if home is miserable, it’s what you know. And sometimes leaving home (even if it’s shitty there), is scary.
Change is hard.
In order to find that deeper motivation to change, the desire to change must outweigh the costs of staying the same.
I can spout stats till the cows come home about the costs of Diet Culture, but lived experience is what often tips the scales. And lived experience is often one last diet.
I call that Diet Bottom. And much like in recovery (whether from drug, alcohol or Eating Disorder), sometimes you have to hit it a few times. There might be a few “false” bottoms along the way. And that’s ok too. It’s all part of the lived experience you need to get the deeper motivation you need to affect lasting change.
I resist making a parallel to recovery because I don’t want to belittle recovery or speak out of turn. In life and death recovery situations sometimes that “one last time” is a true last time. And while Diet can cause incredible harm and lead to a life-threatening Eating Disorder, most often Diet itself won’t kill you. So I don’t make this parallel lightly, but in hopes to help even one person have it “click.”
I also don’t want to draw parallels to intuitive eating/ food and addiction because within the framework of Intuitive Eating we don’t believe that food is an addiction. What has us develop addictive like behaviour is the restriction caused by Dieting. So if anything here is “addictive” it is the behaviour of Dieting (not the food itself). Perhaps that’s for another blog (stay tuned).
The Bottom Line on Diet Bottom:
If you’re curious about Anti-Diet, taking a HAES® approach to Health and Intuitive Eating, but you also feel an insatiable draw to do one last diet, this is what I want you to hear: it’s ok. Really. It is.
Be curious. Notice what you’re feeling. What’s driving this desire for diet? If you go for it, stay curious throughout your experience. Notice how this diet makes you feel – body, mind and spirit. Notice how you feel when you experience the highs (and the lows). Does this feel sustainable? Does this feel peaceful? How much of your energy, money and mental real estate is this using? Does that work for you? For your family? For your life?
Anti-Diet, HAES® and Intuitive Eating are a practice and a process. And they take deeper work. You need to be ready. And it’s ok if you’re not. No judgement or criticism will come from me.
Follow your path. As always, you do you.
If you’re curious to learn more about Anti-Diet, a HAES® approach to Health or Intuitive Eating consider booking a free 15-minute Discovery Call. I’d love to connect with you and explore whether this approach is something you’re ready for (and if you’re not, it’s ok, for real).