When you start to realize that there is another (better) way of eating than the yo yo dieting spiral you’ve been on since forever, some questions are bound to arise.
Here are five questions everyone wants to know about quitting dieting for good!
Will I know what to eat if I’m not following a plan?
Yes. It will take some time. And you’ll realise that knowing what to eat means different things on different days. You’ll have to take into account your hunger, your health, your moods, your mental health, your need to experiment and have fun.
If you have dieted, then your food choice was not really based on what you wanted. It was based on what was right for the plan. You ate in accordance to outside rules. Often, when those foods didn’t satisfy you, you might have binged on what you wanted in the first place – and in the process lose faith in yourself and your ability for self-control.
When you don’t diet anymore, you are truly free to eat anything you want.
This scares the pants off most people. But really, why should it? You are technically always free to eat anything you want, even when you diet. But when you decide to step out of the diet-trap and see what it’s like to eat in the real world, you don’t have a handy list of foods to eat or avoid.
So what do you do? It means you need to learn how to balance and this takes time. Over time you’ll get really good at analysing nutritional information from books, and listening to feedback from your body and your mind.
It’s a three way juggle.
1. You’ll eat some food when you just feel like it because of a craving or a mood.
2. Sometimes you’ll eat food because you are hungry and feel that this sort of food is what your body wants.
3. And sometimes you’ll use your executive decision making to nudge yourself to choose one food over the other because you think that might be interesting to see how it feels and you’ll keep your health in mind.
You’ll see that even though other people can eat a certain way, you might come to notice that way is not right for you. It’s a constant conversation between desires, health and mind. And that’s fine. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
Will I gain weight if I’m not actively on a plan?
When you stop dieting and venture into the world of all-the-foods, you may very well gain some weight. How much? Hard to tell. I gained about a stone (14 lbs), sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less.
When you stop dieting, you need to make sure you’re not doing it because you want ‘another fix’. This is not a weight loss plan.
This is just natural way of eating that you need to relearn after mucking up your food relationship through dieting.
It may frighten you to gain weight, and that’s okay. I understand. We live in a world that is fat-phobic. Every magazine, every movie, every casual conversation – we have fear of fat weaved through our culture at all levels. This just promotes further disordered eating by fuelling the idea that we need to diet.
Will I put my health at risk if I’m not watching what I eat?
Our understanding of food and what food really is has definitely gotten messed up through the modern diet. We’ve managed to almost get rid of hunger as a killer in the modern world, but we’ve done so by mass producing low quality foods that don’t always nourish us and leave us with a taste for more, more, more.
With the Eat Happy Method I often aim to stay neutral about food. I absolutely agree that no food is good or bad – and I reject a hierarchy of food. I have eaten all sort of food in my life, and at times when I couldn’t afford organic greens and had to opt for more processed food because it was cheaper – I was grateful that I had this mass produced food to sustain me.
But I know – because it’s simply common sense, that my body is not a modern body. Our bodies have grown up with food from nature. Roughage, roots, tubers, nuts, seeds, meat, natural fats, fish, herbs etc. Our body, often finds food from a factory or a laboratory difficult to manage. They are low in nutrition and don’t fill us up. We eat more.
When we step away from disordered eating and look at cultures free from the diet mentality, such as indigenous tribes from around the world – as soon as they take on a modern and westernized diet, they often become fat or suffer diseases associated with poor food quality.
I use this to inform my lifestyle. (Not simply an eating choice day by day).
I angle my life towards food that is more recognizable to my body than not. But being aware of my disordered eating past, I never, ever, make this a rule. What I have aimed to do, and what I teach with Eat Happy is that we come to naturally enjoy this food. That’s it.
Learn to develop a natural enjoyment of foods that are a bit more simple in nature.
With this sort of attitude, you don’t go far wrong in your mentality around food. You encourage your tastebuds over a long time to not find natural bitter flavours so difficult, and can then tune into the synthetic tastes of some other foods.
But this takes time – and it even takes NOT eating these foods if you have rebelled against them for so long. Sometimes your path to balanced eating with food made or grown from lots of different background takes some time.
Aim not to label these foods. Simply tune into flavours, fullness, after effects and just try each day to listen to your own truth as much as you can.
Finally, on this point – health, food, and weight aren’t always causal. They might be related, but health is vastly more complex than just the food we eat. Health includes whether we have clean water, hygiene, community, meaning, sunlight, air. Looking at food as the only source of health is unbalanced.
Will I be able to lose weight if I’m not dieting?
The aim of natural eating, eat happy, intuitive, and mindful eating is that you learn to find your own balance.
Intentional weight loss – where you are making a big effort to shift the pounds, doesn’t really seem to work. As in, you may lose weight but you might mess up any sense of balance.
I’ve answered this before in this post. And I’m actually against weight loss as a goal. Especially one goal. The one goal to rule them all.
In my opinion, weight loss should be a natural consequence of living a life where you are quite active and enjoying foods that you know grew in some soil at one point in their lives. You don’t make it your main focus.
For example. Going for a walk.
You could do it for the steps. Or you could do it because you want to go and find a rare bird.
The second one is an example from my own life.
It’s totally fine to go “gosh, I’ve sat down all day, I need to move.” Yes, you need to move. Today, I have sat down a lot and I know it’s not good for my body. It feels icky not to move.
So moving should be something you want to do, enjoy doing and is a part of other things you like to do. If you happen to live this lifestyle, then your weight will become balanced to fit that life.
Won’t I binge on all the foods if I think I can have them?
In a word: no.
Funny things happen when you ban, restrict or label foods as bad or off-limits.
When you have a fear of missing out, or scarcity around foods, you WILL over eat and binge on them.
If you know you can have them whenever you want to have them, you won’t be so bothered.
Yes, at the beginning the novelty of eating previously off-limits foods may mean you really go to town on the chocolate aisle. But if you never tell yourself you’ll ban these foods again, you will definitely reach a balance with them.
That’s what it’s all about!
If you are intrigued and want to know more about quitting dieting – then 1:1 coaching could be perfect for you.