Some eating plans don’t call themselves a diet because they come under the guise of eating for health and wellness. You are still expected to conform to set ways of eating but it's OK, it's more of a lifestyle approach so it's better.
Or is it?
There can be a very fine line between dieting and healthy eating and it's getting greyer by the week. The diet industry knows we've sussed them. We've found out the truth about diets and their pitfalls so they're having to re-think.
Diets are being reinvented. Like any other product, diets have to stay current if the industry wishes to maintain and grow their billion pound profits. The devil in disguise.
The new 'wellness / healthy lifestyle diet' provides complete nutrition, it supports our health and vitality and it's less faddy, not so restrictive. It's endorsed by Doctors and TV celebs. It's more about health, not dieting. It's more sustainable.
It's now more than weight loss. The wellness / lifestyle diet is all about eating the 'right' foods, removing processed and other 'unnecessary' foods from our diet. Like dairy, gluten and carbs. That can't be bad can it?
Well let's see. It implies we can prevent all disease and live longer, that eating certain kinds of food will inevitably harm our health. That's simple enough, to the point and that's what we like.
Scientific research however disproves this belief. It shows that to be in good health, we DON'T need to cut out 'processed' foods or go sugar free. Weight stigma is actually a bigger determinant of our health than our actual weight or eating habits!
You DON’T need to demonise certain food groups, restrict your overall food intake, or treat food as the be-all-and-end-all of health.
The lifestyle diet advocates holistic health but you're actually more likely to put both your physical and mental health at risk. Where's the holistic benefit here? It can also slip into orthorexia, a type of eating disorder characterised by an obsession with healthy eating.
The Diet Mentality
If you've dieted repeatedly throughout your life, I bet your diet voice is so familiar to you, you don’t even notice it. You may not be following a particular diet but your mind may still be in ‘diet mode’, using the language and having the thoughts that encourage restrictive eating behaviours or feelings of guilt.
It's having what is called a diet mentality and the diet industry preys on this. It's more than weighing, counting points or syns. A diet mentality is about food avoidance tactics but also having thoughts like these:
- The nutritional value of your meal is more important than the pleasure of eating it
- Your self-esteem gets a nice boost from eating healthily
- You've given up foods you used to enjoy in order to eat the ‘right’ foods
- If you eat pudding you think about needing to exercise more
- You feel guilty when you stray from your diet
- If you eat out, you compare what you're eating to others and feel bad if you eat more than they do
- You still believe you have to lose weight in order to be healthy
If an eating plan encourages this sort of behaviour, I hate to break it to you but it's still a diet. If your mentality about food makes you feel obsessive and anxious rather than nourished, then it doesn't matter how much kale you’re eating or almond milk you're drinking, you’re NOT actually supporting your health.
In the guise of wellness, a lifestyle approach that asks you to eat less on set days, cut out certain foods or food groups is NOT healthy. The majority of the population has no need to exclude food groups for health / medical reasons.
This creates stress; a pre-occupation with eating, over thinking food and a panic about your health. Setting unnecessary food rules and physical deprivation are the primary drivers for feeling out of control around food!
If you really value and want to pursue 'better health', then it’s important to understand that food is just a small part of the equation. Your mental health, access to quality and compassionate healthcare and eliminating weight stigma are far more important. Look at the bigger picture.
I talk a lot about the benefits of intuitive eating and harms of dieting (in whichever guise it takes). I want to reassure you there IS a way of letting go of the diet mentality.
If you want to let go of diets and the diet mentality, why not email me at mel@wakemannutrition to find out more or book in a 30 minute call