Updated: Dec 17, 2021
As a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, wellness coach and holistic nutritionist in Ann Arbor, I know that practicing Intuitive Eating is one of the ways that we can take back control of our health from those who want to profit from our fears, comparisons, and insecurities. Over the next few months, this blog will be highlighting the principles of Intuitive Eating-an evidence-based strategy of reestablishing healthy relationship with food.
Principle #1: Reject the Diet Mentality
Reflect On Your Experience with Diet Mentality
To begin, it might be helpful to take a moment to reflect on your experience with diet culture and diet mentality:
What do you notice about your relationship with food, weight, and self-worth?
Where did you first hear the myth that there are “good” or “bad” foods?
When did you start becoming aware of your body size and connecting value statements to it?
When did you notice messaging from media or people in your life about your body size or shape?
Somewhere along the way, dieters develop the idea that there is only one body size or shape that is acceptable. Family, friends, media, and even physicians can help perpetuate that fear of being unacceptable.
Diet culture continuously makes promises it can’t keep.
It promises you the love that you want, success that you desire, control that you crave, and a sense of belonging…if you only reach a certain size.
Because we want all of those things and dieting seems feasible, we fall into diet mentality. Then, when it doesn’t work (because diets don’t work), we feel overwhelmed with failure. If we don’t meet our goals, or gain the weight back, or overeat, or “blow our diet,” we feel shame. That shame is incredibly damaging.
We have been sold a big lie by an industry that makes billions of dollars a year producing and preying on our anxieties, insecurities, and misinformation. Globally, the diet industry brings in almost $300 billion per year. In the United States alone, the diet industry grosses over $70 billion per year.
This is a multi-billion dollar business that makes a profit telling people that they aren’t good enough! If one’s weight or clothing size is over a certain number, then they are sorted into the “out group,” ostracized, and dismissed.
Diet culture and diet mentality take advantage of and exploit our deepest human need of belonging.
In addition to fracturing our sense of belonging, diet mentality
Steals your peace.
Creates and increases biases not only against ourselves, but against others.
Closes doors to opportunities for people who do not fit a certain shape or size.
Increases weight stigma.
Creates and perpetuates disordered eating
If I sound angry, it’s because I am.
And getting angry at diet mentality is one of the steps toward rejecting it (Tribole and Resch, 2020.).
As I’ve written recently, I’m about to become a mother to a daughter. My passion for dismantling diet culture as a holistic nutritionist & intuitive eating coach has been present for a number of years, but it feels even more urgent as I wait to welcome my child. I want her to grow up with completely different messages than I had about my body and without the constant assault of diet culture messages. I don’t want her to grow up equating her value or health to a number on the scale or on a tag inside a shirt.
I don’t want you to equate your health or value to that either.
In a world where “dieting is viewed as virtuous (Tribole and Resch, 2020, p.69),” the idea of rejecting said dieting can feel odd and foreign.
As you navigate the idea of rejecting diet mentality, be kind to yourself. You won’t be able to unlearn diet mentality overnight. If you have a diet mentality, you likely had it thrust upon you by someone or something, even if it wasn’t intentional.
The great news is that you get to choose what you do with diet mentality. You don’t have to keep it. You can change your relationship with food and your body. You can learn to allow your needs to supersede any external messaging.
You can also choose to give yourself grace. It takes time to change. Part of my joy as a holistic nutritionist & intuitive eating coach is to help you build a healthy relationship to food and your body.
Change can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re needing guidance, please reach out to my team for a complimentary consultation.
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2020). Intuitive eating: A revolutionary anti-diet approach. St. Martin's Essentials.
Katie Valley is a Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor whose goal is to dispel the myths of diet culture and reinforce a holistic, health-focused approach to wellness. After her own experience with disordered eating and poor body image, Katie found true healing by practicing Intuitive Eating and Body Acceptance.
Now she has her own practice, Katie Valley Wellness, where she helps women who feel out of control around food learn to eat intuitively, pursue TRUE health, & feel confident in their own body.