Updated: Oct 7
A “dieting mentality” is an all-or-nothing view that focuses on numbers and temporary goals. It often involves rules, limits, and judgmental statements. Your decision to eat or not eat depends on what you think you should do, rather than what you want to do. Diet mentality refers to the thoughts, beliefs and perceptions that either linger from past dieting experiences, or that have been shaped and reinforced by the diet culture. Diet mentality attaches morality with eating. It perpetuates feelings of guilt and shame. Therefore, when you eat a “bad” food, extreme guilt and self-judgement follow suit.
A diet mentality usually means:
1 - Following some sort of meal plan or set of food rules.
2 - Being told what to eat, when to eat, why to eat and how much to eat.
3 - Something you do with one goal in mind: To lose weight or to get “fit."
A “non-dieting mentality” means trusting your body and listening to your instincts. It means heeding hunger and fullness, caring about your health, and being physically active because it makes you feel good. It is realizing that happiness involves a healthy lifestyle rather than a certain weight or diet.
Diet Mentality: How can you ditch it?
Step 1: Recognize your diet mentality thoughts as they pop up. Try to simply notice, without judgement. Start separating the diet thoughts in your mind and replace negative thoughts with statements of compassion, kindness, understanding and permission.
Step 2: Start writing down dieting rules you used to engage in. Are they scientifically true or was this taught to you from past dieting experiences?
Step 3: Work on challenging one food rule at a time. Replace previously labeled “forbidden” foods, with the thoughts that foods aren't forbidden, they are just not the right choices of foods that will enhance my overall health.
Step 4: Start trusting your body and listening to your instincts. Become educated on which foods enhance your health and well-being. Learn to recognize when you are truly hungry and when you are just bored, and learn to recognize when you are full.
Step 5: Give yourself credit for your progress. Start a journal how you feel when you give yourself permission to make "healthy" choices, and not just "diet" choices.