Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ditching the Diet Mentality

I bet that if you’re reading this, you’ve been on some form of a self-prescribed “diet” at one point or another, as I have. In fact, going on a “diet” was part of my routine for a number of years. I’d usually restrict my eating in some form for a few weeks or months, sometimes in preparation for a special event or “bikini season,” and once I’d reached my goal weight I’d resume normal eating (or even go a little overboard due to the restriction) and gain the weight back – and then do it all again a few months later.

I’m sure that many of you guys can relate, and, sadly, it’s not even remotely surprising. We’ve literally been conditioned as a society to accept dieting and diet culture as normalcy, a part of everyday life. But what does the word “diet” even mean, at its very core definition? To find out, I turned to good ol’ Merriam-Webster:

a: food and drink regularly provided or consumed
b : habitual nourishment
c : the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason
d : a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight going on a diet

Hmm… the last one kind of hits home, doesn’t it? Eating and drinking sparingly to reduce one’s weight. Ugh. Eating less and simultaneously being less – a hallmark of today’s standard diet structure – from low-carb to low-fat and everything in between. For example, just think of all those magazine covers that promise miracle diet results in [insert unrealistic amount of time]. Thankfully, I do believe we’ve made some progress in the healthy living community in terms of removing the word diet from our vocabulary and embracing what we eat and staying active as an overall lifestyle change, not something temporary – but despite the progress, the diet mentality still often remains.

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You guys know what I’m talking about: that non-stop tracker you’ve got going in the back of your mind estimating calories or daily steps; the feeling that a workout didn’t count if you didn’t sweat enough (or at all); the anxiety you feel when an unexpected event comes up and the only food option available is something you wouldn’t normally eat. Maybe you aren’t counting calories religiously, but you are still generally anxious about food and exercise, and live more by the rules rather than by intuition. This, my friends, is proof that you don’t need to be on a diet to have a diet mentality.

So what can we do to eliminate this whole thought process that’s become so ingrained? Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you feel stressed out in situations where you will have less control over what you are able to eat (i.e. a party, food festival, dinner at a friend’s house, long travel day)?
  2. Do you only seek out the healthiest or “cleanest” food options without checking in with your intuition first to see if that particular food is what you really want to eat?
  3. Do you find yourself restricting without even thinking about it, such as automatically saying no to seconds, an extra snack, or dessert without checking in with yourself because you are afraid of going overboard?
  4. Do you feel general anxiety, shame or guilt when you’ve eaten “off plan”?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above, it sounds like you might still be trapped in diet culture and need to find a way out ASAP. Below are three three ways to ditch the diet mentality and get yourself back on track with food freedom and eating intuitively.

Break the rules – because there are no rules

Fat makes you fat! Sugar is the devil! Dairy should be avoided at all costs! And on and on it goes. In fact, I’m pretty sure you could Google any food or food group and find a dozen articles touting why it’s the worst thing on the planet for you and why eating it will wreak havoc on your body. It’s easy to say we should just eat intuitively, but many of us have been conditioned to adhere to the diet mentality since we were very young. Our hunger, fullness, and satiation cues are probably all out of whack. If you struggle with placing too much structure around what you eat, then intentionally plan to break those “rules.” For example, use Friday nights as a time to eat something you wouldn’t normally, something you’d consider not so great for you or an indulgence. I know that this is commonly called a “cheat” meal, but I don’t like the negative connotation it brings at all. Remember: There are no rules, so there’s no such thing as cheating. By doing so, you’re giving yourself permission to cut loose and let go of rigidity, more for the mental benefit and less the physical.

Instead of labeling foods, consider how they make you feel

One day, you eat a sandwich for lunch. It has bread, meat, cheese, and all sorts of veggies. After eating it, you feel energetic, satisfied, and generally great – except a sandwich is a “bad” meal choice. The next day, you eat a salad with all the fixings – and you’re tired, bloated, and feeling icky. But you continue to eat that same salad despite how crappy it makes you feel because it’s “good” for you. This is a classic example of food labeling and assigning our food morality. But food is just food, period. Repeat with me: Food is just food. Whether you eat the sandwich or the salad, it doesn’t change who you are as a person. That’s why we need to focus on how we feel, not the food itself. The only foods that should be avoided are the ones you don’t want to eat or make you feel like crap – and sometimes even the latter is worth the stomachache once in a while!

The diet mentality doesn’t just impact what we eat, it also impacts our relationships and overall mental and physical health. Think about it – how many times have we gone out to lunch with friends and subconsciously judged the person who got salmon and steamed veggies as “being healthy” and the person who got a burger and fries as “unhealthy” or “cheating”? More importantly, how often have we judged ourselves this way? Just like we need to stop assigning food morality, we need to stop labeling ourselves as behaving good or bad based on what we eat. 

Focus on the marathon, not the sprint

To truly ditch the diet mentality, you need to get rid of the “diet” completely. How do you do that? By focusing on a sustainable eating plan that work for you and your lifestyle. For example, the paleo diet might be great for some people and may work for a short period of time, but if it’s not manageable long-term then it’s totally ok to make modifications or find your own new way of eating all together. That’s why I’m such a proponent of counting macros! It allows for you to make your healthy eating plan work for you – with your lifestyle in mind. If an unexpected trip or event comes up, you can still stick fairly close to foods that make you feel great while allowing for life to happen – and trust me, it will happen. In addition, macros are a guideline that you can follow most of the time, not all the time (see above for no food rules). I love tracking macros and prepping macro-friendly meals, but there are definitely days where I just don’t track at all – either because I am busy living my life or because I just want a break. Sometimes we just need to follow our guts when it comes to food – literally!

I know I’ve said this before, but food and guilt are two things that should never be associated with each other. Unfortunately, keeping them separate is no small feat given the diet mindset we’ve been conditioned to accept as normal. The next time you feel yourself becoming a little too strict with your diet, remember that you can only do the best you can at any given moment. Trying to control every morsel of food you put into your mouth 24/7 will not only be detrimental to your willpower, it can also set you up for a binge and restrict cycle. Sometimes we have to consciously practice food freedom – I truly believe tracking macros can give you this freedom while providing balance in your diet at the same time. Once we make a habit of it, it will eventually become second nature – and, at the end of the day, I just want us all to be happy with our food choices.

Question of the Day

What’s the hardest part about ditching the diet mentality? 

from Carrots 'N' Cake

Testimonial: Years Of Symptoms Cured In 1 Week

Robb, you literally changed my life a few years ago.

I had been suffering for years from depression and bipolar disorder until I decided to do something about it and take care of my own health.

My journey to reading your Paleo Diet book started with omega-3 milk I had purchased at a grocery store. After drinking it for a few days, my head felt lighter, clearer than it had for a long while. I felt more energy, more motivation than I ever had in my short lifetime of 21 years at the time.

Feeling such immediate results without even expecting it, I discovered how important it is to lead a healthy lifestyle by getting rid of the junk (food).

I started researching omega-3s more, asked professors about the importance of fats in the diet, and finally searched for a good Paleo diet book to read more into the “perfect human diet.” And that is what led me to your Paleo Diet book.

After reading your book, I immediately changed my diet cold turkey.

The 100+ grams of refined sugars I used to consume in a day (yikes!) went to 0 g, and in about a week’s time of doing this I already felt better than I ever have in my entire life. I pursued this for months later, and saw the physical changes to my body: a leaner, more muscular frame (people even started asking me if I “had been going to the gym more lately” when I hadn’t changed my exercise routine at all!); and my friends noted that my skin and hair were “glowing” from the newfound health I had achieved.

Most importantly though, your book led me to overcome the depression and bipolar disorder symptoms I had been suffering from for YEARS. In just a month, my head was clearer and more stable than what it had been for years.

I will always admire your work and dedication to finding the most effective human diet for people like me. Your book has been one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read to this day, even 5 years after reading it.

Thank you so much for your achievement. Thank you so much for sharing your similar story and showing me that there is a way to overcome the “impossible”–mental disorders–without the need for unnatural medication. You rock! I’ll always be a fan of yours from afar.

Chloe Martianou

from The Paleo Diet

Baby #2: The Hospital Bag and 5 Things I’m Doing To Get Ready For Birth

36 weeks along and baby could come sooner rather than later! My hospital bag is packed, and I thought I’d share with you what I am bringing along plus some things I’m doing to prepare for birth! Here’s the video version for optimal wordiness ( 🙂 ) and photos below for those of you who can’t watch the video. (FYI, you might have to turn off an adblocker to see it.)


To summarize what I’m packing, most of it is for after the birth! I know from doing this before at the same hospital that I don’t really need much to actually labor and have the baby. Here are the two posts I reference for packing my bag with Mazen (these posts were so helpful for me to reference this time around!): Packing The Hospital Bag and Hospital Bag Reflections.

Here’s a list of what’s in my bag this time around:

For Me

  • Day-after PJs and lightweight robe
  • Day 2 PJ bottoms and a more cozy robe/sweater in case it’s cold
  • 2 nursing tanks
  • 2 nursing shirts
  • My going-home outfit (leggings, nursing tank, wrap shirt)
  • THIN PADS (because no one wants to sit on a maxi!)
  • Nursing pads (because I had to wear these for a year last time)
  • Going-home granny underwear
  • Slippers + socks
  • 3 nursing bras (in case one gets leaked on, etc)
  • 1 going-home bra
  • Bathing suit top that I don’t think I’ll wear in the tub, but I might…
  • Nursing cover (for when visitors are around)
  • All toiletries I would need for a weekend away, including nice-smelling shampoo, make up and jewelry because I want to look nice!

For Baby

  • Day-after outfit that matches mine :mrgreen:
  • 2 other outfits for cuteness (I remember Mazen’s day after shirt was so big!)
  • 1 going-home outfit and hat
  • 2 swaddle/snuggle blankets (for cute pictures!)
  • One nice-looking burp cloth
  • Diaper bag for everything to go in

To Pack At The Last Minute

  • Car seat
  • Boppy
  • Home pillows x2
  • Wallet with ID and insurance card
  • iPhone chargers x2
  • Apple Watch charger
  • Macbook + charger
  • Kindles x2
  • Hair dryer (something I wished I’d had last time)

Am I missing anything?!

Leaving At Home This Time

  • Snacks and food
  • Pacis
  • Diapers
  • Baby mittens
  • Books
  • Speaker
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Tablet
  • DSLR (iPhone photos FTW!)

On the planning front, I’m also doing a few things every day to get ready for birth.


1 // Eating Dates!

Most often I have them on a spoon with peanut butter for a snack. This article (with links to research inside) has me convinced dates have magic powers. Plus, I love them!

2 // Drinking raspberry leaf tea

Raspberry leaf tea is supposed to tone the uterus muscles, shorten labor, and prevent excessive bleeding. I’m trying to have one or two cups per day. I make a big french press, add some honey, have one mug hot and then sip it cold the next few days. I like both the tea and dates, so I don’t really mind if they “work” or not. At the minimum, the placebo effect always helps!

3 // Working on a yoga ball

My friend Lynsie lent me her yoga ball so I can sit and rock around while I work at my desk. I’ve heard it’s good to keep your knees lower than your hips, and I try to move around more than if I were sitting immobile in a chair.

4 // Squatting and cat/cowing before bed

At bedtime I’m doing Malasana squat on a yoga block. I reached out to my Facebook mom’s group and borrowed two yoga blocks from another mom. I’m sitting on one each night for a few minutes. It’s my favorite pose we do in prenatal yoga, and I find it really relaxing and helpful for my low back too. It’s also good to get all those pelvic ligaments all loosened up! I’m also trying to do a handful of cat/cow stretches and pelvic circles on my bed each night before getting in. This all takes a total of 3-5 minutes, so it’s not a lot. Also I should add “staying active” as an assumed bullet to this list. Walking a little every day at the min!

5 // Prenatal yoga, chiropractic + massage

I’ve been doing all of these throughout my pregnancy, because I’m a big believer that if the body is aligned and limber, the delivery will go smoother. So I have appointments scheduled for these both in the next few weeks and I’m trying to make sure I get to at least one yoga class per week.

I’m also talking to the baby and making him feel safe and welcome, listening to birth stories, and watching Ina May Gaskin on You Tube! (I love her mantra “You’re gonna get huge!“)

Tell me some of the things you did to both physically and mentally prepare?

from Kath Eats Real Food