What to do when you fall off the diet wagon
Ok, so we all know how this goes. You’ve set out on your latest lifestyle programme/healthy eating plan/diet (insert diet here) for 2018. On the 1st Jan you are SET. This is the one that going to stick to. This one FEELS different. You are motivated! You are mentally strong! You are visualising the shit out that new body you’re going to get, you’re managing to say no to all the ‘bad things’ like cake and fun, and you’re feeling like, yes - this is IT!
But come mid-Feb… ugh. The enthusiasm is waning, the call for that glass of wine, dessert or winter comfort food is returning and suddenly *BAM* you’re on a slippery slope. You start to ‘cheat’ on your plan, you’re eating irrationally and the guilt sets in.
Before you know it, you think 'fuck it' and all hell lets loose possibly mentally, you may feel out of control, lost and full of guilt and shame. You may be able to get your headspace back to a place where you feel you can ‘start again’, after all, it was just one slip up! But too easily the same thing happens again.
When you slip up and feel you can't get back - it can leave you feeling like a failure.
There’s nothing worse than guilt and shame taking over your thoughts. These negative thoughts tell yourself that you’ve done something wrong. Diets make you think that you’re a weak person but being unable to stick to them. Those before and after photos make it look easy but it’s simply not true.
Diets are failing YOU.
So what do you do when you fall off the diet wagon (it could be in Feb or July or November) it doesn’t matter when it is...
Here are SIX tips to give yourself a break to stop you from plunging into the depths of despair over diet failure:
- Be kind. Throw kindness all over yourself, even if it’s difficult. You have not failed. Diets are setting you up for failure because you're literally going against your natural biology. The sad reality is, it’s really difficult to change your body. Don’t let the magazines fool you. Be kind to the fact your body was trying to tell you something - and you listened by giving it up! Eating is a biological necessity - it’s meant to be something that makes you feel good, not shitty. Be kind to yourself, your body was trying to tell you something and deep down, you knew it.
- Learn about diet mentality. All the latest research that says, diets do not work. 90% of dieters put all the weight back on (plus more) within 5 years. Honestly, it’s not you, it’s them. Why? Because the minute we put an internal restriction on our eating, it causes mental stress and anxiety - you’re setting yourself up to fail when you go against biology.
- Tune in to your body. Make a note of the thing that made you slip up… what was your body saying to you? Are you eating against instead of with the seasons? Do you need some carbs? Something sweet? When we can start to listen to our bodies and give ourselves what we need, we don’t need to slip into binges. A plate of pasta here, a brownie there - this is a normal way to eat. When you give yourself permission, there’s no rules to rebel again and you learn to have as much or little of whatever it is that you need. This is where Intuitive Eating comes in - it’s about relearning how to listen to our internal cues on hunger and fullness (without judgement)
Time to re-programme those thoughts. You do not need to change your body to be happier - you just have to change your mind. But there are some healthful practices which will make you feel better. Think about the qualities which diets try to sell you e.g. Health, lightness, glowing skin etc. All these things can be achieved WITHOUT dieting. e.g. less alcohol and more water will give your skin a boost. Incorporating some more exercise into your week (even just gentle) will give you a lightness that you’re looking for. Stop reading women’s magazines - this will give you the freedom to become the person you want to be. If you’re a visual person, create a vision board on Pinterest of images that represent those particular qualities. Don’t forget - thin does NOT equal health or happiness.
- Create a tribe of anti-dieters. Build a community who you can call on when you’re tempted to get back on the diet wagon. Find the people who are driving the rebellion to change. Diets are making up conform to one standard of beauty that is rooted in Western, ableist, privilege. Seek out friends who might want to join you. Stay out of diet talk at work or with your friends. Stay strong to the knowledge that diets don’t work and that by giving them up, you’ll be happier in the long run.
Play the long game. Diet’s sell you short-term dreams - from 2 week blasts to 6 weeks plans and 6 month lifestyle changes - this is still a super short amount of time! Create an affirmation. It can take a long time to undo diet mentality. Create a phrase which you can put on repeat in times when you’re tempted to get back on a diet - ‘I know that this path is the best for my mind and body’, or ‘I am learning to connect to my body’, ‘no quick fix will create a happy balance’.
Real sustainable healing between the relationship between food and your body takes a long time and it is hard, but you can do it!
Giving up dieting is the first steps to a happier relationship. Find out more about working with me here for freedom for body insecurities, diet culture and to feel happy in your skin for good.