If I ditch diets, how can I be healthy?
If you’ve followed me for some time you have likely heard my anti-diet rhetoric – the riot against diets as I often call it!
If you’re like me, you’ve likely spent most of your life being taught that in order to be healthy we have to have a healthy weight and to be a healthy weight we need to diet, or restrict certain foods, to eat clean per se. So it can be really confusing and sometimes confronting when someone tells you they recommend that you stop dieting.
You may have images of being out of control around food, you may think you’ll just eat all the foods you’ve restricted all the time. Maybe dieting makes you feel in control. Maybe you’ve been taught that it’s the only way to be healthy and so going against diets might feel like going against health. Scary!
Rest assured, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
I won’t go into great length telling you about the harms of dieting. If you’ve been on more than one diet in your life, you’ve likely experienced them yourself, and maybe even blamed yourself if the diet didn’t work, assuming it was a fault in your willpower and not the diet itself. I can assure you, it isn’t you. Diets set you up to fail for so many reasons. And because I am someone who is supporting people to improve their health – I can’t ethically recommend dieting for health.
But, I do encourage healthy behaviours because that’s what makes us feel great! Being anti-diet doesn’t mean being anti-health; in fact, it is a pro-health journey that focuses on fostering healthy behaviours, prioritizing how we feel over appearance, supporting all bodies equally, and reconnecting with our body’s innate wisdom
So, how is being anti-diet being pro-health?
- Increasing healthy behaviours
Unlike traditional diets that often centre around strict rules and quick fixes, the anti-diet movement places emphasis on cultivating healthy behaviours that support our overall well-being. Rather than obsessing over calorie counts or the number on the scale, we learn to prioritize nourishing our bodies with wholesome, nutritious foods. Regular physical activity becomes an act of self-love and a celebration of what our bodies can achieve. Adequate rest, hydration, and stress management become essential components of our wellness toolkit. By focusing on these sustainable habits, we create a positive environment where our bodies can thrive.
- Feeling good is the focus rather than shrinking our bodies
In a world fixated on shrinking bodies, the anti-diet movement reminds us that health is not determined solely by appearance. The relentless pursuit of an “ideal” body can lead to disordered eating patterns and negative self-image. Embracing anti-diet principles encourages us to shift our focus from external validation to internal well-being. We start to appreciate our bodies for their strength, resilience, and capacity for joy. Self-care becomes a priority, and we learn to accept and love ourselves as we are, fostering a positive relationship with our bodies.
- Supporting all bodies equally
The heart of the anti-diet movement lies in the principle of Health at Every Size (HAES). This approach rejects weight-based discrimination and advocates for equal access to support and resources for people of all body sizes. It recognizes that health is multifaceted and unique to each individual. By embracing HAES, we create an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone’s health journey is respected and valued, regardless of their appearance.
- Reconnecting with body signals
Diet culture often encourages us to disconnect from our body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness due to strict rules around when/what/how to eat. The anti-diet movement invites us to reestablish this connection through intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is a mindful approach to nourishment that encourages us to listen to our body’s cues, honouring hunger and respecting fullness. By tuning in to our body’s wisdom, we can build a healthier and more balanced relationship with food, leading to improved digestion, increased energy levels, and a greater sense of satisfaction with our meals.
It supports people to learn to listen to their bodies again, noticing feelings of hunger and fullness that diet culture has robbed from us.
The anti-diet movement is a powerful paradigm shift that encourages us to prioritize our overall well-being, embrace the beauty and diversity of all bodies and cultivate a more mindful and compassionate relationship with food. By being pro-health through anti-diet principles, we can break free from the damaging effects of diet culture and find a path to genuine happiness and fulfilment.
If you’re ready, or even just a bit curious about this new way of looking at health and wellness, we’d love to help.