The secret to Mindful eating for the Soul and Not the Scale

Image: Marchan, Gabrielle and Ryan Kelly, Jennifer. Meditation Illustration. JPG. June 2021.

Ditching the Diet

In the Summer of Self-Love

You’re More Than Enough

Diet culture carves its way through nearly every type of media we consume, pressuring us to follow strict rules about when, how, and what we should eat. It’s exhausting, limiting, and harmful. This summer, defy the diet culture’s unrealistic standards and live a life filled with self-love!

Affirmations For Ditching the Diet and Embracing the Summer of Self-Love

1. Today I will unapologetically listen to my body and honor its needs. 

2. I choose overall well-being over diets that are limiting.

3. My existence is not about how desirable others find me. I am not alive for that purpose.

4. The foods I choose to eat don’t make me a good or bad person.

affirmations for ditching diet culture and living a life without constraining diets

Kelly Ryan, Jennifer. Affirmations. PNG. June 2021.

Portrait of Alexis Conason, a dietitian and activist against diet culture

Alexis Conanson. 2021. JPG

A Mindful Eating Q & A With Alexis Conason

Alexis Conason, PSY.D., CEDS-S, is a clinical psychologist, certified eating disorder specialist-supervisor in private practice in New York City.

Alexis is the author of The Diet Free Revolution: 10 Steps to Free Yourself from the Diet Cycle with Mindful Eating and Radical Self-Acceptance (Available for Pre-order, June 2021, North Atlantic Books).

Dr. Conason advocates fiercely for people to stop fixating on losing weight and reclaim the space they deserve in the world, starting with the recognition and questioning of the societal norms that encourage feelings of inadequacy. You can find her on social media @theantidietplan.

What should we know about ditching diet culture?

It starts with recognizing diet culture. We have to see the system we have all been operating in to start changing it. When we can open our eyes to some of the lies diet culture has sold and how ingrained it is in our culture, we can start to opt out.

If you feel scared about ditching diet culture and practicing mindful eating, that’s totally normal. It is a brave decision to let go of a system you’ve been living in for many years. But, it is a worthwhile journey […].

Why don’t diets work?

The fundamental premise of dieting is that we have to fight against our own bodies. But that just ends up fighting against our natural physiology. 

 

We have a powerful system in the primal part of our brain, and we’re hardwired to keep ourselves alive. When we are trying to override our internal signals, we fight against this powerful inner physiology. And over time, that tends to be a losing battle.

 

As we restrict our intake and start to lose weight, our body starts to think a crisis is happening and starts sending us even stronger signals to eat. Even if you start a diet and lose weight, most people end up regaining it due to our physiology.

Unfortunately, diet culture convinces us that when we regain weight, it is our fault, when in reality, our physiology makes restrictive diets unsustainable in the first place.

What is mindful eating?

Mindfulness is the practice of really honing in on the present moment. It allows us to hear what our body is telling us. Ultimately, it allows us to begin trusting our bodies as our guides. When we start to practice mindfulness, we can start to hear out body’s signals differently. 

You get that experiential trust that my body does know what it’s doing. If I listen to it, it will lead me in a good direction. 

What role does mindful eating play when it comes to ditching diets for good?

People feel like they don’t have that internal guidance and instead listen to this external diet plan that says eat this and eat that at this specific time. And for most of us, we become very disconnected from what our body is telling us.

Mindful eating can help us transition away from diet culture because we have that structure within us. Our body tells us when we are hungry, when we feel satisfied, and what kinds of foods we want to eat.

What’s the difference between mindful eating and intuitive eating?

The practice of intuitive eating and mindful eating has a lot of overlap […]. Essentially, intuitive eating has more structure, while mindful eating focuses on being present while eating and listening to what your body has to say.

Do you have any tips to get started with mindful eating?

The idea of ‘just eat what you want when you want’ can be totally overwhelming for someone who feels they can’t trust their body. Fortunately, caring for yourself in a radically different way through mindfulness can help you find freedom in food, which gets lost in diet culture.

First, you need to understand that diets don’t work. When we hold onto this idea that dieting will work, it is tough to start trusting your body. So, we have to understand that [we can achieve] the things we think will come from weight loss in our current body.

To get started with mindful eating, try focusing on your breath. It doesn’t have to be for a long amount of time. It could just be a three-minute meditation practice that you can work into your daily routine.

What does meditation have to do with ditching diet culture?

Meditation creates new pathways in our brain that encourage us to be more present, extending to our eating experiences. Meditation skills help you hear what your body is saying.

Young sporty fit woman doing yoga outdoors - meditation and relaxing in Padmasana (Lotus Pose) with chin mudra on green grass in forest.

What are the benefits of mindful eating and ditching diets?

Three young woman eating ice cream cones at the seaside as they stroll along a waterfront promenade on a hot summer day during their vacationIn a way, we get double benefits when we ditch diets and choose to practice mindful eating.

First, we are escaping the harm that dieting and diet culture puts on us.

On the other hand, when we shift away from that and move towards mindful eating, we enjoy an improved body image, decreased stress, more joy from food, and less conflict around food.

It’s Time to Ditch Diet Culture for Good

This summer, challenge the demands of diet culture by practising self-love. Listen to your body and honor its needs. Remind yourself that you deserve to nourish your mind and body. Remind yourself that your worth is not dependent on what you look like. Diets don’t work. But, listening to your body and honoring its needs does.

Check out our article on Break Free from Your Diet Jail with the Anti-Diet Movement for some encouragement to ditch the diet once and for all.

Help others ditch diet culture

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Olivia deGregory

Written by Audrey Madison