A Guide to Diet Deprogramming

That’s right – ditch the calorie counting, weight obsessing, and carb avoiding, and let article help you with some diet deprogramming. The diet culture of today interferes with our natural-born selves: intuitive eaters. If we remove ourselves from this diet culture, we are left with eating when we are hungry, stopping when we are full, and following cravings. Yes, if you want a cupcake, eat it! With that being said, nutrition still matters. It is important to focus on how different foods make you feel instead of placing moral value on them.

This non-diet approach of intuitive eating has made its way into the public eye as people are trying to disconnect from chronic dieting and return to a grassroots relationship with food. Research supports the positive psychological and physical well-being benefits from this healthy adaptive eating style. Intuitive eating was first presented in the form of nutrition education in 1995 by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. In their book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works, they encourage readers to eat what they want, when they want, and how much they want using these following ten principles:

Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality. This is a challenging first step for many individuals as it may be encompassed by fear. The physical act of dieting may be over, but dieting thoughts can remain, such as saying to yourself “I won’t be able to stop eating!” Start with recognizing any damage that dieting has done and make peace with it. While you’re at it, part with your scale. You won’t need it anymore.
  2. Honor Your Hunger. Hunger may manifest itself in different ways. Start to notice what hunger and fullness feel like. For example, are you hungry at a certain time of day because you are used to eating at that time, or are you physically hungry?
  3. Make Peace With Food. Lets face it, placing foods off limits backfires. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat.
  4. Challenge the (Inner) Food Police. Most of us have probably boarded the “I can’t eat after 8 PM” train at one point in our lives. Through intuitive eating, we must remind ourselves that food does NOT have moral value. You are not being “bad” for having a piece of chocolate cake! Instead of guilt or judgement, transition to having a neutral observation. For example, say to yourself “I noticed I ate past fullness today. Was I too hungry when I started the meal?”
  5. Respect Your Fullness. Sometimes we overlook the feeling of fullness. Try to build pauses into meals, limit mealtime distractions, and take time to notice what fullness feels like. Fullness will then become your friend, not foe!
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. Give yourself permission to experience pleasure from food and the eating experience!
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Foods. Sometimes we may lean on food to cope with certain emotions. Try going for a walk or calling a friend as a way of reacting to an emotional situation, instead of doing so with food.
  8. Respect Your Body. You don’t have to love your body but respect it and all that it does for you.
  9. Exercise – Feel the Difference. Make movement something you CAN do, rather than something you MUST do. Try activities that you enjoy and make it a goal to move every day.
  10. Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition. Build satisfying meals and snacks with a protein, carbohydrate, fat, and fruit or veggie. Well-rounded meals and snacks will leave you reaching for unhealthy food items less often, and more mindfully.

By incorporating any one of these 10 steps into your life, you will become more confident in yourself when choosing the foods to eat, without all the guilt and anxiety. The perfect time to start is NOW.