Dec. 22. 2021
Reframing
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Are you looking to stop dieting and reclaim balance with the way you nourish yourself? If so, you’ve come to the right place. 

Letting go of diets and plans is such a beautiful first step in reclaiming balance with the way you nourish yourself. It allows you to create a positive food experience and care for your wellbeing. But in order to find and maintain a more balanced approach to your eating habits, you not only have to stop dieting, but you also have to reframe your thoughts about food.

You have to reframe the role that food plays in your life. It can no longer be a means of control, fuel to the “perfectionist” fire, or a pawn in the all-or-nothing cycle. Food has to be a unique, easeful component of your life. One that allows you to nourish yourself with joy, void of stress.  

These key shifts in how you think about nutrition will help prevent you from feeling pulled back into the diet cycle. They’ll allow you to replace those old habits with new, supportive and sustainable habits.

What Does A Diet Mentality Look Like?

In order to stop dieting for good, we need to know and understand what the diet mentality actually looks like. 

A diet mentality is focused on the short-term. What is the fastest, quickest way I can see a result? It’s also focused on extreme, polarizing actions and thoughts. Such as swinging from hyper-focusing on what we’re eating, how we’re eating and when, to deciding that it’s not worth it so you should only focus on instant gratification only.

It also involves food rules, and strict ones at that. Such as telling yourself that you must eat something or should never eat something else. These food rules are often based on what has worked for someone else, or what they swear to be the “key” to your success.

A diet cycle or mentality is never-ending. There’s always another detox, plan, or protocol that looks better, more enticing, or more rigid. And despite the fact that so many diets failed to meet your expectations previously, the next one still looks so much better. 

This mentality is strenuous and exhausting. It leads to burnout, food stress, and food guilt. Is any of this ringing a bell? I’m willing to bet it does. So to get you out of this mentality, let’s talk about the three shifts you can make today. 

The Shifts to Make When You’re Ready to Stop Dieting For Good

To create consistency with your eating habits, you first have to stop dieting and following restrictive food rules. Instead of working against your body, you need to start working with it. 

In order to do that, you also have to shift the way you build your eating habits so they best support you for the long term. We’re not looking for a 10-day or 30-day fix here, we’re looking for a long-term, sustainable and maintainable change. 

So let’s dive into how exactly you can start making that change.

1. Focus on Long-term Change Instead of Short-term Results

The very first shift that needs to happen is to take the focus away from short-term results. We’re focussing on long-term change from now on instead!

When you go on a diet, in most cases it’s because you’re seeking to achieve a specific goal in a short period of time. That may sound like, “I need to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks.”, or “How can I go down two sizes by the end of this month?”. These are examples of short-term results you may be focused on when looking for a new diet to try.

However, when you’re ready to stop dieting, you have to be willing to let go of thinking about achieving an unrealistic result in a specific amount of time. Instead, your goal needs to be focused on the long term.

Focussing on the long term involves forming habits that are supportive and sustainable. If they’re supporting and sustainable, they work for you on a daily basis.

When you’re able to look at nutrition information and advice through this lens, and ask yourself — will this support my body, my lifestyle, and the vision I have for myself in the long-term — you’ll be able to go down a much more intentional, healthy, and long-lasting path. You’ll feel empowered and confident in your inner “knowing” that you’re taking the right actions for you!

This aligns so well with the second shift that needs to happen – shifting away from striving to be perfect with your eating habits and towards flexibility and compassion. 

2. Allow for Flexibility Rather Than Trying to Eat “Perfectly”

When you’re on a diet, you’re provided with a list of strict rules you have to follow. Those rules aren’t flexible and applicable to your individual lifestyle, you have to follow them perfectly in order to see the results you’re looking for.

This mindset around eating “perfectly” actually makes it more difficult for you to simply eat well. It often puts you into an all-or-nothing mindset. You’re either “all-in” and focused on eating for nourishment only, or you’re “all-out” where you believe if you’re not being perfect, there’s no point at all. You’ll just have to restart another day.

This all-or-nothing mentality can be incredibly draining on your physical and mental wellbeing.

It can seem counterintuitive, but the best way to create more consistency with the way you nourish yourself is to have more flexibility. This allows you to enjoy all the foods you like in a mindful, intentional way, rather than being restrictive.

When you have this flexibility, food that once made you feel out of control no longer holds any power over you. You can mindfully and intentionally choose when you’d like to have it, or when you’d like to go without it. 

You’re able to rewrite the script of your life and your eating habits. It’s flexibility, not control or rigidness, that invites so much more ease into your food choices.

3. Tune Into Your Own Body Rather Than Following Food Rules

The third big shift that needs to happen is releasing the food rules you may be holding onto from diets.

Some common food rules involve restricting carbs and creating specific eating schedules. Others set rules around counting calories and ignoring your hunger cues. 

All of the food rules you were following — such as the labeling of “good” foods and “bad” foods, and the focus on short-term results versus long-term wellbeing — all influence your mindset around food and your eating behaviors.

Even when you’ve decided to stop dieting, these old beliefs and habits are more often than not still hanging around. They can unintentionally pull you towards that all-in or all-out mentality. This inadvertently causes you to fall back into old habits, even when you know they’re not right for you.

Does this sound like you?

While reading this, you’ll likely notice that you have these old habits. You may realize that they’re even guiding your current eating behaviors. As a result, they may be preventing you from having trust and confidence in your own body.

We instead want to remove these old habits and tendencies. We want to develop an understanding of what works best for us individually. To develop ease and work with the body as opposed to working against it. 

It becomes so much easier for you to make food choices that support you because you’re confident in why something does or does not work for you, rather than feeling like you need to follow specific food rules because a diet, plan, or influencer told you to.

This is where you experience a deep sense of peace around food. You’re no longer hopping from diet to diet or trend to trend. You’re no longer trying to find something that you can “stick to” or that’s some “ideal” version of health.

Instead, you have this inner knowing of what you need to do for yourself. Additionally, you don’t get distracted by short-term fixes or overwhelmed by keeping up with the latest trends.

This deep understanding of what works for you keeps you focused on the long-term and on making changes that are truly going to support you for life.

Discover the Practices That Will Support You to Stop Dieting and Find Balance

These three reframes are key to creating a long-lasting, supportive, and balanced way of nourishing yourself. By reshaping how you think about food and the role nutrition plays in your life, you’re able to take your life back into your own hands for good.

If you’re ready to let go of diets, you also have to focus on integrating new practices into your life that support you with nourishing yourself and finding the right balance.

New practices include listening to your body’s cues, developing a flexible approach to nourishment and enjoyment, all the while focussing on long-term change rather than a short-term quick fix. 

That’s exactly what I cover during my free masterclass. Sign up to learn How To Break Free From The Diet And Food Obsession Starting Now. 

You don’t need to stress and obsess about food. There is a better way, and yes it’s possible to cultivate a positive relationship with food! Join this free balanced eating masterclass to learn how.

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