Here’s the thing about diet culture: It’s tricky. Oh, so tricky.
So tricky that you can truly and honestly believe that you’re not dieting — and instead, you’re certain that you’re just taking steps to being healthier. But — here comes the hard truth — you’re still actually dieting.
We know. It’s a mind you-know-what. But the first step of breaking through is acknowledging what’s actually up, so that you can truly bust that pattern.
That’s right; info is power!
(You can even see a video we did on this here.)
13 Signs You’re Dieting Without Even Realizing It
1. You can’t seem to break the all-or-nothing thinking. We’ve heard women we’ve worked with go through this over and over again. I’m done dieting, but I can’t seem to get out of the all-or-nothing thinking. Turns out, the essence of dieting IS all-or-nothing on-again / off-again thinking. Which means that, although you may not be on a diet with a catchy name, you’ve got the mindset of dieting. (Good thing we have a few resources to help with that here, eh?)
2. You have “good days” and “bad days.” Diet culture teaches you that when you eat a certain way you and your day is “good,” and when you don’t, you and your day are “bad.” When living a non-diet lifestyle, you just have days.
3. You weigh yourself daily (if not more). Another sneaky sign is that you can’t stay off the scale — and that the number affects your mood and self confidence (for better or worse).
4. You count up the calories or carbs or SOMETHING every time you eat. Diets are built on counting — and often lead to obsessive and compulsive tracking.
5. You don’t eat when you’re hungry. Instead of eating from true hunger, diets teach you to eat when it’s time or when you’re “supposed to.”
6. You work out harder when you’ve overeaten or are planning to eat unhealthy foods. If you feel the need to “burn off,” well, anything, you can go ahead and blame dieting for that mindset and approach.
7. If you know you’re going to have a heavy meal, you don’t eat before it. Similar to no. 5 and no. 6, if you’re not honoring your hunger in any way — boom! — dieting.
8. You have “fat days” and “skinny days.” Fat is not a feeling. Neither is skinny. Here’s why.
9. You think you don’t have as much willpower as other people. This is another myth diet culture teaches us: that we can all do it and stick to a diet … if we work hard enough. Not true. First, willpower doesn’t work in the way we’ve been taught it does. And second, you can have all the willpower in the world and a diet still won’t “work.” Learn more here.
10. Your “lifestyle change” never seems to stick. This is usually because your lifestyle change actually means that you’re trying to live a lifestyle of permanent dieting.
11. You don’t honor your cravings. Your cravings are something that you need to beat, ignore, or conquer. They’re a part of life — and it’s absolutely fine to honor them (and enjoy them — no guilt!). Fun fact: the more you try to restrict, the more cravings you get.
12. You need a challenge or plan to “stay on track.” The whole idea of “staying on track” is a tenant of diet culture. A healthy life truly ebbs, flows, and evolves. If you can’t seem to make healthy decisions unless you’ve geared yourself with a special plan or challenge, then it’s likely that challenge or plan is actually a diet with a fancy new name on it. (Remember: dieting goes by MANY names.)
13. You keep searching for answers that are outside of yourself. You don’t need a guru or someone to save you with the perfect healthy eating and workout plan, trick, or hack — and you don’t need fixing. Your only job is to learn to love yourself and your body, as you are right now.
In what sneaky ways has dieting and the mindset around it stuck around for you, even if the language has changed? Remember: we have so many resources to help you break free, from our email course to our Tell It Like It Is video series to our online classes and programs! –Jenn