In reality there are few of us who haven't taken on the language of the dieting world. Many foods have been demonised by the dieting industry to create methods for people to lose weight by restricting foods or worse, eliminating foods all together. Dieting mentality is everywhere and has pervaded our language on a daily basis. But it has an impact on our relationship with food which is damaging. A strong moral attachment has developed with eating 'treat' foods or eating well. Larger people are judged, skinny people are applauded - with no consideration of their underlying state of health.
It is unlikely that you have not been touched by this situation. There are many ways that dieting mentality might be in your life. You might eat lots at the weekend and get back on track on a Monday. You may see a holiday as a chance to have a real blow out and then cut back when you get home. You may manage your weight day to day, by disallowing certain foods on certain days, or cutting out food groups at certain times. You may treat yourself with food because you think you deserve it or restrict because you are guilty that you have eaten too much. You may be unable to eat certain foods because of what you think they might do to you. You may talk to yourself unkindly about how you eat and you may think of your eating as 'on' or 'off' track with little in between.
Your internal dialogue could sound something like this:
• Do I deserve this food?
• Am I allowed this food?
• Will this food make me fat?
• This a ‘bad’ food
• I can’t eat it either because if has too many calories or I don't know the calorific value
• If I eat this food I’ll blow the whole day
• If I don’t eat lunch I’ll keep my weight down
• If I eat this I’m not allowed anything else all day
• This is as treat food
• I mustn’t eat carbs
• I better weigh myself to check I haven't put any weight on
• I’m so useless for eating that, I can’t stick at any diet
• I’m just going to have to be very strict with myself for a few to get back on track!)
• If I eat this I’m going to have do an extra gym session
So if that is the case, why does it matter? You're fine living like that right?
Well, there are a few points here. Thinking about food in this way is all about feelings, in other words your eating decisions are emotionally driven. This means that you are susceptible to emotional eating which is often overeating. You will never manage your weight successfully. If you're restricting your food because you think you shouldn't eat it, you're actually far more likely to overeat. If you're controlling your eating with your head, then you're overriding your natural hormones which manage hunger and fullness. These are Leptin and Ghrelin and they can do a very good job on their own, IF they're allowed to. Manipulating how you eat in response to emotions, a diet plan or what you have heard might help you lose weight, means you're ignoring your body's needs and obsessing much more about food than you need to.
If your internal dialogue around food contains any of the above diet mentality (and that's just a snapshot) I would urge you to stop and think about it. Food has been given a moral value and our eating behaviour a moral judgement, but this is pure fabrication by the dieting industry. The only reason not to eat a food is either because you're not hungry or you're full, OR because you choose not to for health reasons (sugar, saturated fat etc.)
Mindful eating takes us back to our natural instincts to trust what our bodies need and to gradually eliminate the moral compass around food. It creates food freedom, banishes the fear around food and empowers us to let our bodies do the 'thinking'.
Doesn't that sound better?
If you'd like help adjusting your thinking around food, please don't hesitate to get in touch.