Could It Be a Diet In Disguise?
January 10th, 2018 by Sara Upson
Several weeks ago a colleague of a colleague asked me to look at a “diet plan” and see if it was something that I’d recommend. It’s not uncommon that someone asks my opinion on different “ways of eating” to see if it aligns with a behaviors based, non-diet, intuitive eating approach. In this case, the person asking was curious about a way of eating that was being promoted by a supposedly weight neutral colleague.
Always excited to learn about another way of talking about health promotion through food peace I excitedly, and naively, hopped over to google to learn more about this way of eating. In big bold letters it said “The Anti-Diet: diets don’t work.” So far so good, I thought. Then it started talking about resetting your metabolism and breaking stubborn weight loss resistance. Uh-oh. That doesn’t seem weight neutral. I continued scrolling… There was more co-opting of the language used with intuitive eating and a weight neutral approach- diets don’t work, people are confused, you don’t need another diet…then the pitch- all you need is our 12 week anti-inflammatory, personalized, X week diet approach. (That’s when I started face-palming and rolling my eyes. My kids were asleep or I might’ve started yelling at the computer screen.) I kept scrolling. Then there were weight loss transformation pictures. Then I couldn’t look anymore. UGH- no wonder why people are so confused. Diet culture is hard enough but when a program co-opts the language of a non-diet approach- says that their program isn’t a diet and THEN promotes diets it’s $&@*! Confusing! I mean, even a supposedly weight neutral practitioner fell for it!
Why am I telling you all this? Because diet culture has become sneakier and more manipulative. They tell you that their way of eating isn’t a diet when it is! Diet culture and the diet industry has learned that you know diets don’t work– so what do they do- steal the language from the intuitive eating, health at every size, weight neutral approach. It literally becomes a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Diet culture now focuses on marketing towards healthy eating, wellness, clean eating even going as far to say that it’s not a diet- it’s a way of living or that it’s not a diet- period. This is where it gets tricky because if it’s restrictive, it’s still a diet. If it focuses on weight loss, it’s still a diet. If it says that you have to count anything (even if 200+ are free…), it’s still a diet. These patterns still reinforce diet culture. They make you more confused about what is and isn’t a diet. They disconnect you from your body and make you feel even worse- because it’s not supposed to be a diet. They reinforce and normalize disordered eating. If you haven’t noticed, they also make me mad!
If you’ve started a way of eating this year that “isn’t a diet” maybe check yourself… Could your eating be a diet in disguise? Could your way of eating be a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Could your eating goal appear positive, but end up doing more harm than good? Here are 10 questions to help you determine if your “non-diet” plan is still a diet.
- Is it focused on weight loss, body shape or size?
- Is it restrictive/are there any foods or beverages that you’re not allowed to eat/drink?
- Does it encourage ignoring hunger?
- Do you have to eat at certain times?
- Does it label foods? (good/bad, healthy/unhealthy, clean, pure, etc)
- Does it have a start and an end date, or a certain length of time, e.g. 30days?
- Does it encourage cheat days?
- Can you “blow it”/ Does it make you feel guilty or ashamed?
- Are there before and after pictures involved?
- Does it make you think about food more?
The more you answered YES to- the more likely your diet is harming you. The more likely your “way of eating” is a diet.
Don’t beat yourself up- even health practitioners have been duped into believing that a diet wasn’t a diet. Diet culture is insidious and tricky and mean. It doesn’t care about you- it cares about its bottom line. That’s why diet programs keep reinventing their program- they don’t work, but they need you to come back and buy in again, and again, and again.
The only way to really promote health and well-being is to get out of diet culture. To reject it completely. To reconnect with your body, your needs, and focus on taking good care of you- not a number on the scale or a clothing size. When you’ve literally been brainwashed to believe that your diet isn’t a diet- it’s a hard thing to change! So be kind to yourself. This change takes time. Here are some resources to get started:
2. Intuitive Eating– If you haven’t read the book (link below) do so! Also check out my intuitive eating groups that as I write this are enrolling. Interested in virtual group, let me know! Complete the form and in the anything else you want me to know- add virtual group or a different time…
3. Read, read, read about rejecting diet culture & reconnecting with your body. These are my favorites to get started:
*The images of the books are amazon affiliated links. Should you click on the link and purchase I receive a tiny commission off of your purchase, which I greatly appreciate as it helps me offer free events- like Book Club! If you’re interested in reading Body Kindness- join our free virtual book club reading which meets on January 25, 2018 at 12:00pm. Sign up here. Missed this one? Sign up here to be part of future book clubs!