Do you struggle to lose weight but always seem to give into temptation after a bad day? Or maybe you can make it a week or two but then you just have to have your favorite junk food treat? Have you tried more than 2 or 3 diets in the last year alone? What about your relationship to food- do you feel guilty when you are eating or do you feel confident you are making healthy choices for your body?

All of these can be signs that you are stuck in a diet mindset. Today I want to help you break free!

  But to break free, you need to really consider where your diet mindset came from. You weren’t born with it, so you had to pick it up along the way.
  • When you were growing up, what was the conversation around food?
  • What did you learn about body image?
  • How was a little extra chub handled – with ridicule and self torture, with admiration, or something else?
  • How did people you knew – parents, older siblings, other older role models – talk about their bodies? What did they consider to be healthy?
  • What was the attitude of healthy food choices, exercise or other healthy habits in your culture or your family when you were young?
  While I can’t actually hear your answers as you are considering them, I do want you to keep them in mind as we work through the following 5 mindset shifts. These shifts are the key differences in someone who has a diet mindset versus someone who is embracing a healthy lifestyle approach to eating, moving, breathing and overall, well… life.  

Diet Mindset #1

  Instead of focusing on what you cannot have, consider what foods you want and look for ways to make it healthier. If your body is still craving doughnuts, check out low glycemic, gluten-free, sugar-free options like this one. When you make it at home, you can control the ingredients for better health outcomes overall. And as a bonus, when you put the effort into making a batch of doughnuts, you aren’t as likely to eat them all in one sitting. Are “healthy” doughnuts still something you should eat daily? Maybe not. But as you begin to approach food like this, over time your tastes will change naturally. This approach takes the “I can’t have” out of the equation and allows you to find a way to do what you want in a new or different less-bad-for-you way. It takes away the always having to tell yourself “no” and replaces it with “Yes, if”… the ingredients are good, it’s eaten in moderation, the meal includes a protein to slow down the glucose response.   Does this sound like a lot of work? It can be, but there are lots of options for quick, easy and healthy foods for you to whip up in 10 minutes or less. My favorite quick dessert right now is this delicious Brownie Batter recipe! Of course it takes a little practice and determination on the front end to figure out a new way to satisfy your cravings with healthier alternatives, but this step is SO WORTH IT!  

Diet Mindset #2

  We are wired to seek pleasure. If we don’t find pleasure on a diet, the diet simply won’t last. Even if we are determined enough to stick it out to our original goal, we won’t stay there long. It’s just simply not enjoyable enough to maintain! Instead if you can find a way to make the journey enjoyable too, suddenly it becomes so much easier get to the goal and maintain long term. When the journey is enjoyable, even slow but steady progress is okay because you are still enjoying the ride. And eventually it adds up, you get to your goal and it didn’t feel like you were killing yourself to do it. This is the turtle approach compared to the hare approach. The hare might go there faster, but it will also get distracted and end up losing the race because there’s just not any focus. It’s not glamorous to be a turtle, but it also means you don’t have to kill yourself to accomplish your goals today.   All you need to work on is taking one step forward. Be sure along your journey to notice all the little changes along your way. Pay attention to how your pants fit, how your rings get a little looser, or how your endurance improves. You might even start to crave vegetables and turn down refined foods because you don’t want them anymore.  When you learn to enjoy the process of a healthy lifestyle, it’s no longer “hard work” or “unsustainable”… you will see results and they will last.

Diet Mindset #3

  When your success or failure hinges on your ability to be perfect at every meal, that’s a great recipe for emotional eating and never getting where you want to go. And the guilt is actually really terrible for your digestion! When you allow yourself instead to start fresh at every meal, choosing without guilt, the process suddenly feels more doable! Even if you mess up at 10am and reach for that extra cookie in the breakroom, it doesn’t mean that you need to beat yourself up or eat junk the rest of the day. You can still make a healthy choice at lunch. And perhaps tomorrow you will choose to pack an extra something for a mid-morning snack so you aren’t as tempted next time. No guilt, just room for improvement. This self-love approach to eating is so powerful for helping you to truly make it a lifestyle!

Diet Mindset #4

  Diets are plan created by someone else that fails to consider your lifestyle circumstances or individual health problems. A more integrative lifestyle approach will include balancing what you want to do with what will help and not harm your body. It’s about finding healthy ways to get your desires met. When you learn to listen to your body, you tune into cues on what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat and so on. But not just for food- for rest, for movement, for overall rhythms of life. It’s no longer a rule book dreamed up by someone not living in your body. Instead, it’s about you connecting with your own self to tune into what helps you feel good and function effectively. And when your healthy lifestyle helps you think, feel and move better, you suddenly are motivated to keep doing it!

Diet Mindset #5

  Life isn’t perfect or even remotely predictable, so why rely on a diet that requires perfect circumstances? The truth is life happens, no matter how much you plan or don’t plan. So you need instead a plan that is adaptable. You need an answer for the everyday things that just happen.
  • for when you have 5 minutes to squeeze in a quick snack
  • for those days when you are just dragging
  • something that will actually satisfy you so you aren’t starving 10 minutes after you eat
  • food that doesn’t taste “diet” so you don’t have to make something separate from the rest of your family

Finding Freedom

For me, Trim Healthy Mama has been a healthy lifestyle approach to eating that helped me break out of my dieting rut. My pattern of eating probably looks vastly different to others who are also on plan. And THM in my life looks much different now than it did when I first started. This variability made it a great fit for me. THM is not of course the only lifestyle approach that is doable, but it’s the only one I can personally confirm from my own experiences. I appreciate that it is highly individualized and adaptable for the surprises of life. I can now stay “on plan” at a Mexican restaurant, at a social gathering, or in my own kitchen. I can find ways to make a healthy choice for myself in almost any circumstances. My success no longer requires that I spend 12 more hours in the kitchen or hire a personal chef! (Whew! What a load off!)   I hope that this post brings you freedom. It’s sometimes hard to imagine when you are living in a diet mindset how those “healthy people” that just seem to have it together keep it up. Were they somehow genetically predisposed to like vegetables or something? Nope! I know because I was stuck in a diet mindset for so long. It’s taken me a few years to break free of it, and I wish someone had laid out for me the basic differences a long time ago! Now I eat delicious foods that also fuel my body well and help me feel amazing. It doesn’t feel hard anymore, it’s just how I live. And now, I hope this will help you to find your own path to a lifestyle approach to health!