How to Ditch Dieting For Sustainable Behavior Changes
Our society is undeniably steeped in diet culture — and despite the leaps and bounds that we’ve recently taken to celebrate all body sizes and ditch the diets, many of us are still entrenched in the desire to lose weight. While weight loss is certainly not always a bad thing, many people have trouble getting out of the yo-yo dieting that comes with losing weight and regaining once the diet ends. Instead, let’s hop off the diet roller coaster and try these healthy habits for sustainable behavior changes.
Skip the Scale
Dieting often goes hand-in-hand with the scale — and, with it, obsessively jumping on the scale to gauge progress. One of the first ways to ditch diet culture is by ditching the scale, too. Our body weight naturally fluctuates both throughout the day — sometimes by even up to 10 pounds! Our weights can also change in response to menstrual cycles, hydration status, and exercise. Therefore, the scale isn’t always a reliable indicator of health.
Celebrate Non-Scale Wins
After you break up the scale, you can start measuring health through other metrics. Maybe your clothes are starting to fit better, or you can make it up several flights of stairs without running out of breath, or you can play with your kids for hours on end. These non-scale successes will be different for everybody, so find out what makes you feel good.
Get Rid of "Good" and "Bad"
Another habit tightly entwined with dieting is placing foods as either “good” or “bad” — with nothing in-between. Instead, try thinking of foods as neutral; some may be more nutritious, and some may be less nutritious. We can also start to think of adding “health-promoting” behaviors to your day, like walking after work or adding vegetables to your lunch.
Break Up With Restriction
One of the core tenets of most diets is restriction. Whether it’s restricting calories or cutting out entire food groups (usually carbs), eating this way can often increase your likelihood of craving these foods, binging on them, and creating an unhealthy relationship with food. Rather, embracing a thought pattern that all foods can fit and nothing is off-limits can help you eat more intuitively and release your grip on dieting, ultimately building more healthy and sustainable habits in the process.