When Is a Diet Not a Diet?

By Marsha Hudnall
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My colleagues on this blog may have already posted on this — I know we’ve personally talked about it a few times before — but regardless, I feel the need to post now. Everywhere I look it seems I see Weight Watchers’ new ad that says they are not a diet! What a disservice! Any program that has you counting points, calories, grams or even watching your weight in relation to what you eat is a diet!!!

Karin Kratina, a consultant for our program at Green Mountain, may have said it best on her great site Nourishing Connections:

…is the diet industry simply promoting a diet in disguise? To decide, ask yourself, “Does this program promote looking outside of my body’s wisdom and signals to determine how much and what I should eat?” If the answer even hints of “yes,” then it is still a diet.

Staying true to yourself and your body’s wisdom when the diet industry bombards you with messages about what, how, when and where you should eat, how you should exercise, how you should manage emotional eating, etc., etc., etc….well, it’s difficult, to say the least. But notice a theme here? Notice the word ‘should’? Change it to ‘want’ and you’re getting somewhere.

We’ve talked about intrinsic fitness motivation before, and I encourage you to go back and review. Mindful eating is the same; it implies that we are eating according to internally-directed desires. When it comes to whether a diet is a diet or not, that’s the bottom line. If we’re having to depend on external things like points or whatever it is a diet has you count, instead of following the internal cues that guide us, then we’re dieting, no matter what the ads say.

One Response (Add Yours)

  • K. says:

    Really great post; I know people who have tried programs like Weight Watchers and done well on it, but I don’t want something that makes me constantly obsess about caloric intake. In fact, I’ll be honest–it’s taken me years to remove the word “diet” from my vocab. I think a diet implies that you engage in certain eating habits until you look the way you want to (or until you lose those last few pounds so you can fit into whatever piece of clothing you want to wear); then when the desired results are achieved, you go back to your “old” eating habits.

    This isn’t healthy, but I didn’t realize it until I’d already spent an entire childhood feeling self-conscious about my weight. Am I dieting now? Nope, I just make better choices. I start by eating in the morning, and I’ve realized that this helps me make better choices throughout the day. I’m eating more now than I ever have (3 small meals plus 2 snacks a day), and I can still enjoy the things I want (like chocolate, ice cream, and mexican food)–just in moderation.

    I don’t want to form habits only to break them later (no liquid diets for me, thanks)–I want to make good food choices everyday, so that it eventually becomes a habit.

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