Signs your healthy eating plan is actually a Diet in Disguise.

Because diet providers are getting smart to the ‘Anti Diet’ wave that has become more popular, there is now a risk that you are being sold a diet in disguise.  A diet may be sold to you as a ‘Healthy Eating plan’ or ‘a lifestyle’ and they will claim it’s not a diet, but the trained professional can see that it is actually just another diet. 

Diets may be the right choice for some, but if you are over diets because they have not been helpful to you or you have been damaged by dieting  it can be really frustrating or even dangerous to undertake another diet and it  just leads people back to the same frustrations and issues they have had in the past,  but this time it makes them feel completely stuck- ‘I can’t diet and I can’t do healthy living either-  I am total failure’, they conclude there is nowhere left to go and give up all because they were mis sold something.

Everyone is a ‘wellness expert’ these days and so how do you know what to trust and what to avoid if you need to improve your relationship with food, move away from guilt and shame when you eat, stop having food rules such as ‘good and bad’ foods, reduce emotional eating or improve body image concerns- because if any of these resonate with you, then a diet is not going to be your next best step.

Well, before you get inadvertently caught up in a diet in disguise, here are a few clues to look for to differentiate a diet from a true change to your lifestyle:

It is a diet if:

  • It has a weight focus e.g. weight loss goals/fat loss goal or messaging that wellness is somehow contingent on weight loss
  • It asks you to count calories, track macros etc. ‘for accountability’ or you have to ‘save’ calories if you want to eat out or eat ‘treat’ foods
  • You have to weigh, measure, count foods (for points)
  • They may talk about “Cheat days” or “Free days”
  • They use terms such as good and bad foods or imply some foods to be good or bad using other terms that support this message
  • There are rules that you have to follow- only eat these foods on certain days, don’t eat after this time, certain foods are not allowed
  • They say you have permission to eat all foods and the foods that you love, but then tell you when and how much to eat certain foods or you can only eat them within certain limits
  • They talk about exercise as a way to ‘earn foods’ or ‘this food = this many minutes exercise’ (this is a terribly misleading thing to do!).
  • You have to replace real foods with shakes or meal replacements or bars
  • You find yourself thinking about food all the time and/or hungry whilst you follow the approach
  • It makes you feel you can’t be trusted around certain foods and you need this approach to manage that
  • You crave certain foods, but you dare not eat them or they are not allowed or they are somehow made to seem like a ‘bad food’
  • You have to plan all foods/follow their meal plan
  • You find you are ‘sneaking’ food in private to avoid the shame of eating a food or showing you have failed, but you couldn’t resist as you felt restricted.
  • You overthink every food choice you eat, you can’t choose what you want on a menu, a lot of your energy and brain space goes into thinking or worrying about food
  • You feel guilt after certain food choices
  • You are avoiding certain situations because you are worried about the food that will be available not meeting your new ‘lifestyle approach’
  • You are still weighing yourself to measure success of this approach. 
  • Increased weight makes you feel failure
  • You turn to food to manage feelings of guilt and failure
  • The ‘Sod it’ effect happens at a weekend or when you have eaten a certain food

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good idea of things that can be packaged up into ‘a lifestyle’, but is actually a diet and some of the behaviours and feelings that you may be feeling whilst following this.

A lifestyle or health based approach will;

  • Have no rules or restrictions
  • Be individual to you- not a plan you buy off the internet
  • Be about slow, gradual small changes that you can maintain over time
  • Focus on you learning how to listen to your body, your emotions, your internal signals and interpret these so you can make choices that are meeting your needs in that moment, so you can take charge of food choices rather than feel controlled by food
  • Use values based goals and internal motivation to drive you towards change that is meaningful and relevant to you as an individual
  • Won’t only consider nutrition to be the ‘silver bullet’, but will recognise that health is a broad concept and we need to look after all areas of this e.g. mental health, social health and physical health
  • Allow you to trust in yourself around food again and use an intuitive approach to food choices
  • Give you the tools to know how to manage emotional barriers to the way that you eat and body image issues so you can stop the diet cycle
  • Reduce risk of disordered eating and impaired relationship with food and your body
  • Allow you to learn how to enjoy food again and not just see food as calories or something to fear
  • Be a compassionate approach
  • Measure success in many ways- not by looking a number on the scales
  • Allow you to start living your life in a happier, healthier more meaningful way by recognising you more than a number on the scales

The list could go on, but hopefully you can start to see the difference between a diet in disguise and a true health-based lifestyle approach.

Remember weight loss sells and therefore so many ‘wellness professionals’ use this in their marketing strategy, but these days they are getting cleverer about how they go about this, so sometimes it’s less obvious to the consumer. 

If you want to know more about my health based approach to nutrition and move away from diets, rules and restriction and get Nutrition advice you can trust then send me a message to arrange a free no obligation chat.