Dieting can be a frustrating and often unsustainable approach to weight loss and overall health. While it may produce short-term results, it can also lead to a cycle of yo-yo dieting and negative self-talk. But what if there was a way to embrace a healthy lifestyle without constantly feeling restricted or deprived? In this blog post, we’ll explore how to stop dieting and learn God’s way to find a more balanced approach to health and wellness.

I’m joined by author Alexandra MacKillop to discuss the lie that dieting will lead to joy. Alexandra and I talk about how to stop dieting. So often, to lose weight, we set food rules and restrictions that lead us to binge eating and self-condemnation. It’s a setup for failure. In her book Fulfilled: Let Go of Shame, Embrace Your Body, and Eat the Food You Love, Alexandra goes into depth about how today’s culture has distorted the way we women view our bodies, and in this episode, she’s helping us sort through the confusion of different diets, body checking, and intuitive eating.

How to Stop Dieting: How Restrictive Eating Habits Harm Your Body

Everyone has a diet, but dieting is a specific and intentional manipulation of what a person is eating that is based on what the diet is telling them instead of what their bodies are telling them. The goal is to lose weight typically.

We can often be afraid of moving from dieting to intuitive eating because we’re scared of what certain foods will do to our bodies. We put our identity in our bodies and can view who we are as what we look like. Food can change how we perceive ourselves and possibly how others see us, as well as our confidence.

Our bodies should never define our relationships with other people or with God.

There’s a diet out there to demonize every food, so it’s time to eliminate the “bad food” narrative. Zoom out and think about a time in your life where you were eating something “bad”, and everything was fine.

Our relationship with food gets complicated when we combine it with appearance, which is why we need to stop dieting.

stop dieting

“You are what you eat” has become a way of comparison. We assume if we eat the same diet as someone else, our bodies will also look like theirs. That’s unattainable and sets you up for failure and shame. The things we eat don’t directly affect the size and shape of our bodies. That’s genetics.

“We can’t control what our bodies look like, but when we base our identity in Christ we don’t have to live up to a standard; the standard has been set, making us free from trying to earn approval.”

If you want to start intuitive eating and stop dieting, make the decision that it’s going to be worth it to you and sacrifice your image of the perfect body shape and size. Take an honest look at the condition of your situation and plan to systematically oppose all the food that are lies in your head.

We experience a restriction/binge cycle because our bodies are wired to crave what they need to survive. It becomes a mental struggle because restricting something makes you desire it. When you break free from resisting, you spiral and lose control which leads to binging.

How to stop dieting and discover joy, stop making food our idol.

You can start to break food rules by picking 1 or 2 foods you crave and eating them regularly until you don’t want them anymore. It’s not the food that has the power. It’s the fear of what the food will do to our appearance.

The good news is that sugar addiction is not a thing. It’s bad science.

Body checking is a group of behaviors that we engage in when we’re insecure that comes from a place of fear and shame. Doing it regularly reinforces that the minutia of how we look is super important. It’s unhelpful. Make a plan to limit your body-checking tendencies.

Your body is good; it’s not your enemy. It’s a gift.

“How can you live today so that by the end of your life you can look back and say that was a fulfilling life?”

Are you ready to stop turning to food and ready to turn to God instead? Learn more inside my Biblical Framework to Overcome Emotional Eating course.

If you find yourself going from diet to diet, looking for the “perfect” one for you, maybe it’s not another diet that you need. In this Truth Talk, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions Before Going On Another Diet, it’s about starting slow. With every new diet we try, we tend to bring in some of the habits and thought processes from previous diets. When we “diet stack,” we over-restrict our food options, sometimes even to the point that there’s not much left we can eat without feeling guilty.

These questions are meant to challenge you in your thinking so you can begin to stop this diet rollercoaster and begin to focus on the real truth about your body, food, and where your worth is being placed.

The Importance of Mindful Eating: Paying Attention to Your Body’s Hunger and Fullness Cues

Ask yourself these six questions before going on another diet. (This can help you stop dieting too!)

  1. Will this diet plan restrict my enjoyment at parties, events, gatherings, family dinners, etc.?
    Will you feel the need to save your calories for the party? Do you find yourself avoiding food altogether because you don’t trust yourself? Will you feel like you have failed if you eat something off the plan?

2. Does this diet feel free to you? Is it something you will constantly be thinking about? In other words, can you do this and stay free emotionally?

3. Can you keep this up long-term? Can you keep it up with your current lifestyle?

4. Will you feel deprived?

5. Do you already find yourself labeling food “good,” “bad,” or “forbidden”? As in, “I’ll never eat that again”?

6. Do you feel defeated before even starting? Do you find yourself constantly saying what you should be eating?

Are you ready to stop turning to food and ready to turn to God instead? Learn more inside my Biblical Framework to Overcome Emotional Eating course.

Do you ever wonder why your diet could be hurting you more than helping you? Dieting is the worst way to lose weight. The fitness industry teaches us that by losing weight we’ll become happy with our bodies and therefore happy with ourselves. But the truth is that we can’t fix an internal problem with an external solution. Our hope is in our Savior and not a diet. In this Truth Talk, I’m breaking down the characteristics of a diet, how they can affect our thought process, and what we can do to reframe our perspective about eating.

How to Stop Dieting: Finding Freedom from Diet Culture

  1. Focus on nourishing your body. Instead of focusing on restricting calories or certain food groups, shift your mindset to focus on nourishing your body with whole, nutritious foods. God created our bodies to function optimally with a variety of nutrients, so choose foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Aim to include a balance of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates in your meals.
  2. Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals, as well as your emotional state, when making food choices. Instead of mindlessly consuming food or restricting yourself to a set meal plan, take the time to listen to your body and honor its needs. This can help you make more intuitive food choices and avoid overeating or undereating.
  3. Find joy in movement. Exercise shouldn’t feel like a punishment or a chore. Instead, find physical activities that bring you joy and help you feel energized. Whether it’s going for a walk, trying a new fitness class, or dancing around your living room, movement should be a celebration of what your body is capable of, not a punishment for what you’ve eaten.
  4. Prioritize self-care. Self-care is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. This can look different for everyone, but it should involve activities that help you feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and nourished. Whether it’s taking a bath, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones, prioritize activities that make you feel good and put the focus back on God
  5. Embrace grace and forgiveness. Finally, remember that God’s grace and forgiveness extend to all areas of our lives, including our relationship with food and our bodies. Instead of beating yourself up for slip-ups or perceived failures, practice self-compassion and forgiveness. Focus on progress, not perfection, and give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them.

Warning Signs You’re Caught in Diet Culture: How to Break Free and Questions to Consider

Responses to unhealthy food thought processes:

  • Food binges happen when you’re not dieting.
  • Feeling guilty about eating certain foods.
  • Having little trust with food or around food.
  • Carrying shame about not being about to stick to something.
  • Eating all the food you couldn’t eat while on the diet.
  • Feeling like you have failed or don’t deserve to eat. 

Signs of unhealthy dieting:

  • You become afraid of food. 
  • You start to deny your body what it needs because it doesn’t fit within the restrictions.
  • Food begins to take on a narrative of being immoral or moral/good or bad
  • Food or working out changes your mood for the worse on a consistent basis.
  • Undereating to lose weight
  • Everything you do is to burn calories and to stay around 1200 calories for the day.
  • Diets can easily disempower us. Diets disempower us because diets take us out of the equation. We no longer listen to the Holy Spirit or what our bodies are communicating. Instead, we listen to what other people are saying we should do for our bodies. One way to break the cycle is to break down what we have been told. We can’t change what we are not willing to confront. 

Ask yourself these questions to help reframe your thoughts about dieting and how to stop dieting:

  • Why have I told myself I can’t eat this food?
  • What will really happen to me if I eat this food?
  • Am I afraid to eat this food?
  • Do I eat because of the comments people have made to me?
  • Am I hungry when I eat?
  • Do I want the food I am about to eat?
  • Will I be deprived if I don’t eat the food in front of me?
  • Do I experience shame or guilt when I eat this food? Why?
  • Am I giving my power to food or living through the power of God? 

Are you ready to stop turning to food and ready to turn to God instead? Learn more inside my Biblical Framework to Overcome Emotional Eating course.

I love the topic today because this is something that I’m learning so much about currently. I think where we’re at with culture, we have so much noise. If you’ve been in the health realm, whether that’s alternative health or in the working out bodybuilding type of situation, you’re always very in tune with what should be eating, what we label good and bad, all of that. But that kind of puts us in a not great place. Because we do label things as good and bad, and we do go down this rabbit hole of, “Well, this is good. I’m a good person. I’ve done well today.” 

Mindset Shift: How to Change Your Relationship with Food and Achieve Sustainable Weight Loss

We find ourselves eliminating food after food which is why we never stop dieting. And oftentimes, it leaves us in a place of severe undernourishment and undereating. Whenever we undernourish our body, low-calorie diets it doesn’t give it the fuel it needs to run efficiently over time. It might not show it right away, but over time your body is going to be talking to you in various ways, shapes, or forms. 

Oftentimes, this shows up as low energy. It shows up as possible thyroid issues. Even impaired digestion or improper sleep. So there are a lot of different ways that it shows up, but in general, our body is wired to survive. And so, if you’re undereating or living off low-calorie diets that it needs to feel nourished, some things are going to happen.

I would say a general rule of thumb would be around 12 to 14 calories per pound of body weight, some people go as low as ten, but the 12 to 14 range would be a good place to at least start. Then begin to assess how many calories you need. 

You have to realize that a stressed-out body needs more nourishment, and I think so many women are sacrificing their health to be lean or fit, and it’s catching up with us. That’s just something that you’ll probably have to pray about and think about. I think you have to weigh that and ask yourself and see what your motivation is for showing up. Undereating and low-calorie diets can be an easy trap to fall into if we are not aware.

I get that there are some things that we can’t control, but there’s something physiologically going on if you’re constantly on edge all the time and cannot relax. (Low-calorie diets can have this effect as well as undereating.) Most of the time, it’s that we’re addicted to this cortisol that we have in our body all the time. We’re addicted to these stress hormones that create a huge cascade of issues in our body, probably starting with the thyroid, then it moves to the adrenals. 

Then it impairs digestion and your liver function. It comes from this overabundance of stress hormones that are constantly going through our veins. Stress definitely can be mental or physical as far as undereating or over-exercising. It can be from chemicals in our environment that can cause stress on our bodies. But really, it’s the combination of all of those that are putting our body in a more stressful state. 

That is just a recipe for disaster on a lot of different levels. As far as how we’re treating our bodies, it’s just crying out for help. And yet, we’re making it do what we want it to do or think it needs to do. But it’ll talk to you if you’ll listen. This is why it’s important to stop dieting.

Are you ready to stop turning to food and ready to turn to God instead? Learn more inside my Biblical Framework to Overcome Emotional Eating course.

Overcoming diet culture and learning to stop dieting can be hard when you are not aware of the narratives you have been believing about food, your body, working out, and more. Diet culture labels foods, causes you to restrict how much you are eating and makes meal plans all about weight loss. I’m here to share that the food you eat doesn’t need labels. You can lose weight without dieting, and you can find joy in working out and the way you eat.

Creating a Healthy Body Image with God and Changing the Way You See Dieting

I think that a lot of us are motivated by weight. We’re trying to be a healthy weight; we are very entranced by worldly solutions. I call it shiny diet syndrome – there’s always a new diet on the horizon. People put their hope in these labels of diets or maybe a product. (A lot of diets are product-driven, as well.) We put our hope in that. If we can’t meet what that diet is calling us to do or we’re not getting results, then we feel like a failure. We internalize that. Therefore, it creates a really horrible cycle of yo-yo dieting, of just a little bit of hopelessness and a lot of throwing in the towel. 

People can’t see it when they’re in it when it’s people diet hopping from one thing to the other and never stop dieting. And so, what I like to help bring people back to is looking at the way that we eat; the way that we care for our bodies through a biblical lens. We look at the Bible as our guide for everything. A lot of us don’t think about it as part of our health guide. And I really believe that God has shown us everything that we need to do right there in the Bible. A lot of it right there in Genesis is really an insight. 

Because when we think of our bodies, we think of God as the creator of our bodies; we are His creation, and who knows better than the Creator of our bodies what our bodies need to be healthy? That’s what I like to bring back people to is using the Bible and biblical lens as our compass when we are looking to take care of ourselves.

I think, first of all, we need to shift our perspective about why we are keeping our body healthy. What is our goal here? If we can shift our perspective and meditate on the fact that our bodies are vessels of the Holy Spirit. That we are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. To know that when we feel well, we serve well. We show up so much more vibrantly to everything God has for us and everything that He needs us to do. And when you look at it that way, I think that’s different than being motivated by the size of jeans or the reunion coming up or whatever it is. Overcoming diet culture is going to take shifting our perspective.

Shifting that perspective, not basing what you’re gonna do on a label like “I’m going to be keto, I’m going to be vegan.” You can call yourself vegan, or you can say you’re keto all day long, but that might not be jiving with what your body needs. We know that He gave us plant foods (Genesis 1:29), we know He gave us animal foods (Genesis 9:3). I believe that is a good foundation for everybody. That’s real food. The way God made it, that is the food God put in nature and that’s always going to be the best thing for our bodies. 

And so I think if we can go into it with that, and just start there, and then and then tweak from there, so that’s one piece of it. But then the other piece is getting out of this idea that it is a diet. Every day you have to find something that really does work for you for your body. For sustainability, don’t go into it saying, “I am never gonna have a piece of pie again.” If you can’t sustain something long-term, you’re gonna hit that wall. Leading you to feel like a failure.

Are you ready to stop turning to food and ready to turn to God instead? Learn more inside my Biblical Framework to Overcome Emotional Eating course.

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