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Are you feeling unhappy with your body, spending a lot of time thinking about food and your weight, struggling with a pattern of cutting out food and then eating to excess and feelings of guilt? Then you probably have been on a variety of diets and whilst you may lose weight from time to time it keeps going on and now you may even weigh heavier now than you did at the start. Well instead of going on the next diet why not try a non-diet approach.
The Non Diet approach is just that it’s not a diet no meal plans to follow it’s about eating a wide variety of food that you choose mostly because of physical hunger but also because of the taste of food. This approach is about being well rather than trying to lose weight. It doesn’t mean that some people won’t lose weight but when you start eating for your needs rather than some outside influence whatever weight you end up that is your healthy weight. It’s an approach that has been around for a long time but it’s starting to gain in support recently and there is a lot of research showing the benefits of this approach
The Non-Diet Approach has a number of different names from Health at Every Size, Intuitive Eating, Attuned Eating and Connected Eating to name some of them. They all have some differences between them but what they all have in common is that they are all founded on eating a variety of food based mainly on physical hunger, taste and physical activity. This is different from any of the diet approaches which all rely on rules as to what to eat or not and how much to eat.
There are a number of steps that are important to go through when starting a Non-Diet.
1 Get rid of the Dieting Mentality.
Some of the other steps are included in popular diets to try and incorporate this approach but still sell the rules and plans. However this step is essential because if you don’t reject the diet mentality and still make weight loss your main focus you will never truly be able to let go enough to eat intuitively. So along with the diet plans, magazines and diet food get rid of the scales.
2 Tune in to your body signals related to hunger and fullness
Start by getting to know your hunger and fullness signals. Not as easy as it sounds but the more you practice this the easier it gets. Decide how much you want to eat based on how hungry you are and full you want to be after you eat.
3 Legitimise food and enjoy eating for pleasure
All food is allowed and indeed in the early days when trying to follow this way it’s important to give yourself permission to think about what you really want to eat and go for it. At the start you might find you eat a lot of chocolate or cake but when you and your body get to believe that you are allowed it and you can eat anything you want some of the foods you thought you would really like are less appealing and others become more appealing.
4 Identify when you eat for emotional reasons and find a variety of ways to deal with this
If you are starting to recognise your physical hunger signals you may notice that there a lot of times that you are eating for something other than hunger more for comfort. It is important to start to work out the reasons for this eating and look at what you really need to nurture yourself. Sometimes it is a good idea if something is particularly hard to deal with to develop a list of comforts which may include food but also other things for comfort to help when you are not able to deal with an emotion.
5 Respect your body
Your body is amazing think of what it does every day for you. One way to start respecting your body is to stop body bashing. How often do you make negative comments about your body? Think what you would say to a friend if they started saying bad things about their body.
6 Eat a wide variety of foods
Start to explore different foods and give your body a wide variety to help support your wellness. Ask yourself how your body feels after eating different meals. Remember you don’t have to be perfect to be healthy.
7 Get active with exercise you enjoy and makes you feel good
Stop thinking of exercise as something that burns calories but instead just start to find exercise you enjoy and notice how you feel and if it feels good you might want to repeat it if not find something else.
I think that a Non Diet Approach is one which has mindfulness, self-acceptance, awareness and compassion at its core. I run the Well Now Course which uses a Non Diet Approach but also recognises that we don’t live in a weight neutral society and people who are heavier are often discriminated against and this can increase body shame, and troubled eat.