Why Diets and Food Rules Are Ruining Your Life

While training one of my local clients last night I, as always, asked how she was doing with food. Her reply was so powerful and moved me so much that I grabbed my phone to make a note of it -- because it's EXACTLY what I'm going for with my coaching. :) She said, "I've noticed that instead of feeling shitty about every decision I've made (like she did for years because of dieting) I've been feeling empowered by a bunch of decisions." The thing is, food is the hardest part for most people to get control over. The irony of that statement is that it's the part most of us try to control the most.

The reality is the harder we try to control and micromanage every morsel that we "should" or "shouldn't" be eating based on some arbitrary rules put forth by whatever diet we're currently following, the less control we actually have. Dieting and food rules take our power away. It teaches us that we cannot be trusted to make our own choices. It takes all the control. When we have no control, we're dis-empowered. We feel like we're so incapable of trusting ourselves to just eat what we want that we lose ourselves to the process. We don't listen to our bodies. We don't trust ourselves. We lose confidence. When we lose confidence, it begins to impact our self worth. When we have no self worth, we don't like ourselves or believe we are worthy of feeling good. When we don't believe we're worthy of feeling good, we make punishing choices. We punish ourselves with food and/or even stricter diet attempts. "I'm such a screw up! I was doing so great, and then I blew it. I always do this! What is wrong with me?! I'm such a failure. I'll never be happy or where I want to be unless I buckle down and work harder. Tomorrow I'll barely eat anything and I'll stop eating carbs completely to make up for screwing up today. Tomorrow I'll really get my shit together -- and since I can't have any of this food after today, I'll eat all this now and get it out of my system." Sound familiar?

That's the sign of a person whose life is run by rules and has given up control and trust in themselves. That's someone who is needlessly punishing themselves. We try a hundred different quick fix diets or trainers and meal plans and feel even more frustrated because we feel like we've "tried everything" but switching to a new diet with different food rules every few weeks or months isn't trying everything. It's just repeating the exact same patterns over and over again with a different set of rules each time. The outcome will always remain the same until you actually do something that is different. I start with my clients by taking away all the "food rules" they've been programmed with over the years. No rules, eat what you want. You CAN be trusted to make your own choices. You CAN eat what you want. You CAN learn to stop punishing and berating yourself. And it starts with letting go of someone else's rules and taking your power back.

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NOTE: While counselors or therapists often use CBT to deal with mental illness or a patient’s mental/emotional conditions and/or processing trauma, MBCT & cognitive eating does not. My roll as a coach, in its most simple form, is to encourage, coach and/or act as a facilitator of a client’s self-reflection, decision making, planning for the future, and creating life changes. As an MBCT & cognitive eating coach, I am obligated to refer clients in need of mental or physical health therapy to an appropriate licensed professional.  

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