diet mentality vs non-diet mentality breakdown of questions to ask yourself.

Diet Mentality vs Non-Diet Mentality

Imagine you’re standing in your pantry deciding what to have for a snack. Your eyes fall on a bag of cookies. “Oooh those look good!” you think to yourself. Do you eat them? Let’s find out!

You will ultimately make your food selection based on if you have a diet mentality or a non-diet mentality. Let’s look at both types of mentalities to determine which you most align with.

Diet Mentality

Before allowing yourself to eat anything, you quickly think through this line of questioning based on EXTERNAL cues:

  • Do I deserve it?
  • Can I make up for it? (via workout or skipping meals/eating less)
  • What’s my level of guilt if I eat it?
  • Is this a “good” food or a “bad” food?

With the diet mentality, you’re likely to arrive at the conclusion that you don’t deserve the cookies due to all the sugar, calories, fat, etc. You make a “healthier” selection but then can’t stop thinking about the cookies. Or, you’re going to “allow” yourself to have cookies but you’ll end up over-eating them because you’ve restricted it for so long. It ends up in guilt, shame and promises to “get back on track” come Monday.

Non-Diet Mentality

Before allowing yourself to eat anything, you quickly think through this line of questioning based on INTERNAL cues:

  • Am I hungry?
  • Do I want it?
  • How will it feel in my body?
  • Does it taste good?

With the non-diet mentality, you’ve already made peace with cookies so you know that you can have them now, you could’ve had them yesterday, and you can have them tomorrow if you want. It no longer holds the gripping power of guilt, shame, or restriction like it did when you had the diet mentality. You enjoy it when you want it and easily stop when you’re satisfied. This is how you’re able to keep cookies and other fun foods in your pantry without fear of a binge.

Is Your Body at War or Free?

The diet mentality forces your body to be at war with food. All decisions are made based on external rules and advice learned from diet culture messaging. Foods are chosen based on what will help you lose weight or maintain your current weight. It goes against your natural intuition, and prioritizes weight loss over biology.

The non-diet mentality frees you from guilt and shame. This is how food freedom actually exists—and not in the heavily caveated way that it’s misinterpreted in carb cycling with if-it-fits-your-macros. It’s a true neutralizing of food and putting them on an even playing field. Nothing is off-limits and we’re honoring our body’s needs.

The diet mentality can be unlearned!

The diet mentality wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for diet culture. But the good news, is that it can be unlearned! The best way to unlearn the diet mentality and shift to a non-diet mentality is through the 10 principles of intuitive eating.

So, do you think you have the diet mentality or the non-diet mentality? Let me know in comments!

Meridith Oram
Meridith Oram is an ACE-Certified Health Coach at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image. She is also the creator of Gain Wellness, a 5-week behavioral change program to unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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