prioritizing your mental health starts with ditching diet culture

Prioritizing Your Mental Health

Prioritizing your mental health is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Yes, I’m starting with that bold of a sentence! Your mental health is everything. It’s your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Which, if you really think about it, is the essence of YOU. Keep reading for my 4 best tips to start prioritizing your mental health.

Diets hurt your mental health.

No diet or lifestyle program on the market supports your mental health. In fact, studies show, any time you are following food rules, restricting calories or limiting food types, you worsen your mental health. Which then causes you to question your intuition, highly criticize yourself, increase your anxiety around food, and have lower self-esteem.

One of the key reasons for this is that diets condition you to black-or-white, all-or-nothing thinking. Because diets normalize categorizing food as either “good/healthy” or “bad/unhealthy.” Which triggers you to start judging yourself as “good” or “bad” based on your choices.

Read more about this in another post: How Diets Cause Self-Doubt

So it’s no wonder that improving your mental health becomes a key component to healing your relationship with food. Here are 4 steps you can take today to support your overall wellness by prioritizing your mental health.

How can I improve my mental health. Silence negative voices of diet culture. Have curiosity instead of judgement. Get therapy for prevention; not rescue. Learn & practice better coping tools.

1. Silence the negative voices of diet culture.

The less exposure you have to fitspo, influencers who sell diet programs, “health” coaches—and anyone/anything else that supports intentional weight loss—the better! This can start with curating your social media feeds to unfollow any accounts that support dieting, before/after photos, fat loss products, etc. It also includes removing food diary apps like MyFitnessPal, canceling your subscription to programs like WW, and getting rid of magazines, cookbooks, or diet books. And anything else that makes you feel like your body needs to be changed or fixed.

Diet culture is the main reason we have lost touch with our inner self. We have allowed external cues and “tips and tricks to lose weight” to overrule our biology and physiology. But no one knows what your body needs more than your body! So if you silence the voices of diet culture, you can instead listen to your intuition. This will grow your self-trust and confidence. And ultimately improve your mental health!

2. Have curiosity instead of judgement.

How differently would you speak to yourself if you were simply an observer of your feelings, thoughts and behaviors?

Some of us (me included) have a natural tendency to be highly self-critical due to high expectations of ourselves. But we don’t have to stay this way. When we become aware of our inner dialogue. And the incredible power our mind has on our perception of reality. We can actually rewire our brain’s way of thinking!

One of the first steps you can take is to begin having curiosity instead of judgement. Meaning, instead of immediately jumping to critical thoughts of “I shouldn’t have done that! What is wrong with me?! I’m the worst.” We can instead become curious. Asking ourselves deeper questions like “how was I feeling before that happened?” This opens up a positive dialogue with ourselves, while helping us uncover past hurts that may be impacting our mental health.

3. Get therapy for prevention; not rescue.

While I believe the stigma around therapy has lessened, especially after a year like 2020, a lot of people still misunderstand its purpose. I realized that while I wasn’t judging someone for going to therapy. I was assuming that something bad had happened that led them there. Which is alsos stigmatizing!

Now that I actively see a therapist, I know that you shouldn’t wait until you need one. I’m first to admit that I waited waaaaaaay too long. I allowed the compilation of many stressors—including a toxic work environment—to flatline my mental health before I sought the help I desperately needed.

Because I allowed that to happen, I am now an advocate for seeing therapy as preventative health. Much like you would hire a personal trainer with the hopes of getting physically stronger in the future. You should hire a therapist with the hopes of getting mentally stronger for the future. You don’t (and shouldn’t!) wait until a dark season before learning better coping tools through therapy. Because when you do inevitably hit a rough patch, you’ll not only have better coping tools, but you’ll already have a therapist who knows your unique history.

4. Learn & practice better coping tools.

Beyond what you’ll learn in your therapist’s office, there are so many resources available for you to change your mindset. Some of the best tools in my coping toolbox were learned via courses, books, videos and podcasts by mindset, personal development and high performance coaches like Brad Bizjack, Brendon Burchard, and Jen Sincero. Most of these resources are free or for a nominal fee.

When you make an active effort to change your mindset and learn better coping tools, amazing things happen! You unlock your potential, establish self-trust, and learn to better handle the BS that would otherwise bring you down. Personal development is a greatly underappreciated activity for improving your wellness.

Prioritizing my mental health changed my life. It will change yours too.

When I realized that I was struggling with disordered eating, I didn’t know I was going to need to overhaul my mental health. Because I thought my issues were about food and my appearance. Instead, I learned that disordered eating and chronic dieting IS a mental health issue.

Once I decided to become a full-time entrepreneur and business owner, I began to engage in a lot of personal development. That’s when I realized there is SO much overlap between what I learned in recovery. And mindset strategies practiced by some of the most successful business leaders in the world. Because of this, my programming is influenced and infused with mindset work and psychology from both sides of the spectrum. It’s why Diet-Free Academy is such a unique experience for healing from years of dieting!

If you’re ready to make significant improvements to your mental health by learning to live diet-free, I would love to help you. Click the button below to learn more about the next 12-week group coaching session of Diet-Free Academy.

Meridith Oram
Meridith Oram is an anti-diet nutritionist at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image by ditching diet culture and finding freedom in their God-given intuition. Focusing on behavioral change and Intuitive Eating, Meridith helps her clients 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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