Why You Have Diet Dependence and How to Break Free!

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Do you ever feel like you just can't trust yourself? That you don't really know what your body needs or how much? Or, that you DO know what to do, you just can't seem to do it without the accountability of a diet? 

What does it mean to trust yourself? Let's break this down! Trusting yourself means.....

-Making positive/beneficial choices for yourself

This is hard to do because we often live according to the "shoulds". You SHOULD put others needs before yourself. You SHOULD be healthy and fit. You SHOULD..... Depending on shoulds and have to's to direct you rather than choosing what you really want and need. It's almost an unawareness of what you truly want for YOU. 

-Ability to listen to your body's needs

Your body will tell you what it needs if you can slow down enough to hear it. It's easy to get distracted by busyness, family, work, social media etc. You lose the ability to hear your body's hunger/fullness signals. You can't identify what kind of movement would be most beneficial. You struggle to recognize your inner needs and get them met, so you use food or distraction to numb them. This is also where diet dependence and following someone else's fitness program comes in. 

-Having a realistic definition of health and practical steps to get there

Nothing is worse that having unrealistic expectations for yourself, especially regarding health. Everyone wants to be "healthy" but many do not know what that looks like on an individual level, thus the dependence on diets or others to tell you what it SHOULD look like for you. 

Why do we NOT naturally trust ourselves? 

-Female role models

Our role models, especially in younger years of development, set the tone for body image. A lot of women struggle to project healthy body image so it makes a lot of sense that if negative body image and dieting was done around you, that you would learn not to trust yourself but to trust others to tell you what you should be doing. 

-Diet Culture

We live in a diet culture, especially in America. Diets are almost a status symbol and conversation starter. Magazines, social media, influencers, tv and movies promote unrealistic body standards, increasing demands for beauty (and use of beauty products) and placing too high a priority on fitness. Culture has created a HUGE market for diet/fitness! It's one of the biggest businesses out there! 

-Being too darn busy

This goes along with culture. We thrive on being busy. So busy that we have to eat on the run instead of sitting down and eating undistractedly. Too busy to grocery shop, cook or even enjoy the art of cooking. Too busy to notice the stress of the day and when it creeps in, using food to cope. 

-Misuse of food roles

Food takes on different roles in any given situation. Sometimes it's celebratory. Other times its just for fuel. Sometimes it is boredom or habit. Often it is to cope with or distract from emotions, so it becomes a crutch. Recognizing food roles takes awareness and practice which means you have to slow down enough to not judge your food, but to understand what needs you are trying to get met through it. 

There are many reasons not to trust yourself when it comes to making choices that move you closer to where you want to be. It makes sense that it would be difficult to use intuition and intention when it is easier to listen to someone else, especially if they seem like they have it all figured out. This mindset will keep you stuck in diet dependence for as long as you continue to mistrust yourself. 

So, how do you move from mistrust to trust? I'm so glad you asked!! Here are 5 steps to get you moving in the right direction:

1) Awareness. This is the whole ball game! Awareness of physical feelings, emotions (positive and negative), thoughts and even posture comes into play. By raising your level of awareness, you enable yourself to interpret and understand what needs you have and how to get them met appropriately. We do a LOT of awareness exercises in my Captivatingly Confident Small Group Experience . They are transformational!! 

2) Talking it through. Every person on the planet needs to process their feelings-everyone. Having someone who is trained to help you do that is a huge building block in trusting yourself. This is especially true if you have experienced abuse, loss, trauma, abandonment or just had it rough. If you are a sufferer of any of these, I highly recommend looking for a therapist trained in EMDR, EFT or Neurofeedback. These techniques can help reduce the emotional pain of past events. (Side note- sometimes it may take talking to more than one therapist to find a good match. Try calling and asking for a 15 minute call to do an interview) 

3) Culture Cleanse. Give yourself a break from alllll the stimulus that causes self-doubt or criticism. This may look like taking a social media break. Closing your Pinterest account for a while. Not reading magazines (which ALL have advertisements for things to make you MORE than what you are). Take stock of what thoughts you have when you look in the mirror and use those as a guide for what you need to work on next. 

4) Define HEALTHY for YOURSELF. Nothing will cause you to feel like a failure more than chronic dieting. The yo-yo effect causes your body to not trust you as well as your own mind to do the same. Diets do NOT equal healthy. What does healthy mean to you? What are you wanting from yourself emotionally, spiritually, physically? Having a clearer and more personal idea of True Health will enable you to make specific action steps toward moving in that direction rather than trying to live up to a diet's standards. 

5) Understand Food Roles. This goes back to the awareness piece. Knowing what role food is taking in any given moment will help you know how to handle it. It may look like putting a stop sign on your fridge or pantry so you can pause and take an emotional inventory and understand what is going on inside you. Are you Head Hungry or Tummy Hungry? Use the Tuna Test: Ask yourself if you're hungry enough to eat a plain can of tuna. If the answer is no, chances are you are more Head Hungry which is often driven by emotions (positive and negative) and not by real hunger. 

Using these steps is a great way to start breaking your dependence on diets and start trusting yourself. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. This all leads to the ability to love being YOU inside and out! 

*If you feel like this is YOU and you want help deciding your next steps, schedule a FREE 15 minute Clarity Call with me! We can discuss your struggles and figure out what your next best step could be.