Updated: Apr 16, 2022
Not long ago I pulled a massive plant-based nutrition book off my bookshelf in my office to find a couple therapeutic recipes I wanted to share with a client. You know how this goes I'm sure. You start looking for one thing that would likely take 10 minutes and a half hour later you've read a couple chapters.
As fascinating and dense as this book is, while I was sifting through pages, I thought to myself, "Oh my gosh, I would never recommend this book to most of my clients."
Because after doing this work for quite a while, I know about the lenses many people filter diet information through. I predict many people, though well-intended, might find themselves not doing well with their eating after reading many of these chapters....and find themselves making a few diet mistakes.
What would we consider a "diet mistake?"
I'd basically call it an eating strategy or habit that takes the eater further AWAY from their intended goal or somehow backfires.
Here are some common diet mistakes:
Overwhelming yourself: Essentially this happens when a person is wooed by a dietary theory, idea, or program and tries to replace their current eating habits for an entirely new one within a day or two. I'll give you a simple example: A woman who decides she's cooking fresh produce every day for all her meals. She goes to the farmers market and excitedly buys a ton of produce only to have most of it go bad in her refrigerator.
Using shame as motivation: Sadly, this is very common. The logic goes like this, "If I hate my body enough or feel bad enough or
disgusted enough with myself, I will finally get it together and change my habits for good." In my opinion, it is a very good thing that this kind of "motivation" does not last.
Following influencers as experts: Influencers will often post excessive pictures of their bodies in tight clothing or bathing suits (or even naked) and then tell you what they eat in day. Whether conscious or not, it often exploits the vulnerabilities and confusion of those that want to feel attractive and good about their eating.
Following rules, but not noticing impact: Many people like to collect as much diet information as possible, print charts out and try and follow the rules. The focus becomes following rules and compliance. What's missing is actually learning how different ways of eating actually impact you. There is no wisdom gained this way. It's still the mind trying to control the body.
Holding on to past experiences: Many people have a point in their life, that they actually did feel pretty good about their body/eating. Oddly, people can get extremely attached to those "6 weeks" where everything was falling into place. In fact, some people are still attached to a period of time 10 or 20 years ago and attach a great deal of moral value on this particular time in their life. It's understandable that any one of us would like things to go back to the way they were when it felt easier. But it may result in a person being unwilling to embrace the circumstances of their lives right now.
If you're wondering what might be more supportive in creating a beautiful style of eating and a healthy body, here are some hints:
Work on one eating/diet skill at a time (find someone to teach you)
Work on accepting yourself while you work on your goals
Please stop following diet influencers if it impacts you negatively
Start noticing the impact of your eating on your mental health and physical health
Find a style of eating that takes you and your life circumstances into account now, and let go of the fantasy that your life should be the same as it was 10 years ago
Though I can type these out concisely, these are all a process! The women I support who make the most headway are willing to work through these areas with me while we work directly with their diet and body.
Once you name your biggest desires and goals related to your diet and body, you inevitably will be faced with the things that get in the way of them. To me, it would be insane to not work with these things.
With love and respect,
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