20 Ways To Set Yourself Free From Dieting

20 Ways to Set Yourself Free from Dieting

10 December 2019 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

Filed Under: Anti-Diet

 “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
— Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai —

Now that the holidays are over you may be feeling bad about how much or what you ate. You may be thinking “I fell off the wagon” or “I need to get back on track”. You might be considering going on a diet or starting a 30-day elimination challenge. Hopefully you are not considering this, but just in case you are… I am going to recommend that you steer clear. More often than not, they simply end in despair anyway. Instead of restricting and going on another diet, there could be other ways to look at transitioning from holiday mode to “back to work” or “normal life” mode.

Here are 20 things you could consider that don’t focus on dieting and weight loss, yet, have healthy outcomes.

1. Do not beat yourself up for holiday eating

For starters, regardless of what you ate, how much you ate or drank – it’s never a good idea to beat yourself up. Holidays are challenging. We are out of our normal routine. The focus is very much on food. There are more parties and gatherings than usual. Think about it this way: food is fuel but it is also connection – it’s all part of making memories and connecting with friends and loved ones.

2. Do not go on another diet

No. No. No. They don’t work. They are dangerous for our mind, body and soul. It may be tempting…diets are! They come full of promise, only they never deliver in the long term. You can read more about that here and here.

3. Reconnect with your body

Sometimes during the holidays, we are so busy that we forget to reconnect with our bodies. Take some time to connect with your body. Perhaps doing a body scan meditation or some gentle stretches to get a sense of how your body feels. Let go of any judgement as you do this. You could also connect to your cellular hunger and see what your body’s cells need.

4. Shift your focus from weight loss to well-being

So often we confuse weight loss with health. Can you shift the focus from weight loss to general well-being? That means emotional, physical and mental well-being.

5. Slow Down

More often than not, we return from a holiday only to need another holiday to recover! Take some time to slow down. Try do what needs to be done at a slower pace –  simple things like eating, driving, getting ready.

6. Replace willpower with inner wisdom

Diet culture is everywhere at this time of the year. Lots of talk about diets, restriction and willpower. Our willpower is limited but our bodies have their own innate wisdom. If you truly listen to your body it will tell you what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. We need to learn to trust the wisdom of our bodies.

7. Awareness of hunger and fullness

As you reconnect with your body and your body’s wisdom, tune in to your hunger and the range of hunger you experience. Try as best you can to eat when gently hungry and to stop when you have had enough or you experience satisfaction. This is not an exact science, so experiment. You may need more for breakfast and less for lunch or you may prefer a heartier dinner and a lighter lunch. See what works for you!

8. Joyful movement

So often we think of exercise as a way to lose weight. Instead of linking exercise to a number on the scale, can you shift your view to seeing exercise as a gift you give to your body and mind? Move your body in a way that is enjoyable – it doesn’t have to be gruelling work-outs or focused on how many calories you have burned. Find a way to move that is easy, joyful and sustainable for the simple joy of moving your body!

9. Add foods rather than eliminate foods

Elimination of foods creates cravings and deprivation. When we feel deprived it often leads to binge eating. Instead of cutting out food groups – think about what you can ADD to your meals – making them more interesting, pleasurable and nourishing. Take into consideration the needs of your body and your taste preferences. Experiment with new flavours and recipes. Make it a culinary adventure!

10.Bring in pleasure versus denial and deprivation

The more you cut out pleasurable foods, the more you will want them. Allow for pleasure.

Whatever you eat, bring your awareness and attention to the food – if you are eating with distraction you will more than likely eat to a point of discomfort. Do not underestimate the importance of allowing pleasurable foods into your diet.

11. Care for your body

Look after your “here and now” body. That means resting, moving and nourishing your body. It means dressing in comfortable clothes. Your body deserves your attention at any size.

12.Replace judgement with curiosity

We think we can change our habits by judging ourselves and being hard on ourselves. How about trying curiosity instead? When we judge ourselves we tend to shut down. By practising curiosity, we can get to the bottom of why we behave in a certain way.

13. What is more important than focusing on weight loss?

Think of things that are more important than how your body looks and what it weighs. Your body is not the most interesting thing about you. Reflect on things that are more important than losing weight or changing your body.

What are you being called to do? What are hopes and dreams you have forgotten about? What else needs your attention at this time in your life? What would you like to create?

14. Meet your needs

When our needs are not met, we are more likely to turn to food or avoidance behaviours. Explore your needs – what are they? Connection, variety, belonging, adventure, rest, play, quiet time, creativity?

15. Embrace the Middle-Way

Dieting, food restriction and over-exercising often leads to backlash behaviour. Most of the time dieting leads to overeating or binge eating. Mindful Eating is the middle-way between restriction, rules and all-or-nothing behaviour.

16. Let go of perfection

There is no such thing as a perfect eater or a perfect diet. Very often this quest for perfection is what keeps us stuck. Perhaps try embracing imperfect action? Taking small steps in the direction you want to go.

17. Practice the attitudes of mindfulness

Cultivate the attitudes of mindfulness. Non-judgement, acceptance, and patience are 3 attitudes that are very useful when trying to change your relationship with food.

18. Be present – bring mindfulness into your daily life

Spend some of your meal in silence. Use this as a time to eat slowly and be with yourself. Take a few mindful breaths before you start eating. When your mind wanders off, bring yourself back to the here and now. Take a few minutes in the morning to be quiet and meditate – sitting or lying down to be with yourself, listening to the sounds of nature, or taking a slow, quiet walk.

19. Practice the Pause and Breathe

Pause and breathe as you transition from one task to another. There is great power in pausing before responding, before eating, taking a moment to connect to you.

20. Freedom and Choice

As human beings we like to have freedom and choice. One of the reasons diets don’t work is that our choice is taken away and we have little freedom. Give yourself the freedom to stop dieting and give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want! It’s the paradox of permission. When we can eat what we want, food loses its charge!

Rather than returning from your holiday and promising to “do better and be good” when it comes to food, think about focusing on how you can feel better and feel good in body, mind and soul.


✨ Are you tired of the struggle with your body and food? Book a free 30-minute mini-session and let’s explore how I can help you feel free.

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“From our first meeting - two faces on Zoom across the world from each other, there was a sense of familiarity and comfort that was a healing balm for a lifetime of food struggles and dieting. Without realizing how much damage I had done to myself by adhering, for decades, to restrictive food plans and rigid diet programs, Xen had a way of redirecting the harsh and negative self-talk and sending me forth each week with compassion, mindfulness and a new way of seeing myself in the here and now. Gone are the maybe somedays, and if-only, and when-I’m-smaller thinking. Now I am committed to the imperfect and rocky path to listening to my body, accepting my perfect imperfections, and rejecting diet mentality. Those negative voices will revisit me from time to time, I know, but Xen has offered valuable tools for meeting each day as a fresh start - another choice, another chance. Her devotion to this work and her belief in her clients is a remarkable gift; I am so fortunate to have found her. It is never too late to let go of the drama and embrace joy, ease and self-acceptance.”

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