5 Myths About Dieting and Food

5 Myths About Dieting and Food

Filed Under: Anti-Diet

15 September 2023 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

Diet culture is everywhere. It’s hard to escape it. We are constantly bombarded by messages about what and when to eat, how to eat, what not eat, how to lose weight. So much so, that we lose connection with ourselves and our own inner wisdom. Let’s bust some common myths about dieting and food.

Myth 1: Dieting is a good way for people to lose weight.

Dieting long-term is a predictor of weight GAIN not weight loss, 95% of people who go on a diet gain back the weight plus more. Dieting causes weight cycling and weight gain not weight loss for the large majority of dieters.

What can you do instead?

Step one is to stop dieting!

There is a lot of fear around not dieting anymore. Many clients tell me that if they stop dieting they won’t stop eating and they will gain a lot of weight. Dieting gives us a false sense of structure and control. Think about all the diets you have ever been on, what happens after each diet ends? Isn’t there a backlash after each diet? Dieting is like a pendulum, we swing towards rules and restriction and then it swings to the opposite end of overeating and bingeing. If there were no rules and restriction there wouldn’t be backlash eating. So instead of focusing on the pursuit of weight loss, put your energy in changing your mindset around food and focus on wellbeing.

Myth 2: We should only eat healthy foods.

It is common knowledge that it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods. However, when we cut out food groups like carbs or tell ourselves that sugar and flour are bad, we feel guilty when we eat these foods. Feeling deprived around food leads to rebellious eating followed by feelings of stress, guilt and shame. Relaxed eating is healthy eating.

What can you do instead?

The two main reasons we eat are to fuel and nourish our bodies and for the pleasure of eating something delicious (that may not be nutritious). Allowing ourselves to eat all types of foods helps to avoid the diet-binge cycle which ultimately does much more harm than eating pleasurable foods!

As Julia Child says:

“In matters of taste, consider nutrition and in matters of nutrition, consider taste”

Myth 3: The more exercise we do, the better it is.

Exercise is a great way to keep our bodies strong and healthy. If exercise is used for a result on the scale, it will disappoint and it will be difficult to sustain. It’s easy to justify over-exercising because it is seen as such a healthy activity. Exercise can become compulsive and cause problems. If you find yourself exercising to make up for eating or if you feel bad because you haven’t exercised and you fear gaining weight, this may be the start of an unhealthy relationship with exercise.

What can you do instead?

Change your mindset around movement to see it as a benefit for overall physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Moving our bodies is like a gift we give to ourselves for physical, emotional and mental well-being. Move your body for well-being versus weight loss by choosing a type of movement that feels good to you and not that necessarily burns the most calories. Sometimes going for a short walk or parking the car far away and walking to the shops is good enough!

Myth 4: People who are thinner are healthier.

There are healthy thin people and unhealthy thin people just like there are people in large bodies that are healthy and unhealthy. Health comes in all sizes!

What can you think instead?

Size is not a determinant of health. There are many other health factors to consider like stress, sleep, exercise, smoking and drinking.  Let’s focus on wellness at any size rather than size itself. Embrace body and size diversity.

Myth 5: I have no control and willpower around food.

This is something I hear from many successful women I work with. They run companies, own their own businesses and manage a home and family. In order to do these things you need willpower and self-control.

What to think and do instead?

Firstly remind yourself that it’s not a matter of willpower. In fact, control, willpower, restriction and deprivation lead to out of control eating. Develop a flexible mindset to food and eating where you focus on being in charge of your eating instead of in control. The more we try to control our food, the more it controls us.

Which myth have you been believing? Share your thoughts with me, I would love to hear from you.

May we all find freedom from diets.

Wishing you peace,

“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.”

Karen L, Denver, USA

“I felt hopeless and helpless in my daily struggle with mindless eating for many years. Then I found Xen which is exactly what I needed! My decision to work with her helped me to finally repair my relationship with food. It's changing my life for the better, one day at a time. Now I have control over the food, instead of it having control over me, which is the way it should be. I highly recommend Xen to anyone who has a desire to overcome similar food struggles. Xen, thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Karen J, Colorado, USA

“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

Sweta Vikram, New York, USA

“Working with Xenia was amazing. She armed me with a bunch of tools to help me through difficult times. Xenia is the kind of person who really cares for helping you in the long run. Her work will forever have an impact in my life.”

Daniela Velásquez, Ottawa, Canada

“Working with Xen was a game changer for me. After working together for a few months my relationship with food radically changed. I no longer felt like a failure. I now have the tools to nourish my body with foods that feel good in my body. I don’t feel guilty about eating cake or chocolate, I also don’t overeat cake and chocolate. I no longer feel the need to exercise to compensate for my eating. I feel much more free around eating and I am more accepting of my body. Xen has a nonjudgmental and compassionate approach to coaching and really supports you in the process.”

Rachel, Dublin, Ireland

“Working with Xen has been very empowering. Her approach is so refreshing from the usual. I have learned that I am in charge and that I get to choose what I put in my body and how to move my body in a way that I like! I get to make my own choices. It’s so liberating. Once you get a taste of freedom with food, there is no turning back to old ways! Thanks Xen for guiding me along the way to freedom.”

Heather B, Cork. Ireland

“This is the answer for those of you that struggle with food and all that surrounds it. Xenia said that I could make peace with food and it seemed at the time like an impossible dream. Turns out it isn’t. I recommend Xen and the mindful eating / intuitive eating approach unreservedly. If you have any questions about my experience, please get in touch. Thank you Xen. My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”

Michelle, Johannesburg, South Africa

“Xenia was a walking, living, breathing example of what can be done. I laughed and cried my way through a short course in this fascinating and invigorating programme with her, and have gained a designer tote full of coping skills that go way beyond containing kilogrammes. I feel infinitely lighter. I am doing this for me and, yes, you can do this for you too! And believe me, I’m cynical!”

Diana, Vancouver, Canada

“I don’t obsess about food like I used to. I am thinking differently about food and feeling so much more relaxed around all types of food. It’s wonderful to have pleasure and satisfaction from eating.”

Sarah, Illinois, USA

“I learned a new way of thinking about food. I have learned that food is not the enemy and that it can actually be enjoyed with no guilt.”

Sandy, London, United Kingdom

Certified by The Life Coach School Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro Professional Member of The Center for Mindful Eating