In my Instagram stories I asked you all, “What are some diet culture rules that you’re having a hard time getting rid of?” These are the most popular responses I received:
- Carbs are bad
- The skinnier I am, the more beautiful I am
- Processed food is bad
I wanted to cover this via blog & podcast because 15 seconds on an Instagram reel just isn’t enough. We need to get to the root of this. So many of us (myself included) have food rules we are still holding onto. As we go through our life, we are either putting more energy into reinforcing these rules or doing our best to destroy them. If you are someone who finds themselves with food rules like no carbs after 7 pm, or labelling foods “good” or “bad”, I want you to keep reading.
I know how confusing nutrition can be with so much contradictory information out there. You will literally see doctors on Tik Tok posting: 5 foods you shouldn’t eat!…This is why you’re gaining fat!…and honestly this stuff drives me nuts because it just promotes more fear around food.
These posts reinforce the dangerous beliefs we already have, and odds are they aren’t working out for you. If they were, I don’t think you’d be here with me today.
So how do we break this cycle of fear? It isn’t going to be easy, but here’s where you can start:
Start to question things. If you find a food rule coming up, question it. For example, mine was “Bread is bad.” I want you to take your food rule and then ask and answer a series of questions until you get to your answer. From there, you can assess if that answer is actually helpful.
Why is bread bad?
Because I was told eating it will lead me to gain weight.
Where does this belief come from?
Growing up I’d see tv shows damning carbs & preaching that skinny women only eat salads. Plus seeing so many people do Atkins and lose a lot of weight..this kinda reinforced carbs and bread were bad.
Do I actually gain weight every time I eat bread?
In reality, no. My weight doesn’t fluctuate hugely every time I eat bread. I don’t get bloated. I actually don’t physically feel bad at all.
Do I enjoy bread? Does it keep me full?
Yes! I do!
Sometimes you’ll find you ask 4 questions, sometimes more…sometimes you mind find yourself with a “because ____ told me” in which case I think it’s good to dig a little deeper into what the reality behind things is.
Sometimes letting go of these rules can be utterly terrifying. I would spiral: If I stop cutting carbs, I’m going to gain weight. If I gain weight, I’m going to feel even less confident than I already feel. So, I held onto these rules as a means of protection.
But I want you to use the logical part of your brain. I used to think that if I allowed myself to eat a slice of bread, it would open the floodgates. I’d snowball into only eating carbs and I would balloon up. In reality what leads to change in any form is time and consistency. Sure, if I’m only eating slices of bread, potato chips, and cookies every day in a surplus of calories, I will gain weight. But odds are that’s not what your diet is going to consist of. You throwing a food rule out the window doesn’t mean throwing out what you know makes you feel good. If you are working on letting go of these rules, find comfort in knowing that nothing will change overnight.
When we finally have the courage to heal our mindset, we need to acknowledge that it won’t be easy or linear. We’ve held onto these beliefs for years. These beliefs are habitual. Your best bet at destroying them will be to form healthier habits in their place. A few examples could be focusing on listening to your hunger cues, adding more vegetables to 1 or every meal, taking a walk on your lunch break, etc… Replacing these old habits is going to take patience, discipline, and a little creativity. Once we come up with a plan, we expect the work after will be easy. But it’s not going to be easy. We are deconstructing beliefs and habits beaten into us over years of practice.
If you need help developing intuitive eating habits check out this blog post that will teach you how. I want to encourage you to take a step back and approach any food rules with a logical lens. This will godsend when reinforcing new healthier habits. Try and be that voice of reason for yourself & this post is always here if you need a reminder.