The holiday season is upon us and if there is one gift I could give you, it would be strength and commitment to ditch the diet mentality.
With food being in abundance at holiday parties, it’s pretty much near impossible to escape talk of current or future diets, or the notion that you need to “make up" for the holiday cookies, cake, or cheese plate.
The only thing that you need to limit however, is unnecessary guilt about the food that you eat. No need to latch onto the belief that abstaining from holiday treats makes you a “better person". It’s simply not true, and I'll argue this point a thousand times over.
As a therapist specializing in eating disorders, I witness the devastating effects that chronic dieting, disordered eating, or a full-blown eating disorder can have on a person’s psyche, relationships, emotional, and physical health.
There are those out there who may wonder if they really need help. Maybe it's you reading this right now who beats yourself up for what you eat and how your body looks. It is my hope that this post provides some helpful perspective and compassion for yourself this holiday season.
I am thankful to know many incredibly caring and competent eating disorder professionals in the Dallas area that help people of all ages and backgrounds create a healthy relationship with food and their body.
Without further adieu, here are top-notch professionals' reasons for why you should ditch the diet mentality once and for all!
(If wanting more information about each professional, please click their name for direct link to respective website.)
“No one can tell you what it means to be the best version of you. That not only includes your personality, job, partner, children, etc., but it also includes your body and how you feed it. Being your true authentic self includes feeding YOUR body what it needs, not what the culture thinks it needs.”
Whitney Russell, MS, LPC-S, CEDS, Program Director at Center For Discovery- Dallas
“Hunger is an internal biological drive that must be satisfied or consequences will occur. The most common backfire to dieting is the preoccupation with food and then the resultant pattern of overeating and or compulsive eating response. Rejecting the diet mentality allows one to return to honoring that internal biological drive, returns enjoyment back to eating and food and increases satisfaction and overall well-being.”
Laura May-Roelse, MA, RD/LD, Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian
”The diet mentality creates dissatisfaction and discouragement more frequently because you are focused on numbers and body processes that are out of your control. This prevents you from focusing on the amazing things your body helps you accomplish every day, and participating in your experience of the world. During the upcoming holidays, why not focus on enjoying meaningful connection with the people, environment, and novelties around you instead of fixating on food and appearance which limit your ability to feel joy?”
Brandi Reinhardt, MA, LPC-Intern Certified Level II ETT Therapist
“Dieting turns eating into a series of successes and failures. It damages your relationship with food and teaches you not to trust your own judgment, your preferences, or your natural hunger and fullness cues. Ditch the diet mentality and find the way of eating that works best for you!”
Rachael McBride, MCN, RD/LD, Registered and Licensed Dietitian
"I think emotions are really fluid and so is your food intake. The danger in dieting is that it can be something that end up greatly impacting your emotions. Emotions can be a place to draw strength from and it's important to be able to trust that they aren't so easily negatively impacted."
Candace David, MA, LPC, LCDC at EMPOWERED Counseling
“If you cannot cut something out forever, don't bother trying. Restricting always leads to overeating. Think about sleep, if you cut back on your ZZZ's, you will fall asleep during class or worse, fall asleep while driving. Same goes with food!”
Pam Chin-Lai, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD at Girls To Women
“The diet mentality is not sustainable or nourishing, and breeds unhelpful thinking: negative, black and white, and judgmental thinking.:
- Negative Thinking: "I should", "I can't", "I'm not good enough", "I've failed"
- Black or White Thinking: Foods are good or bad, clean or dirty, entire categories of foods are cut out or extremity limited.
- Judgment: A message that everything you were doing is wrong and everything the diet says to do it right. 100% of the time for 100% of people. "
Intuitive eating and a positive relationship with food will bring you freedom, flexibility, balance, and health."
Whitney Bunch, MS, LPC, NCC at White Rock Counseling
“Hunger, shmunger. Feed your body when it tells you to and you will go far….Also, I love crisp salads in the summer and tofurkey, candied yams, and pie on Thanksgiving. Flexibility is freedom.”
Kiersten Rapstine, Clinical Supervisor, LPC-S, CEDS at Renfrew Center of Dallas
"The diet mentality perpetuates the concept of labeling foods good versus bad, which we as a society then assign moral characteristics to. "I'm a good person, because I don't eat 'bad' foods." By removing those labels and practicing concepts of balance, variety, and moderation you can enjoy all foods while minimizing feelings of guilt or shame."
Mayah Brand, RD/LD at Eating Recovery Center of Dallas
“The reality that we often forget is that we don’t NEED to diet. If we are feeding our bodies appropriately and consistently, we will live at a healthy weight. Our body knows what to do with the food we put in it-we don’t need to control that process."
Kelley Doss, LPC-S at EMPOWERED Counseling
“Dieting inflicts a shame culture around food. I don’t want to feel bad or shameful about what I’m eating. If I want a slice of pizza or a piece of chocolate, I want to eat those mindfully with enjoyment, not guilt and shame.”
Brandi Smith, MS, LPC-Intern at Eating Recovery Center of Dallas
"I know for me, the word “diet” never brought any healing, happiness, or health into my life even when I wished it would. If anything I just felt sad, lonely and that diet mentality tormented me for years. Because the diet mentality means never being satisfied with oneself. It's become a solution to fix something that’s wrong even when nothing is wrong; it’s become a self-destructive option for people to use towards themselves."
“The diet mentality is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It keeps you hooked with empty promises of meaning and fulfillment—but it’s never good enough. Finding balance in your relationship with food and image is where I believe real freedom grows. Like my mom always says, “All things in moderation, including moderation.”
"You can only motivate yourself with hatred for so long until you feel hopeless and give up. This is what the diet industry thrives on. There is no perfect way to eat; the only way to know what you should eat and how much is by connecting and listening to your body in the moment."
Casey Voorhies Bonano, RD, LD, CEDRD at Dallas Nutritional Counseling
"Diets are full of rules about when and what you can eat. The truth is… no food is illegal. So why do we punish ourselves, like we’ve committed a “crime” by running three miles or skipping the next meal for eating a few Oreos? When we release rules around food we free ourselves and food becomes simply what it is meant to be… enjoyable fuel and energy to live our lives to the fullest."
Jessica Callicutt, MS, LPC-S, RPT-S, CEDS-S, NCC
Child/Adolescent and Eating Disorder Specialist at EMPOWERED Counseling
"Diet mentality makes you feel small, but not in the ways society tells you. It shrinks your passion, your vibrancy, your soul and is-ness by telling you need to be different or that you're not enough as-is. By restricting our physical intake, we restrict our shine."
Noel Crane, MS, LPC at Human Kind Wellness
"When you ditch the diet mentality, you open up more time and energy to fully enjoy life. This holiday season (and beyond) can you choose to embody compassion, patience, gratitude, and peace for yourself and others? Just imagine how different your life would be if you were to translate these qualities into your relationship with food and your body."
Julianne Schroeder, MS, LPC, NCC at EMPOWERED Counseling
If you find yourself preoccupied with food, exercise, and/or body image, and feel anxious or out of control, please know that you are not alone. Please know that, it does not always have to be this way either, and consider talking with someone.
If looking for inspiration or helpful reminders like this for your overall health, please follow me on Instagram: @julianneschroedercounseling.
Wishing you all a joyous holiday season, full of compassion, enjoyable food, and what matters most to you! -- Julianne