Updated: Sep 27, 2020
How does dieting affect our self-esteem? When we think about the answer, an automatic response might be well " once I lose my weight, my self-esteem will increase. When I lose this weight my life will be perfect and I will finally be happy."
Well, unfortunately, this is not true. When and if you lose weight by dieting, you will probably gain all of your weight back plus a few extra pounds. When you fail at your diet, your self-esteem suffers. With each diet failure, your self-esteem plummets. With each diet you start, the pressure mounts, I used to say " I have to stick to my diet this time, this is it, this is my only hope of ever being happy." I would almost be on a high when I would think of starting my next diet on Monday," this time I will finally be thin!" Then Monday would come, I would stick to my restrictive diet till maybe Thursday. Stress, my mood, or pure hunger would make me fall off my diet. I would say "forget it, I already fell off of my diet, I can eat freely because I am not allowed these forbidden foods on my next diet." Then the pounds would be packed on, diet after diet, my weight went higher and my self-esteem lower.
The truth is that diets fail us we don't fail at our diets. It is not our fault. Our body is meant to have carbs and fats and all the other essential nutrients to keep our body functioning. When we are deprived of needed foods in our diet our primal drive is to eat them. So, that is when we think we have failed our diet. The diet industry is alive and well and actually thriving because of what we think is our failure. Since diets don't work and we just think another diet that will work is just around the corner, we buy the pills, shakes or quick fix that promises weight loss.
I have been implementing Intuitive Eating into my life for a while now. Intuitive Eaters have higher self-esteem and are more likely to participate in healthy behaviors than non Intuitive Eaters. I feel free now, free from diet rules, failure, and deprivation. I eat sweets and healthy foods too. Intuitive Eaters listen to their bodies and are in tune with the cues their body is sending regarding hunger and fullness signals. No diet can possibly know what, when, and how much food to eat, only our bodies know. When an outside source tries to control our intake of food, our inner rebellious child comes out and we can feel violated. I used to be so sensitive when talking about my weight and especially when I failed a diet.
Now, my mood and self-esteem have improved. I eat according to what my body needs and wants. I don't weigh myself as often as I used to. My emotional eating episodes are fewer and less severe. I exercise because it improves my mood, makes me stronger and helps with my anxiety. I don't exercise to lose weight anymore, phew; less pressure.
We are all born Intuitive Eaters, but somewhere growing up we lost our ability to listen to our bodies. Well-meaning parents and diet culture tried to tell us how to eat. We all have the ability to bring back our inborn Intuitive Eater and I as a coach have the tools that can help. I coach clients in the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating for 6 months at a time. It takes time to unlearn all the diet rules that we have been living by and to start loving and listening to our bodies again. It is such an exciting journey, I would love to help and support you along with your rediscovery of your Intuitive Eater within.