EXPERTS have revealed 11 key signs you are addicted to dieting.
While it’s okay to aim for a healthy weight, obsessing over food, exercise and being thin can destroy your emotional wellbeing.
Beyonce recently revealed she had suffered mentally as a result of her old dieting ways.
The singer told Harper’s Bazaar she had “spent too much time on diets, with the misconception that self-care meant exercising and being overly conscious of my body”.
The beliefs Beyonce held tie into what’s known as “diet culture”, experts at Cheshire-based rehab clinic Delamere Health have said.
Diet culture, in a nutshell, refers to the belief that being skinny comes above someone’s health and wellbeing.
“We experience diet culture every day, yet most people are unaware of it. That’s because it is so deeply embedded in our society that it seems completely normal,” Delamere said.
What are the signs you are addicted to dieting?
Everyone has gone on a diet at some point in their life.
But when has it gone too far, and the messaging of a healthy weight and wellbeing been lost?
The signs you are addicted to diets, and the messages that are perpetuated by diet culture, include:
- Exercising to burn off a specific number of calories
- Following a restrictive diet
- Cutting back or avoiding food groups that are considered bad, e.g sugar, fats or dairy
- Experiencing guilt or shame for eating food
- Rituals based around eating
- Suppressing appetite with other items such as nicotine, water or coffee
- Avoiding social settings that require food consumption
- Harbouring strong negative emotions and feelings towards body image
- Regularly weighing oneself and changing behaviour based on results
- Fat-shaming behaviour
- Jealousy towards others for the weight or body image
Why is constant dieting harmful?
With obesity levels at dangerous highs, and the Government keen to fix it, why are “diets” deemed bad?
“Diet culture is the glorification of weight loss, it clouds our judgement and decisions about how we feel and treat ourselves,” Delamere experts said.
“[It] can negatively impact your mental wellbeing by fueling obsessive and negative thoughts towards eating and exercise.”
Some ideologies that are ingrained in diet culture include that some foods are “good” while others are “bad”.
A person may also think exercise must be used as a way to burn off food eaten that day, and focus solely on eating foods low in calories rather than foods that are nutritious.
But on top of that, “it’s the idea that controlling your body, in particular with regards to food consumption,” Delamere experts said.
“Individuals who have been conditioned to think diet culture is a normal way of life often have low self-esteem, poor self-image, participate in negative self-talk, and believe that being slimmer makes someone more successful and beautiful.
“Diet culture can often trigger feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment and low self-worth.
“Weight loss and dieting become of high importance to individuals, and when goals are not achieved, people often experience feelings of failure… stress, anxiety and depression.”
It doesn’t stop there – dieting and the fear of putting weight on has been linked to disordered eating habits.
“Diet culture can become extremely toxic and can cause body dysmorphia, disordered eating and other common mental health illnesses,” Delamere experts said.
How to stop dieting
It may be distressing to find out what you thought was “healthy” is in fact rather harmful.
If you are overweight and focused on losing some pounds, then you may be wondering what you can do instead of dieting.
Experts suggest focusing on your health, both mentall and physically, is more important than the number on the scales or treadmill.
That means focusing on eating nutritiously balanced meals, not just “low-calorie”, and exercising because it feels good, not as a punishment.
Here are some tips from Delamere Health for anyone addicted to diets:
- Eat when you are hungry
“Intuitive eating refers to an eating style that creates a healthy attitude toward food and body image.
“The rule of thumb is to listen to your body on how and what to eat, by following your hunger cues, by doing this you will eat the right food and the correct amount.
“With intuitive eating no foods are off-limit. When you allow yourself to enjoy foods banned by restrictive diets it removes the feeling of guilt and shame you experience when eating them.
“This step often takes time, especially since people who engage in diet culture, do so unknowingly.
“During this step, you will avoid anything relating to food groups and calorie counting.”
2. Stop using the terms “good” and “bad” foods
“Diet-obsessed individuals have been conditioned into believing that certain food groups are unhealthy and bad for weight loss when indulged.
“These feelings can influence how and what you eat.
“Instead, try to remove words such as healthy, low-calorie, cheat or treat and look at food as simply a fuel of energy and source of enjoyment.”
3. Get off social media
“Social media plays a huge role in promoting an unhealthy diet and wellness culture, from paid promotions to fitness influencers and brands.
“Unfollow anyone who makes you feel like you are not exercising enough or eating the right things, as these individuals are influencing toxic diet culture messages.”
4. Practise “body neutrality”
“Body neutrality is the acceptance of your body as it is, and it encourages people to see its ability and non-physical characteristics over its appearance.
“This method shifts your mind from trying to control and change your physical appearance. Instead, it creates a more positive mindset to become less focused on how you look and more on the things you can achieve.
“Find people who inspire you and don’t focus too much attention on their appearance. Think about how the message they show and how you can implement it within your own life.”
5. Journal about your feelings
“Everyone is perceptible to toxic diet culture. But if you want to shift your lifestyle habits, you have to be aware of the role it plays in your life.
“Consider starting a thoughts and feelings journal, and record when, where and why you engaged in diet-culture behaviour at the particular moment.
“For example, make a note of when you judged your body appearance, or when you didn’t eat a certain food group because it was considered ‘bad’.”
Source: The Sun