Guest Post: Ditching the Diet Mentality

*Sorry for the mix-up the first time! Seems like I had the wrong text with this title – it’s such a great post, I wanted to make sure it got put it up again CORRECTLY :)

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A real post is coming – work is NUTS and I’m just wishing I was still in Spain…


Ditching the Diet Mentality

Hello, Bran Appetit readers!

My name’s Katie, and I blog about all things health and fitness over at Health for the Whole Self. My philosophy is that truly healthy living involves taking care of our entire selves – our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. We can achieve a healthy balance by striving to live life to the fullest in all of these areas.

A few months ago my husband Dave turned to me and said, "Don’t you think it’s kind of ironic that you spent years dieting but could never maintain your weight loss, and yet now that you’ve stopped dieting completely, you’re in the best shape of your life?" At first glance this seems backwards, since the promise of dieting is fast, permanent weight loss. But in reality, the fact that I’ve been able to lose weight – and keep it off – by not dieting actually makes perfect sense.

I have become a much happier, healthier person since I made the decision to ditch the diet mentality. I’d like to share with you what I see as the four key components to leaving dieting in the dust and embracing all that food – and life – has to offer!

Ditching the Dieting Mentality: Four Steps

1. Stop Labeling Food

Living with a diet mentality often means categorizing all foods as either "good" or "bad." Carrot sticks = good. Chocolate chip cookies = bad. But are chocolate chip cookies really bad? Aren’t we missing out in life if we constantly view such sweet treats as "off limits"? I once heard it said that the word "diet" could be an acronym for Don’t Imagine Eating This. What fun is that? We can reject the diet mentality by refusing to label foods as "good" or "bad," and instead adopting the mindset that all foods can and should be enjoyed in moderation.


2. Stop Feeling Guilty

Have you ever experienced food guilt? It’s that overwhelming feeling we get when we eat an extra slice of cake at the office birthday party, or have one-too-many beverages at Happy Hour. But here’s the thing about feeling guilty over overindulging: it often does more harm than good.

When we beat ourselves up over our less-than-healthy food choices, we often try to compensate by depriving ourselves the next day…but then that deprivation leads to another overindulgence, and now we’re stuck in a vicious cycle! Or sometimes, we’re so overwhelmed by our guilt that we end up emotionally eating even more! Ditching the diet mentality means accepting that sometimes we go a little overboard; it’s just a part of life, so there’s no use feeling guilty.

3. Savor the Eating Experience

If you’re reading this post, it means you are probably a frequent visitor to this and other food blogs. Which means that you – like me – probably love food and love to eat! But the diet mentality turns food into the enemy. It sucks the pleasure and joy out of eating. When I decided to stop dieting forever, I re-gained the ability to appreciate how much FUN food and eating can be!

How can we savor the eating experience? By eating in a nice, comfortable environment (read: sitting down at the table, as opposed to standing in front of the refrigerator). By eating slowly and mindfully (read: paying attention to the food, instead of the television, the computer, or any other distraction). And you know what I’ve found? When I truly savor the eating experience, I often end up eating less – a few bites of a rich dessert is enough to satisfy me.

4. Strive for Balance

I truly believe that living a healthy life doesn’t mean making 100% healthy choices 100% of the time. Rather, living a healthy life means making healthy decisions most of the time. If your food choices usually include lean proteins, whole carbs, and lots of fruits and veggies, some junk food every now and then won’t harm you. If you regularly engage in moderate exercise, a lazy day here and there is no big deal. Being healthy isn’t about being perfect. In fact, balance is what makes life fun and interesting – and keeps us sane!


The diet mentality is everywhere: magazines, books, advertisements, commercials. But I’ve found that true health and happiness come from rejecting that mentality, and instead striving for moderation and balance. Because I don’t want to miss out on anything – not food, not life!

What do you think of the diet mentality?

(photos by Dave McLaughlin)


  1. The diet mentality = bad in my opinion.

    Great post!

  2. Great post! I sometimes struggle with the idea that I’m losing weight, but wouldn’t ever say I’m dieting, and you phrased it wonderfully – ditch the diet mentality!

  3. I totally agree with this, balance is so important!

  4. Pingback: Health for the Whole Self » Ditching the Diet Mentality

  5. Great post! I have the food guilt sometimes too and need to stop! I do think balance is very important which is why I allow myself alcohol and sweets when I want them!

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  7. Loved this post! :D

  8. The link in the first part of the post to Health for the Whole Self is not correct. If you want to visit Health for the Whole Self, go to :)

  9. these are some awesome tips. it is always so hard for me to try to get people to ditch the diet mentality, i will have to send them this way to read this post!

  10. Agree. You miss a lot when you start labelling food bad. There is no bad food. Every food is made with full love by the maker, and delicious too. I mean, there is no people in this world intending to make bad food. They make it so people can enjoy it.

  11. Pingback: Health for the Whole Self » Good Food/Bad Food = Good Girl/Bad Girl?

  12. “Aren’t we missing out in life if we constantly view such sweet treats as “off limits”?”

    I always find it strange to hear sentiments like this; they just seem to further perpetuate the diet mentality, in my eyes, by keeping food on a pedestal as central to the validity of our human experience. Not eating cookies is not ‘missing out on life.’ It’s not eating an item of food. You’ll live. Find something else to give your life meaning.

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  15. Hi
    I liked reading what you were thinking…savor a bit…what you are saying seem so important. In order to “ditch” the diet mentality, we have to say different words to ourselves in our heads. So what are those words?

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