To Diet or Not to Diet

Whenever I utter the word “diet,” people fidget in their seats, their faces harden, and they say, “oh no—not me. I’m not going there.” So before your shutters go up, please give me a chance to explain.

Skinny Thinking is not a diet; it’s about creating a new relationship to food that automatically results in greater health and a healthier weight. Diets are temporary. People are willing to stick to them for a while in order to lose weight; then they can stop and go back to their bad habits.

The goal in Skinny Thinking is to change your fundamental relationship to food, how you habitually think about food. If you don’t do that, you might as well hang it up right now. No diet, no matter how vigilant you are, is going to work without that piece.

So relax. I’m not asking you to go on yet another diet. Instead I’m encouraging you to:

  1. Permanently change your diet and
  2. Change your relationship to food.

Lets take these one at a time. There are two components to changing your diet:

  1. Changing what you’re eating habitually so that most of your calories come from healthy, nutritious, whole foods and
  2. Making sure that your portion sizes are reasonable.

Changing your diet is step one: a non-negotiable prerequisite to maintaining a healthy weight. While you are permanently changing your diet, begin to shift your relationship to food. Bad eating habits in part stem from the way you’ve been thinking about food. Hence, the diet I advocate is a “thought diet,” questioning and debunking the fantasies and imaginings that have been mediating between you and food.

When it comes right down to it, Skinny Thinking is a truth telling exercise to bust through your illusions and beliefs about food. Ultimately, you must begin to let go of deluded, misguided beliefs and your romanticized relationship with food to stop suffering and yo-yoing. In my experience, the best tool to do this is inquiry.

To recap: neither component can work without the other. Just changing the foods you eat and your portion sizes isn’t enough. Neither is changing your relationship to food, if you’re still getting the bulk of your calories from junk and eating unreasonably large portions. Just like a bird needs both of its wings to fly, your healing needs these two components: a shift in both your diet and in your relationship to food, to be complete and lasting.

The truth can’t be changed, because the truth is always the truth. You can’t continue to eat the way you’ve been eating and have the healthy body you want. It’s simple and unambiguous. Yet many of us have been in denial, pretending that it isn’t so. We want to look good, feel good, and keep eating all the junk we want. C’est impossible!

It’s natural to look for a way to somehow have your cake and eat it too, to maintain your bad habits and still enjoy a healthy, slim body. It seems like other people can do it, right? Why not you? But do you really know what other people are actually doing to maintain their thin bodies while they scarf down massive slabs of chocolate fudge cake?

Very few people can eat whatever they want and stay thin. And even if they manage to stay thin, what are the health consequences of eating all that junk? Once again, the truth is still the truth: you have to change your bad habits if you want to heal this issue. Only then will you start to reap the rewards.

If you trade your bad eating and thinking habits for good ones, over time, you will naturally settle into a healthy weight. Rather than focusing on a goal weight as you might have done when you were dieting, instead, focus on not going back to your bad habits.

You might as well just bite the bullet. Take yourself by the shoulders look yourself squarely in the eyes, and tell yourself the truth: ______ (your name), you can never go back to your bad habits and stay thin. This is the truth that most people don’t want to face.

Ask yourself: are you ready to stop worrying about and suffering over food and your weight for good? Are you really ready to be done with this issue? If you answered yes to these questions, you have taken the single most important step on this journey: admitting that how you’ve been eating no longer serves you.

I applaud you for telling the truth to yourself. To really be done, you have to transform your relationship to food forever. You have to be willing to change the way you eat and never go back to it. That’s the simple, kind truth of it. Now go forth and heal! You can do this!