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How to Ditch the Diet Mentality

So, you’ve decided you want to improve your diet — but where do you start? More likely than not, browsing the internet for the healthiest foods to eat will only leave you feeling more confused. Some diets vilify fats, while others suggest a high-fat diet. Popular intermittent fasting diets suggest skipping breakfast, but others claim it will slow down your metabolism. So, which is it? What foods should you eat?

With so many guidelines around the best foods to eat, getting caught up in a “perfect diet” mindset can actually become more harmful than healthy.

While I'm a big advocate of healthy eating, there is a fine line between a healthy eating mentality and a restrictive mindset. With that being said, it’s not always obvious! It can be easy for this line to become blurred, especially when you’re caught up trying to achieve the “perfect diet”.

Why Restrictive Dieting is Problematic

Science has shown that restrictive dieting just doesn’t work — not only can it be detrimental to your mental health, but research also suggests restrictive diets are one of the best predictors of weight gain. A UCLA study found that nearly one-third to two-thirds of people on diets tend to gain more weight back than they lost within four to five years. Another study on adolescents found that dieting was not only ineffective but may lead to weight gain.

Life’s too short to eat bland foods that bum you out, and there’s just no reason to. Whether your goals are weight loss, gain, or nothing to do with weight at all, these healthy eating tips will set you up to see nutritious food in a whole new light.

One of the ultimate hacks when it comes to how to eat healthy has nothing to do with cooking tips and everything to do with what’s up in your brain! That’s right — ditch the diet mentality.

How To Adopt A Healthy Eating Mentality

Color Your Diet

Develop a healthy eating mentality by shifting your perspective on healthy eating from restriction to abundance! Rather than focusing on what to leave out of your diet, consider what you could add in. Aim to fill your plate with a variety of colorful fruits and veggies — each color contains various vitamins and minerals! See how many colors you can incorporate into your diet each week.

Eat Enough Calories

Reducing calories too much can actually have the opposite effect when it comes to weight loss. Not only do you risk slowing down your metabolism, but extreme calorie deprivation often leads to overeating and health issues. With that being said, you can still adopt a healthy eating mentality while trying to meet your health and fitness goals! The important thing to remember is slow and steady progress will make for long-term results.

Balance Your Plate

Unless you have food allergies or sensitivities, cutting out entire food groups could lead to restrictive, unhealthy behaviors. When eaten in balanced proportions, all of the macronutrients are essential to maintain optimal health! Try to balance your plate by incorporating healthy carbs, protein, and fats with each meal.

Intuitive Eating

Let’s be real — nobody likes dieting! Counting every single calorie and food that you eat is exhausting and stressful. If only there was a way you could eat healthy yet enjoy the occasional splurge, all without guilt.

Well, there is — it’s called intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is a mindful approach to healthy eating, characterized by actively listening to your body and making food choices from a place of love and nourishment. Adopting this healthy eating mentality leaves room for honoring your body’s cravings while also prioritizing nutrition and nourishment. Simply put, this is a balanced mindset!

The non-diet approach of intuitive eating has been associated with a healthier relationship with food. A mindset that is just as good for your mental health as it is your physical health? Sounds like an across-the-board win!

The Takeaway

Despite what mainstream diet culture leads us to believe, there’s no perfect diet. We’re all different — what works for one person won’t necessarily work for the next. But keep in mind, an anti-diet lifestyle isn’t synonymous with an anti-health lifestyle! You can still adopt a healthy eating mentality while maintaining your health and fitness goals.

Listen to your body and remember, food is meant to be enjoyed! Don’t be afraid to treat yourself every now and then.

You can still have health and fitness goals, but it’s time to stop thinking healthy eating means deprivation. You can still optimize your muscle growth with a protein-rich diet without eating boiled chicken. You can still lose a few pounds without drastically cutting your calories. It’s all about reframing your thought process!

Once you get out of the diet mentality and start seeing how to eat healthy as an opportunity to try a smorgasbord of new flavors and dishes, it’ll become the farthest thing from a chore.

Cheers to healthy eating habits you can actually enjoy. Bon Appetit!

Be Intentionally Well

Jaime Palinchak

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach


I don’t believe in dieting. I believe in eating healthy meals that leave you feeling good.

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