Diet Recovery: The 3 Phases
Diet recovery and intuitive eating are not linear. A common misconception is that you just give up dieting and move on with your life. But, it’s not always that simple. Although there are likely many folks for whom this has worked, we would venture to say that it’s not common. And also, why make it harder on yourself?
We’ve worked with many women who’ve given up dieting and tried to move on with their lives but, six months, 12 months, a couple of years later, they wind up in our program because they just couldn’t quite figure this whole intuitive eating thing out. They suffered longer than was necessary.
Because they still felt like they were thinking about food all the time. Or knew what to do but just weren’t doing it. Or worse, they had given up formally dieting but still found themselves trapped in a fraught relationship with food, binging and emotional eating.
So today we wanted to discuss why setting realistic expectations around what this journey commonly looks like is important. We’ll share the three distinct phases of diet recovery and what’s important to know in order to make it to that place of food freedom on the other side.
And if you’d rather listen in while we unpack this, you can do so over on the pod this week too. Tune in here:
The Diet Recovery Phases
Phase 1: Diet Rock Bottom
We like to call this phase of diet recovery Diet Rock Bottom. You’ve reached a place where you simply cannot muster the will to go on one. more. diet. You’re exhausted. Depleted. Sick and tired of being sick and tired. And somewhere deep down, you know that if this was going to work, it would have worked by now. That if you’re ever going to live a happy, confident life, you must find a different way to relate to food and your body because you simply cannot do this anymore.
You’ve likely been on more diets than you can count for longer than you can remember. You’re obsessed with food and your body. You feel out of control. You think you should have had this food thing figured out by now. You’re ashamed. Frustrated. Defeated.
Common symptoms of Diet Rock Bottom also include:
- Simply contemplating a diet triggers cravings, emotional eating and binging
- The moment you eat something off the diet, you binge
- You have zero trust in yourself around food (which is eroding your trust in other areas of life)
- You feel you don’t deserve to eat sometimes
- The time you can stick to a diet is getting shorter and shorter
- You find yourself over-eating in anticipation of starting a new diet tomorrow (aka Last Supper Syndrome)
- You feel the urge to withdraw socially for fear of blowing your diet or being seen
- Your metabolism is sluggish, it takes herculean effort to lose weight and no effort at all to gain it
- You use caffeine or sugar to make it through the day
- While you might see the futility of dieting, your desire to lose weight has not changed
While Diet Rock Bottom is painful for sure, it’s also an important turning point. Because if you still believe deep down that dieting will eventually work, you might stay stuck in this battle for even longer. Recognizing deep in your gut, or your intuition, or whatever you might want to call it, that you cannot do this anymore is important. Many women we speak to in Breakthrough Sessions simply aren’t there yet. (There’s nothing wrong with that either.) They might not be ready to take a leap of faith and start to do things differently. They’re simply not in enough pain to want to change just yet. But if you see yourself in the descriptions above, then you are ready for the process that will bring you back to your body, back to sanity and peace and back to eating intuitively.
Phase 2: Healing from Dieting
Think about finding your way out of an uncomfortable labyrinth designed specifically for you. That’s what this phase of diet recovery is like. You’ll work your way through all 10 principles of intuitive eating, practicing each in your daily life and noticing what comes up. You’ll make the decision to leave dieting behind. You’ll practice honoring your hunger and making peace with food. You’ll notice your patterns and reconnect to your body and taste preferences. You’ll work through the guilt and shame and morality you might harbor around food choices. And you’ll just generally start to practice eating normally again. You’ll confront your internalized weight bias, body image and the underlying reasons you personally upheld the ideal body standards in your own life. And you’ll work to untangle your worth from your weight as well as addressing the underlying cause of the dysfunction around food.
Healing from dieting is a long, windy process of unlearning years of diet culture messaging and relearning a new paradigm for health and wellness that is not centered on body weight. It’s a path of discovery and non judgmental awareness that requires patience, mindfulness and self-compassion. It is deep, messy, non-linear work that can be both profoundly uncomfortable and liberating at the same time. In the words of a recent client of ours “doing this work is the best gift you can give yourself.”
In our intuitive eating coaching program we link arms and guide and support you through this entire phase.
Phase 3: Intuitive Eating
You are an intuitive eater once again. You have healed from chronic dieting and disordered eating. Food is generally a non issue in your life. You trust your body. You honor your hunger and your fullness. You enjoy food and make choices around it without guilt or shame or emotional turmoil. You feel good about your relationship with food and empowered in taking care of yourself. You’ve learned new, additional coping skills for life and aren’t entirely reliant on food to soothe yourself anymore. You move to respect and care for yourself in a way that feels good and no longer use exercise as compensation or punishment. Nutrition information is a useful tool for self-care instead of a rigid guidepost for failure. Your concerns about weight, even if they linger, will be greatly diminished and no longer so disruptive to your well-being. You’ll feel free from diet culture’s pull and relieved that you never have to diet again. You’ll be more aware of the oppressive nature of diet culture itself and its impact on our society.
Although these changes might seem impossible to you at the moment, with the right guidance, support and community, we believe they’re possible for you too.
Your Diet Recovery
Don’t go at it alone though, it will likely only prolong the time it takes to heal. Jump all the way in, and watch how quickly things can shift.
Book your free, Breakthrough Session today. And let’s get started.