How to Get Healthy without Dieting
How to Get Healthy without Dieting
You’ve quit dieting. You’re on board with this whole intuitive eating thing but, at the beginning of this life-long practice, it typically can look like eating a lot more of all the foods, which is great and healing from an emotional and moral standpoint (because, fuck diet culture). However, you might not be physically feeling your best. So, perhaps it’s time to Google “how to get healthy without dieting?”
If you’re anything like our clients, you are also an intelligent, powerful, adult female or female-identifying human. You know vegetables work. You’d like to be able to combine some of the extensive nutrition knowledge you’ve amassed over the years with actually taking care of yourself – just without all the harm of dieting.
And so you’re starting to think in terms of gentle nutrition and honoring your health. But you might be freaking out a little. You’ve probably never even considered how to get healthy without dieting before.
And it’s a good question. And one we’re going to examine at length today, so strap in. And if you’re more of a podcast lady, pop in your airpods because we broke this down over there as well.
We Have to Address Our Illusion of Control
First things first, regardless of what Dr. Oz and organic vegetable wellness warriors have been trying to convince us, personal responsibility has a smaller overall impact on our health outcomes than we’ve been led to believe.
Yes, of course, if health is a value for us, there are many things we can do to try to influence it. Of course, nutrition and movement matter. But you know what also matters? Access to health care. You know what has a very large impact and is outside of our control? Genetics.
We have to examine our belief that militantly cutting gluten and only eating meat raised within 30 feet of our homes is going to protect us from all disease. Or that if we have an autoimmune disease or chronic illness, that it’s our fault for not being able to perfectly eat our way out of it.
A problem with the wellness industry is that it leads many of us to believe that if we are sick, or facing health challenges, we’re to blame.
That’s not true. And that belief is leading a lot of us into orthorexia.
Weight is Not a Behavior
So now we want to look at that 40% section around behavioral patterns, the part we can influence. If health is a value for you, there are many things you can do, depending on your circumstances (quick reminder: intuitively eating is a privilege not afforded to everyone) to try to improve it. But we also need to talk about one important fact that is often overlooked:
Weight is not a behavior.
Seriously. A huge issue with the medical and wellness industries right now is that it’s typically suggested we seek improved health through weight loss. The two are so strongly connected that if we didn’t call this out, you would likely just imagine everything we’re about to say being useful because it leads to weight loss. That is not true.
Sure, if you were to start taking better care of yourself, you might lose weight. But losing weight will not be the reason you are healthier. For some, when they start taking better care of themselves, they may gain weight. Some may stay the same. But all will likely see an improvement in health regardless of what happens with weight.
So What Do We Know?
When we start thinking about how to get healthy without dieting and we’re looking at that large section labeled ‘behavioral patterns’ above, we have to think outside the diet-industrial complex box (link to Lu pod) and look at what we really know about what constitutes health-affirming behaviors. We actually know a lot less than Gwyneth and her band of pseudoscience-loving wellness crusaders would like us to believe.
- We know that more fruits and vegetables = good
- We know that more joyful movement = good
- We know that more alcohol (or any) = not good (yes, even red wine and botanically-infused “clean” cocktails)
- We know that more smoking (or any) = not good
But that’s about it in terms of your standard-issue, physical-body-related health and nutrition advice. Within the realm of personal responsibility, these four behaviors have a much bigger impact than our weight.
As we begin to approach our behaviors around health, we want to shift our thinking from the diet culture lens of what to restrict to the anti-diet lens of what to add in. So begin by thinking in terms of more.
How to Get Healthy without Dieting: Think in Terms of More
Could I eat more fruits and vegetables every day?
Could I find a way to build more joyful movement into my routines? (all movement counts)
Could I find a way to get more sleep?
Could I sip some more water?
The only places we really want to think in terms of less, is when it comes to drugs and alcohol. (Side note: why do we always give alcohol a pass? Like we go straight from juice cleanses to happy hour. GOOP has cocktail-sponsored wellness events? We used to do this too. But, that’s a conversation for another time on the pod.)
We also want to be thinking not just about food and movement but about the bigger picture too. How are we taking care of our whole selves, not just the part of us that we see in the mirror?
How to Get Healthy without Dieting: Think in Terms of the Bigger Picture
Could I have more fun?
Can I create more connections?
Can I get more fresh air?
Can I get more rest and relaxation?
Can I be more proactive in managing my stress?
Can I plan to truly unplug more?
How to Get Healthy without Dieting: The Most Commonly Overlooked of All
Can I get serious about extending myself more compassion?
We are so quick to beat ourselves up and so slow to offer ourselves the same compassion we offer those around us. Having a bully in our heads all day long is very stressful. And stress is awful for our health. How can we work on that nasty voice in our minds and start to be our own advocate and cheerleader? How can we lower our stress by making the inside of our own head a nicer place to be?
“Unlike self-criticism, which asks if you’re good enough, self-compassion asks, what’s good for you?”
– Kristen Neff
Of course, all of this is a lot easier to work on if you’ve healed your relationship with food and your body.
But most impactful of all would be to hop on the phone with us for a free Breakthrough Session, where we will get clear on exactly what’s not working for you, what you’re missing in order to fix it and a step-by-step plan to get you started down the right path.
Book your free Breakthrough Session today!