Diet Mentality Ick – A Rant | TMOHP Episode 128

Whether you choose to or not, it’s difficult to be a woman and not be continually exposed to the assumptions and stresses of diet mentality and deprivation thinking. Recently I experienced a few instances where I was surprised by diet thinking and beliefs and the stress that goes along with them. These experiences, that I’ll share with you, definitely highlight the difference between pursuing freedom from overeating vs. working to get “in control” of it. This episode also covers the difference between advice and support and the way that requests for support might be eliciting the opposite of what you need to end struggles with overeating.

In this episode:

  • Going out to lunch with someone - and the stories they were telling themselves about me
  • When weight loss “support” completely misses the mark
  • Advice vs. support
  • The role of compassion in healing that so many experts miss

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • The Freedom from Overeating Roadmap for Smart, Busy Women is your guide to ending overeating and emotional eating habits. Designed for multitaskers and busy women, you’ll take your power back from overeating with this free guide which includes resources for addressing the reasons you overeat and a user guide for Dr. Melissa’s most popular podcast episodes. Download your roadmap here:
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Join the Freedom from Overeating and Emotional Eating Community on Facebook
  • Private Coaching for Emotional Eating and Overeating: I have openings in my schedule to work with about twelve women a year and openings are filled as space becomes available. Private coaching meetings are scheduled via Zoom or phone and we can connect from anywhere in the world. Private coaching is customized to you and your goals and we'll work together for a minimum of six months. Learn more and apply here.
  • Visit for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody, let's get right to it. Today I want to talk about diet mentality ick. I couldn't think of a better label for it. Just the ick that is diet mentality. I think I have a little bit of a rant that I need to do.

So backstory, a little bit of backstory. It might surprise you to know that I do not spend very much time around women who are talking about their weight. And talking about weight loss. At least not in the way that you might imagine. And I know that might sound weird. I mean, I do run a program to help women stop overeating. Right? And I do talk a lot about emotional eating and a lot of women who I work with do want to lose weight.

But it's so different the way we approach it. And it's so different the way that I talk about it and we talk about it in the community. It is just so different and safe inside that cocoon of the program. So if you know me, if this is not your first episode, then you know that what we do inside the program is we're tackling the reasons that you want to overeat.

We are taking the power away from food and giving you your power back. Members inside the program are figuring out the way of eating that works for them. And the way of eating that helps them meet their goals, and that doesn't feel icky or controlling or depriving.

And I forget sometimes that I am surrounded by this approach. So even though I record this podcast every week and I coach inside Your Missing Peace, which is the program I was just talking about and work with private clients specifically around these issues of overeating and emotional eating and weight. I don't often encounter straight up diet talk and diet approaches. At least diet talk and diet approaches that are aimed at me. Or I'm not often in conversations with diet talk and diet approaches where people assume that I am drinking that same Kool Aid and I feel the same way that they do.

And when I do find myself in those situations, it just feels so awful. For me, when that happens, it is a reminder of what a toxic stew that stuff is. And also how much we are so many people, me less these days, but how many women are swimming in this toxic stew of diet talk and diet mentality and what you should do and what you shouldn't do.

And if I'm honest, it is also a reminder of the differences in how my brain works now. And the different thoughts and the beliefs that I have about food and weight and about taking care of my body and how other or different they are from that mainstream approach that I get to avoid most of the time. And I'm so glad I do because it feels icky.

And I know what's out there. I teach about it. I talk about it all the time, but I don't feel it. Except for every once in a while, every once in a while I have a weird experience.

In my day to day life. I have friends and people who surround me who like to eat and I think have pretty healthy relationships with food. We have foodie couple friends. Right? Friends that are other couples who really like food and like cooking. We all go out. We enjoy food together. And among my women friends, there is never a conversation about bad foods or good foods or what food plan you're trying this month.

In fact, when I was training for marathons, sometimes the conversation was about having enough food. How are you fueling? Were you getting enough of this or enough of that? Have you ever gone out for dinner with women friends and had somebody order a dessert to go? A full dinner and then can I have a dessert to take with me? I have. It was in Eugene, Oregon it was the night before she ran a marathon and I was so there for that.

My friends and I, we like food. We enjoy food. It doesn't haunt us. It doesn't taunt us. We're at peace with it.

But every once in a while I get hit in the face with the diet mentality stuff. I'll have a weird experience. So, I'll have lunch with somebody that I don't know very well. And almost always, this is somebody who knows about my work, or is related to me in my work life somehow. And we'll go to order, and I'll be completely oblivious, and then all of a sudden it will feel strange.

An example would be, I remember one time when we were looking at the menu, and the other woman made a bunch of comments about how she didn't know what to eat. And she was Worried about what to order because I was going to judge her. And she knew I was going to just order a salad with the dressing on the side. And what she really wanted was the sandwich. But she knew I would never have the sandwich and I probably didn't eat sandwiches.

And the truth is. I don't love a lot of sandwiches. I'm not a sandwich person. But not because they're bad food or anything, and I actually was going to order the salad, but it was because the dressing sounded really good, and it had avocado in it, which I love, and I definitely wasn't going to have the dressing on the side. But it was weird. And it was probably stressful for both of us.

And it was a reminder of all the garbage we can have in our heads. Not just about what we eat and what we should eat and what we want to eat and what we don't want to eat. But also the thoughts and the beliefs that we can generate about what other people are thinking about our eating. And how we're eating and the choices that we're making.

Freedom from overeating and peace with food are phrases that I use a lot. And I use them very deliberately. Because freedom from overeating and peace with food are really exactly what they sound like, freeing and peaceful. When you take the complicated puzzle that is food and eating and you put those pieces into place in your life in the way that fits. It feels calm and it feels relaxing.

I mean, your life does not turn into a field of daisies with unicorns skipping through it and rainbows in the background. But, when you put the pieces into place, food and what to order and thoughts about what other people think and good and bad judgments, they just aren't there in the same way.

And when I have these experiences of seeing them there, when I'm surprised by them, when I don't see them coming, I am really reminded of how stressful these things are. It feels exhausting and it feels really sad to me.

Recently, I was a guest in an online group that included a lot of wellness professionals and weight loss professionals. And was focused around the topic of weight loss. Somebody in the group, a member of the group, posted something like, I really need support. That's how it started. I really need support. I've gained eight pounds since the holidays.

And the first replies to this post were from other members of the community. They were supportive. They were, me too. I hear you. You're telling my story. Right? And then the experts started piling on. With posts like, have you looked at your food balance? Have you looked at your hormones? What are you eating? Are you getting enough fiber? How much protein are you eating? I bet you're getting too many carbs. And also a post that said what exactly have you tried to lose weight?

You all this poor woman vulnerably posted she shared that she wanted support not a how to pylon of random untargeted advice. And Let us be clear I think it is so important, support and advice are two very different things. Her post said, I really need support.

As I stumbled on this thread and I read through it. And I didn't know any of the participants. I didn't know any of the experts. I didn't know any of the members of the group. I could feel my stress level going up. I could feel my shoulders getting tense.

Have you looked at your food balance? Have you looked at your hormones? What are you eating? Are you getting enough fiber? I bet you're not getting enough carbs. I started getting irritable just reading the post. I could feel my own reactivity. And I was not surprised at all that at the time I was reading this, which was a few days after she had originally posted, this woman who had posted asking for support had not come back.

Support and advice are two very different things. And not one of those commenters who had all this advice, actually questions with veiled advice in it, not one of them mentioned one single curious question about what this woman might already know about why and how she had gained weight. Not one of these experts asked the question.

Why am I talking about this? Because we need to recognize the toxicity and the exhausting nature of diet mentality and weight loss culture. Which doesn't mean you can't lose weight if that's something that you want to do. It is just possible and also allowed for that losing weight experience to feel a whole lot better.

If you are pursuing weight loss and you aren't using an approach similar to what I teach or the approach that I teach. Then you are quite likely marinating in these toxic messages that all have the same end game to them. And that end game is you should be doing more. You should be eliminating more. You should be working harder. What are you doing really?

And you know what is also true about that approach? It is bypassing the need for compassion and understanding and encouraging you to just bypass that need for compassion and understanding, too.

Even if any of those questions that those experts had asked in that post, even if any of those questions were the magic ticket to this woman's struggle. She didn't ask for advice. She asked for support.

In many ways, she was ahead of them. She was quite possibly asking for someone to hold space for how she was feeling. I need support. That was more of a magic ticket. That was more of a door to her creating freedom from overeating than any of those questions that followed.

She knows herself. She said, I need support. What have you done? Can you do more? Are you working hard enough? Those are almost certainly questions that this poor woman's brain has been berating her with as she's gained the weight. As she's been eating in the ways that she didn't want to. That's why she posted.

Compassion is a seriously missing ingredient in most smart, high achieving women's approaches to weight loss. And this is really important. Compassion is also, it's the secret sauce that can unstick a lot of overeating struggles.

Here's something you might not know. If you are mindless eating, if mindless eating is an issue for you, or you tend to eat on autopilot and zone out, or if you know that you do a lot of eating to numb yourself. There's a very good chance that the hidden hunger for compassion might actually be your primary hidden hunger.

And if you don't know what your hidden hungers are or what your primary hidden hunger is, I really want you to go take my free hidden hungers quiz to find that out. Because I don't know of another quick tool that is going to help you get started on fixing this. The hidden hunger for compassion is huge.

You can't create freedom from overeating without resourcing, without accessing your own compassion. And you can be working with the most talented expert in the world. But if they are not connecting with and respecting and listening to your own inner wisdom, you're also going to have an uphill battle in creating the kind of results that you want.

I have been doing this work for a very long time. I know a lot about what works and what doesn't and about what questions to ask. And I also know that there is not one route forward that works for everyone. And you hold more inner wisdom about yourself in your pinky finger than any so called expert ever will.

That's the truth. You might need help reconnecting to it. You may need help trusting yourself again. And you will most definitely need compassion and curiosity and support in growing that within yourself. And when you say you need support, you need someone who will take the time and make the effort to understand what helpful support will feel like for you.

You've been asking yourself a lot of questions. You probably don't need more questions about what you did or didn't do or what you've tried or what you could do more of. When you ask for support, you deserve support.

You deserve it. We all deserve it. We all deserve so much more than this diet mentality stew.

And that's all I want to say about this.

Thanks for listening.

I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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