The Fallacy of the Anti-Diet

Dieting has been popular for a long time and through the years, we’ve seen some pretty bizarre fads come and go. The Apple Diet, the Baby Food Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet…you name it! In a complete twist of irony, the newest one out there is the anti-diet. 

Unlike the traditional diets of yore, this one actually has merit. The anti-diet isn’t a franchise, a detox, a strict regimen, or a meal plan that you have to purchase. Rather, it’s a movement and a state of mind. The purpose of which is to help you see past thinness as the ideal and the ultimate goal. It emphasizes maintaining healthier habits and making peace with food and body image. 

The problem comes in when traditional diets and weight-loss programs start rebranding themselves as anti-diets when they really aren’t. 

When this happens, how do you know when you’re looking at a traditional diet wolf in anti-diet sheep’s clothing? Well, there are certain characteristics you can look out for:

  • They’re not long-term.
  • You have to overhaul your lifestyle overnight in order to follow them correctly.
  • They offer one solution for everyone.
  • You must strictly control what you eat and sometimes when you eat.
  • Weight loss is the main goal. 
  • You must track your food and exercise in order to reach your goal.

These diets usually also contain “Before” and “After” pictures in their ads and promise that they’ll help you “shed the pounds” in no time. Anyone who is promoting anti-dieting will be focusing less on how someone looks and more on the “invisible” changes, like how they’ve incorporated healthier foods into their lifestyle or found joy in movement and exercise.

Diets also promote quick-fix solutions that don’t carry over to actual lifestyle change. 

So, now you know how to spot a traditional diet masquerading as an anti-diet, but how do you know when something that’s promoting anti-dieting is legit? 

You’ll first want to see how they treat a typical relationship with food. Our relationship with food is as unique as our fingerprints. It’s not only about what you eat, it’s also about the way you eat, how you grew up eating, and how certain foods affect the way you feel physically and emotionally. 

Mindfulness is one way we can start developing eating habits that are going to benefit us in the short and long term. Rather than focusing on the types of foods you can or can’t eat, mindful eating imposes no restrictions. It asks you to think about your food and to consider what makes it delicious, how it makes you feel, how it got to your plate, and more. Using mindfulness in your eating habits can help you develop a healthier relationship with food because it teaches you how to…

  • Pay attention to your levels of physical hunger
  • Address emotional hunger in a healthy, effective way
  • Appreciate the ways healthy food is indulgent (that’s right, not just delicious–indulgent)
  • Separate feelings of guilt or virtue from food

Long story short, wanting to lose weight isn’t a bad thing. What isn’t great is when diets promoting weight loss say that they’re anti-diet when the language and methods they use promote ways of thinking that damage our relationship with food and our body. Instead, we can pay attention to the healthy foods that we love and exercise in ways that feel good.

Curious about what life without dieting looks like? Learn more here.