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7 Diet Rules That We Should Ditch ASAP
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June 23, 2021

Hey guys!

One of the hardest things for me on my 90 Day Journey was letting go of “diet rules.” They literally RULED my life for years. They were in the back of my mind constantly.

“Should I be eating this?”

“Omg I didn’t measure my portion.”

“I want a snack but maybe I should just drink some water.”

“It’s too late to eat. I’ll just go to bed.”

If I was around food or thinking about food, I was contemplating “the rules.” So many of them seem like innocent little tips! But when I decided that I needed a change, I realized that these rules weren’t really innocent at all. I was addicted to them and felt like I was failing if I didn’t live by them.

To make things worse, these diet rules ruined my relationship with food. It was almost impossible for me to listen to my body because I constantly ignored it – because of the rules.

Since I’ve taken some time to relearn my body and UNlearn the “rules,” I’ve become hyper-aware of how many of them are still shoved in our faces 24/7.

As I’m scrolling most days, I’ll see posts with motivational quotes and diet tips that are presented to inspire and push you to “commit” or “work hard” to lose weight. But really, they’re the same rules that diet culture has been pushing for years and years and years. The same ones that seemed innocent when I jumped on the wagon, and eventually spiraled into… well, an eating disorder.

So, let’s talk about these diet rules and why they need to just stop.

Let’s get into why you should stop living your life with your hands tied because you’re scared of “getting fat” or “getting off track” if you don’t abide by them. Plus, how these rules are doing more harm than good.

loaf of bread on yellow background cut carbs diet rules

1. Cutting out carbs (or any food group)

This is one of the most frustrating diet rules.

Unless you have a food allergy or sensitivity or some other health reason to avoid certain food groups, you don’t need to cut out ANY food group. Yes, even carbs (see the post I wrote about why carbs aren’t the enemy for more on that).

There’s no single nutrient or food group that interferes with weight loss on its own. Carbs don’t make you fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Gluten doesn’t make you fat. Whatever the next trendy thing to cut out of our diet is…doesn’t make you fat.

Too much of ANY food that leads to eating excess calories? That will cause weight gain.

Also – cutting out food groups can mean you miss out on certain nutrients. For example – if you cut out fruit because you’re afraid of sugar (please don’t), you could miss out on fiber, vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants.

Clock on plate diet rules

2. Not eating at night

I covered this in a Dear Cassey post, but noooo eating at night doesn’t automatically sabotage your diet goals. If you’re constantly hungry at night, it’s probably because you’re not eating enough throughout the day. Or, you could be stressed or tired.

It’s the habits associated with eating at night (eating mindlessly, overdoing it on snacks, etc.) that actually cause weight gain. Not a magical time when your body gains weight no matter what you eat.

phone calculator for counting calories diet rules

3. Choosing a super low calorie goal

We are not here to starve ourselves.

I REPEAT. We are NOT here to starve ourselves.

We’re here to get stronger and healthier. And that means we need to fuel. I know how the “willpower” and “control” of meeting a huge calorie deficit feels satisfying. I’ve been there! I used to feel proud when I’d successfully stick to a super low calorie intake, no matter how UNsatisfied my body actually felt. I thought suffering and feeling hungry was part of it. If I could push through, I was strong.

BIG NOPE.

If you’re hungry, you need to eat.

But most importantly, always ALWAYS figure out how much energy your body needs before you go on any fitness journey – whether you’re gaining, losing, or maintaining your weight. There are tons of calculators online to help you find a good place to start, or you can consult with a pro like your doctor or a registered dietitian. Just don’t randomly pick a calorie level that sounds good or promises to help you lose weight super fast.

Rapid weight loss isn’t sustainable weight loss. And you probably need MORE calories than you think. Of all of these diet rules, this was one of the hardest for me to ditch.

4. Obsessively counting calories and/or macros

I used to get soooo stressed if I didn’t count my calories. Every single crumb was calculated to make sure it “fit” my day. But let me tell you something. Letting go of this diet rule was the best thing EVER.

It’s great to have an idea of your calorie and macro goals, but obsessively counting everything you eat just isn’t healthy. Now, I don’t get stressed about the numbers as long as I know I’m eating healthy, nourishing foods, and focusing on balance.

5. Making every workout super intense

Another one I used to be guilty of. If I wasn’t jello after my workouts, I’d do another workout later. I just felt like I had to push my hardest every single time or it didn’t really count. I wanted to burn the most calories possible. Which sounds great and all, but for me, it quickly turned into an obsession.

And working hard IS great. But you don’t have to be dripping sweat with a heart rate through the roof every single time you workout. If you try to go that route, you’re at risk for overtraining. Pushing yourself to the limit every day will make you feel burnt out and will actually slow your progress.

6. Avoiding dessert

Let’s ditch this rule immediately because dessert is AMAZING. You can absolutely lose weight or maintain your weight while enjoying dessert.

If you feel out of control around sweets, cutting it out of your life isn’t the answer! Demonizing certain foods is what creates the “out of control” feeling around them in the first place. This diet rule gives you an “all or nothing” mindset, which is extremely difficult to maintain.

7. Tricking your body when you’re hungry

Stop drinking a glass of water, chewing gum, taking a shower, working out, or doing any of the “tricks” out there that are supposed to help you avoid eating when you’re hungry. Trust me. It’s sooo worth putting your energy into eating mindfully instead. If you feel hungry, honor that.

Diet rules won’t get you where you want to be

There’s no one “right way” to eat that works for everyone. So let’s ditch the rules that are holding us back and get on our way to building our healthiest self!

Which of these diet rules is the hardest for you to shake? Tell me in the comments! 

20 thoughts on “7 Diet Rules That We Should Ditch ASAP”

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  1. Sofia Naranjo says:

    Cassey, thanks so much for the advice! I have found that following those tips or rather not sticking to those rules is healthier and makes me happier. I have felt inclined to follow those rules and some of them I have, but because of advice like this, I have never obsessed over them insanely. I would also like to share with readers and with you some new knowledge I gained from an aunt who works in the health, fitness, and wellbeing field. It comes from ‘primal blueprint’ lifestyle. I really liked reading his 21 day transformation book, which my aunt showed me, because the author gives similar advice to yours, but with extensive research, reasoning, and guidance! So if anyone is curious to learn more about the science, physiology, and explanations behind the advice do search up “primal blueprint”. My aunt’s workplace helps people regain and maintain fitness exclusively with these teachings and programs, and although she doesn’t always follow it 100% herself, she has seen its benefits on clients 🙂 Anyway do read for yourself I think you’d like and gain a lot from it!

  2. Michele says:

    Cassey, Thank you for your great and timely words of wisdom! I needed that!

  3. Sarah says:

    If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re going to be hungry sometimes. Your in a calaric deficit, it happens. You shouldn’t be starving, but some hunger is normal. A lot of people also confused cravings with hunger, and it can be a good idea to drink a tea or otherwise distract yourself in those cases.

  4. Stefani says:

    I wish more people read and heeded this advice, Cassie. My mother has pretty much been on a diet since her teens, and this obsessive behavior has all but wrecked her metabolism. I’m in a Facebook group where recently people have been asking for advice on how to push themselves to work out when they’re ill or even running a temperature. That’s nuts! One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over time is to listen to what my body needs.

    1. blogilates says:

      WOW that’s craaaaazy! I def do not wanna workout when I’m sick!!!

  5. Katheryn says:

    Ditching Dessert is a hard rule. I like a small dessert after my good dinner, good meaning balanced. So, I switched out. Instead of a heavy caloric dessert, like a slice of cake with icing, I have a paleta style popsicle. Real fruit, cane sugar, less than 100 calories. It’s very satisfying and I don’t have to feel deprived of fruit. Also, I’ve ditched soda in favor of fruit flavored sparkling water, so sugar, no salt, no calories, and actually much more satifying.

  6. Alex Brookstein says:

    I totally struggle with being hungry.
    Especially specific times through the month if you know what I mean. I actually been really struggling with this actually and everything here makes sense but it’s so hard bc for me I’m on the smaller side so I don’t burn a lot of calories in general. I’m at like maybe 1800 calories burn a day and that’s with working out and trying to be active and get steps. So I count calories and I notice when I go a bit nuts I’ll start gaining bc yeah I’m eating in excess and it’s obviously not the best foods…god what a struggle.

  7. Célia says:

    I’m a little like Maida, I currently count my calories and was inspired to start by your video on your 90-day journey (!), because I felt like I wasn’t able to loose the fat I gained during my second, and last, pregnancy. Counting calories helped me a lot, and I’m still counting my calories because I’m almost at my goal weight, but I would like to apprehend how many calories keep me at the same weight, approximately, and also I want to make sure I have enough protein (I watch my macros), since I don’t eat meat on the regular (I have a flexitarian diet). I currently still breastfeed a little my 2-years-old, and I want to make sure I don’t overeat once he’s weaned. So counting calories can be good as long as it’s not an obsession! At first I really counted everything, but now I feel I can start to evaluate on my own and using a calorie counter helped me!

  8. Holly says:

    Lol. I have done most of these at least once in my lifetime. I find that it mostly made me depressed and served no purpose as it didn’t efficiently help me reach my goals. Carbs aren’t the enemy, they they can support energy levels. Protein isn’t God; it can be overdone, like anything else. Moderation is the key with any food. Thanks Cassey.

    1. blogilates says:

      We have ALL been there! Fitness and food are an ever-evolving journey…

  9. Sam says:

    Not allowing dessert and counting calories were my biggest downfalls. I also wanted to say I so appreciate that as you learn you share that knowledge with everyone who follows you. It’s so important for women to see someone they look up to talking about what they believe but also owning up to if those beliefs have changed. Thank you ❤️❤️❤️

  10. Jay says:

    Avoiding dessert is my pain when dieting but after the hotgirl challenge I now have other options during the week and leave a weekend day to taste what I like to do, desserts! I must say though that even if I am giving permission myself for that weekend dessert I am still (became) mindful about that whatever I do to please my family and is still lighter ( e.g fluffy tres leches cake!) than I used to do.

  11. Bola says:

    These are so true!

  12. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for this Cassey!! The diet industry has ruined the lives of so many women, causing us to slip into eating disorders and punish our bodies for just wanting fuel! These rules are constantly shoved into our faces and are just not healthy or sustainable.

  13. Saule Draksaite says:

    This 👏 needs 👏to be 👏 said 👏 more! As a lifelong ED sufferer I’ve got these mental hurdles and any of those things can get me to sink into those old patterns and these “rules” are kinda insane and evil and the general public will defend them not understand what they can do to someone like me. As a society we should focus a lot less on sizes and fat and instead focus on being happy and valuing smiles and laughter and energy. As long as u can climb those mountains and bring those groceries in 1 run, it doesn’t matter what u eat when u are nourishing yourself and you make it into energy. The more i try to think on weight and diet in my life, i always turn out bad in the end, stressed, sad and ultimately miserable while a smaller size. My happiest moment was when i ate cheeseburgers for energy and climbed a huge mountain. ❤️

  14. Kellie Anderson says:

    I recently went from a keto diet to trying to stay around 100 grams of carbs per day. This has been tricky because I’m so used to avoided carbs, and now I’m allowing them, but trying not to go crazy with them. I find this almost more difficult because it requires balance, but I feel this is much more sustainable for the long run because it allows for things like bread, desserts and fruit, which I love. Beautiful pic of you by the way!

  15. Maida says:

    I laugh because I COUNT my calories and macros, but I don’t really do anything about it to hit targets. I want to make sure I get enough protein, and otherwise I just see where I’m at and move on. Whether I eat “too much” or “too little,” it changes every day based on my hunger, and I figure it balances out in the long run.

  16. Monica Leon says:

    All of them 😂😂

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