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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!