These days, it seems to be more acceptable and more normal to be on a diet than not to be on a diet. But I want to tell you why you should do the exact opposite: Why you should stop dieting and stop counting calories.
But I didn't always think that way. Because I was scared: What if I stopped losing weight? What happens if I give up control, how do I know what to eat anymore?
I spent years of either meticulously counting calories or points, or I was on some sort of diet, following certain rules, to either lose weight or at least maintain my weight. I was exhausted, but I didn't know what else to do. Had someone told me that I should stop counting calories and stop dieting, I would not have listened.
Now I don't follow any diets at all and I love this approach way better than I ever liked dieting (who actually does love dieting??).
Maybe you've heard about intuitive eating and think: Sounds great in theory, but I couldn't do it. Or at least, give me some sort of intuitive eating meal plan!
But there's no such thing as intuitive eating meal plan. I know we want something external to control us, as we think our bodies can't be trusted, but we don't actually need a meal plan for it.
Here's how you can get started with eating according to your intuition: By following my 5D System to DietLess Eating.
Diet's I Have Tried and Reasons Why I Decided to Stop Dieting
I've been on quite a few diets.
The funny thing is that I didn't even call some of these diets diets simply because they didn't have the word diet in their name (like, intermittent fasting or juice detox, for example)… But now, it doesn't matter to me whether it says diet or not — if there's a nutritional approach or way of eating that comes with certain rules and restrictions, then to me, it's still a diet.
(Note — I do think that sometimes diets are necessary, to treat certain illnesses. However, this post is meant for healthy individuals whose main goal for dieting is to lose weight).
Here are some diets I've tried in the past:
- Weight Watchers — this was an insanely low fat diet which started my unhealthy relationship with food. They made it sound exciting and freeing by saying: You can stop counting calories! That was true, but that doesn't mean we didn't count anything. We counted Weight Watchers points. I lost a lot of weight. But eating extremely low fat while over exercising was probably the main reason why I lost my period.
- Calorie counting — several years later, when I got sick of counting points, I started counting calories. At one point I counted both, calories and points.
- Juice clense — I lost a lot of weight on this one during the 4 weeks I did it… But I also remember the insane bingeing episode following this juice clense. I ate myself extremely full and the next went to “run it off”. My stomach hurt so bad that I had to stop my run. The way I got home must have resembled to crawling.
- Strict Paleo — I left out entire food groups, from grains to dairy to sugar (I did eat fruit sugar). It was a very low carb diet, another red flag for someone with hormonal issues. Again, I lost a lot of weight but I was also only able to sleep with the help of sleep pills… not healthy. The good thing about this diet was that I could stop counting calories and I started incorporating much more fat into my diet than ever before.
- Intermittent fasting — I tried intermittent fasting right after I realized I cannot keep doing the strict Paleo because it was just not sustainable. I was traveling often between Estonia, Finland and the US, I ate out a lot… It just wasn't doable. So I needed something to do instead of strict Paleo, because I needed to feel in control. So I started skipping meals, particularly breakfasts. I remember counting hours and minutes until it was time to break my fast. I was hungry!
As you can tell, I have quite a bit of experience in the diet land!
What is Dietless Eating
I haven't been on any specific diet for about 3 years now, but for about two years I still had thoughts in my head: I should try this diet, or that one… and I would still occasionally try to cut out food groups or eat less calories when I thought I had stopped losing weight.
For about one year, I've now been eating in a way that is completely free from any restrictions. And I've found that to be the most reasonable, satisfying, and sustainable way of eating. I call it Dietless Eating, because that's exactly what it is — free from any diets and any other ways of restriction.
You can stop dieting, stop counting calories, stop tracking macros…
Dietless eating is very similar to intuitive eating. But as I said before, there's no such thing as intuitive eating meal plan, because a plan would leave no room for intuition. It's all about getting to know your body.
4 Reasons Why You Should Stop Dieting, Stop Counting Calories, Stop Tracking Macros, etc:
1. No One Can Ever Know What's The Best Diet For You
No one else can ever tell you what you specifically need to eat, to feel your best. How many carbs, protein and fat… You're unique, no one else is like you and therefore can't give you specific instructions.
Yes, someone can tell you that you have to get on a low fat diet, but what if doing so makes you feel like crap? It happened to me when I was on a low fat diet: My brain was insanely foggy, I felt depressed, I couldn't remember things, my hormones weren't working… obviously, it wasn't right for me. Yes, I lost fat, but my health was awful!
Many women get similar symptoms on a very low carb diet.
Your personal trainer or your favorite health podcast may tell you that you need to do intermittent fasting to lose weight. But if it makes you feel sick, it is not for you. Accept it and move past it!
2. We Were Born With Innate Wisdom of What and How to Eat
When we were newborns, we knew exactly how much we needed to eat to be full, and once we were full, we stopped eating. No one was standing there telling us to stop eating because we were approaching our daily calorie limit, or forcing us to eat more to hit our daily protein amount.
Then we got bigger and had more food options. We still ate what we wanted, ate as much as we wanted, and then walked away from food.
Then all this got messed up when we realized that we can manipulate our bodies to look different if we want to! And we started dieting.
Getting back to normal eating — in the way we used to do it when we were little — allows us to stop dieting. But how do we know how much to eat then? Our inner wisdom is still there! We have to forget about all the food rules we've ever learned, to re-discover this inner wisdom and start trusting ourselves again.
3. Diets Don't Work (which is why you stopped losing weight or even gained it back!)
It's been shown that about 5% of people can keep the lost weight off in the long term. The rest of us gain it back, for one reason or the other.
Some people say that X diet worked, because it made them cause weight. But then they stopped losing weight, and eventually gained it back.
The weight comes back on and that's expected, when you look at what most diets look like. Most of them are far too restrictive and our bodies are not supposed to handle them. They're often impossible to maintain without bingeing or ruining our health in other ways.
Losing weight alone is not what makes a diet successful. If it makes you feel horrible, it doesn't matter that you lost weight.
It all comes down to knowing yourself again: Eat in the way that makes you feel good, not according to what X, Y, Z diet guru says.
4. You Will Find Your Healthy Weight
Once you stop dieting, you can really find your healthy weight. When you stop counting calories, your mind will find so much better place.
You may think that I'm crazy for saying that, but that's really true. But remember that your goal weight and your natural weight may be two very different things.
If staying at your current weight takes you enormous amount of exercise, calorie counting, tracking and dieting, plus you may have some health issues, it's not right for you. Loss of period, insomnia, feeling cold, intense cravings, slow metabolism and constipation are some signs that may tell you that your current weight isn't right for you, and it does not matter that you're “healthy weight” on the BMI chart.
When you stop dieting and restricting your calories and start eating how you really like and in amounts that satisfy you, your body will find its natural weight. To be able to find that, you really listen to your body! Only then you can hear what and how much you should eat to feel satisfied and full, and never starve yourself or over eat again.
5D DietLess Eating System Helps You Get Started
If you'd like to get started with DietLess Eating, I have a resource for you: 5D System for DietLess Eating. It's not an intuitive eating meal plan, it's your guide to understanding your body and eating according to its needs.
It's short, easy to read and easy to remember manual and and you can start practicing these tips already today.
Get your 5D DietLess Eating System here!