Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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St. Joseph's Care Group

Eating Disorders Programs

Why not Diet?

What is the problem with dieting?

The dieting industry's main goal is to make money. Unfortunately no one tells you that one of the long term consequences of dieting is weight gain. The research indicates that 2 years after starting a diet, 95% of people gain the weight back and more. Dieting often leads to a chaotic eating pattern, at best, with people cycling between restricting and overeating. At worst, dieting can lead to a diagnosable eating disorder. Our program philosophy focuses on achieving a balanced healthy lifestyle of nourishing your body appropriately and being active. The program encourages people to reach a healthy weight that is based on one's own body type and genetic background and to not focus on an ideal body type dictated by society.

When eating chaotically or experiencing binge eating the first step in recovery is to work towards not dieting. The focus will be on lifestyle changes that promote a healthy eating pattern for life.

What is the goal of a non-diet approach to eating?

The primary goal is to overcome diet/weight conflicts. This should allow people to enjoy eating again and to end food preoccupation. By adopting a normal eating pattern you end the battle between your mind and body by effortless maintaining a comfortable set point weight. You will be able to trust your body to give you appropriate cues of what, when and how much to eat.

How do you stop dieting?

The first step to a healthy eating pattern is what we call mechanical eating. This is defined as eating 3 meals and at least 2 snacks around the same time every day. The reason for this is to stop excessive hunger and to help your body get back in touch with appropriate hunger and fullness cues. It will also help your metabolism return to a normal level. This step takes time and may start with focusing on one meal or one snack at a time.

The next step is to follow Canada's Food Guide to make sure you are eating your daily requirements of servings from all four food groups. The goal is to have meals that are well balanced and to include a variety of foods from all food groups.

The last step is to challenge any dieting thoughts, rules or myths you may have. You want to focus on nourishing your body and enjoying food again. Food should not be labeled as good and bad or healthy and unhealthy. Labeling foods sets you up to feel guilty when you eat and may results in triggering cravings for foods you are trying to avoid. By allowing yourself normal portions of all types of food you won't feel deprived and will be able to determine appropriate food choices for the appropriate reasons.

Is it O.K. to eat when I am not hungry?

There are many reasons why we choose to eat. However, some promote a positive eating pattern while others don't. Physical hunger seems like an obvious reasons to eat however, not everyone trusts their own body. Some will ignore the signs of hunger and refuse to eat because of some diet rule they have. It is especially hard for those with a dieting history who have always tried to control their hunger to learn to trust their own bodies.

Eating for nutrition is another appropriate reason to eat. This refers to eating a wide variety of foods from each of the food groups on Canada's Food Guide to ensure our bodies are getting the nutrients it needs.

Convenience is also a good reason to eat. It is O.K. to eat even if you aren't hungry if it is a time that you can actually sit down, eat something and enjoy it. In today's society everyone has very busy lifestyles therefore the time we have to actually enjoy a meal or snack is very limited. When we are given the opportunity to eat something, hungry or not, and the next time that opportunity arises is a few hours away, we should take advantage of it and eat. Another good reason to eat is simple pleasure. We need to learn to enjoy eating again and to include foods we like even if they tend to be more energy dense foods choices.

Destructive reasons to eat are because of guilt, anger, shame, loneliness, anxiety, boredom, etc. By trying to adopt a non-dieting approach to eating you can learn appropriate hunger and fullness cues and to recognize when you are making the decision to eat based on loving reasons versus self-destructive reasons.

How do I control my weight without dieting?

The goal of a non dieting approach is to help people learn to eat well and nourish their body appropriately so they can reach a healthy weight determined by their body not today's society. We encourage people to focus on all the things our bodies allow us to do not a number on the scale or a certain pant size. The goal is to celebrate our bodies in the many different shapes and sizes they come in and to treat them well.

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