Why dieting is not a good form of Self-Care


Guest Post by Natalie Thompson, a non-dieting Accredited Practising Dietitian

In today’s society, weight loss dieting is perceived as the solution or the very thing that we all need to do to lose weight, care for ourselves, improve health and even our happiness. How wrong society is!

Dieting is restricting, depriving, using willpower or controlling food intake and exercise as a means to change your body shape, size or weight. 

Dieting is anything that takes you away from your innate ability to trust yourself and makes you feel unworthy or inadequate in your body. Some examples of dieting include meal plans, calorie counting, weighing/measuring yourself and taking diet products or supplements.

The negative impacts of dieting

  • Dieting is ineffective at producing long-term weight loss results.
  • It can be very harmful to physical and mental health.
  • Dieting actually leads to weight gain in the majority of cases, as it disrupts normal metabolism and hormone production.
  • Dieting also has negative effects on mental health and is a significant risk factor for developing anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
  • Bone mass declines.
  • Risk increases of nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition.

It is all too common for people to become preoccupied with food and their bodies, leaving them feeling even more inadequate compared to how they felt prior to commencing the diet. Typically, food and nutrients such as sugar and fat, become the focus of fears.

Self-esteem declines as people second guess their decisions and behaviours as they wonder why they ‘failed’ at yet another diet, which fuels a vicious cycle of repeated weight loss attempts.

Why Non-Dieting is the Best Form of Self-Care

But don’t worry, there is an alternative way to care for yourself and it is called the non-diet approach to nutrition. The non-diet approach supports you in improving your relationship with food and body. As your preoccupation with food and your body diminishes you will have time and energy to focus on the things you truly find important. Other benefits of non-dieting are:

1) You will find the joy in eating as you make peace with food and your body.

No more fearing food! Instead,  you’ll be able to manage your emotions without just using food. This allows you to feel free from food and start living your life now. (Instead of waiting until you achieve your ‘goal weight’).

2) You’ll stop comparing yourself and your dietary intake with other people.

Nutrition is not a one size fits all approach. Even though dieting seems simpler because it promises this. But, it leaves you in a more complicated situation with your health and relationship with your food and body. Food, nutrition and your life become simpler as you realise that you are more resourceful than you give yourself credit for.  Trusting yourself is a significant part of what you need to do to care for yourself.

3) You will learn how to reconnect with your internal body cues or appetite AND the world.

Listening and responding to your body appropriately, are basic and important forms of self-care. With regards to nutrition, intuitive eating is the way humans are naturally meant to meet their nutritional needs for nourishment and pleasure.

The non-diet approach also supports you in developing a sense of curiosity, self-compassion and resilience, which are important skills for maintaining your self-care practises.

Related: Why you totally have time for self care

Take Home Message

Non-dieting helps people to see that they often do not have a nutrition issue, rather a self-care issue. Weight loss dieting is clearly an unhelpful self-care strategy. It distracts you from truly caring for yourself as you use food as a cover for your issues.

For support around improving your self-care from a non-dieting nutritional point of view, download the free guide ‘How to Stay Focused to Never Diet Again’ via http://eepurl.com/bOpNyv. This guide is for you if you are just starting out on your non-dieting journey or if you have been non-dieting for some time but struggle to ‘stay on track’.

Welcome to the non-dieting world, a place where balance/moderation is the key to nutrition and life!


Our Confident Life Contributor

Natalie Thompson is a non-dieting Accredited Practising Dietitian. She is passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviours to help improve health whilst nurturing relationships with food and body.

Natalie enjoys helping women, particularly mums who struggle with nutrition and body image. Women who worry about the impact they have on their children discover the joy in eating and make peace with food and their beautiful body whilst being the role model they imagine for their children, focusing on compassionately nourishing the mind, body and spirit of themselves and their children.

Connect with Natalie via her blog https://delectabledietetics.wordpress.com, in the Nutrition Empowered Mums Facebook group and on social media.

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  1. Pingback: Why Dieting is Not a Good Form of Self-Care | DELECTABLE DIETETICS

  2. wordsbykatie

    This is such an important post! I’ve just finished a 3 year nutrition degree and it’s just reconfirmed this even moreso. It’s so wonderful to be able to read it, written properly and eloquently. Thankyou for this 🙂

    Katie // wordsbykatie.com

  3. Pingback: What To Do If You Have Been Fat Shamed | DELECTABLE DIETETICS

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