Done with Dieting Episode #60: Diet vs Just the Way I Eat

Diet vs Just the Way I Eat

What is the difference between a Diet with a Big D vs a Diet with a Small D?

What is the difference between a DIET – a way of eating that we follow from a book – and the idea that ‘this is just the way that I eat?’

If you pay attention to social media, you’ll learn pretty quickly that diet is a four-letter word. That we should not be dieting, and that weight loss is bad.

But is it?

Are all diets bad? The vegetarian way of eating can be considered just the way someone eats, while someone else may look at it as a diet. How can we tell the difference between a good diet and a bad diet? Or is there such a thing?

Listen in to episode 60 to learn how to know if what you’re doing is subscribing to looking at food in an unhealthy way, or if you’re just eating & hipsters have now put a name on what you’re doing.

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What you’ll Learn from this Episode

  • What’s the difference between a Diet and a diet
  • Are all diets bad?
  • Is it possible for a diet to become a lifestyle?

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Hey! Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between a diet and the way that I eat. Today, on the done with dieting podcast, we’re exploring the difference between what is a diet with a big D and what’s a diet with a small D. Diets with a small D being the way that I just normally eat.

Join us today, as we explore this topic a little bit further.

You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women in midlife, who are done with dieting, but still want to lose weight and feel good in your clothes. You know that diets don’t work long term. But you feel like there’s this secret that everyone else knows that you just haven’t figured it out yet.

I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And I’ve helped hundreds of women get off the diet roller coaster change their relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies. Through this podcast, my goal is to help you too.

Welcome. Let’s get started.

Hello, hello, everyone, welcome to our podcast today. This is podcast number 60. And I haven’t actually celebrated the fact that my podcast is over a year old. And that’s actually really exciting and this is going to tie into today’s episode. Because when I started this podcast, I had so much fear and anxiety around my views.

I was so afraid that the people who think that dieting is bad, were going to come after me and tell me that the way that I was thinking about food was wrong. Because there’s always someone out there who’s going to tell us that they disagree with us and it’s inevitable. And it’s totally fine that that happens when it does.

But what’s really been amazing in this entire process is just the amount of people who have reached out to me saying that this podcast has really been helpful to them. And that the information that I’m sharing has been just an incredible amount of value for them and is actually helping them to become, it’s helping you to become healthier.

And I am all in for that. And that’s why I do this podcast is so that I can share the amount of information that I have with as many people as I can, so that I can really work myself out of a job. Wouldn’t that just be amazing if I could do that?

I’m actually going to ask a favor of you. I’m going to ask that if you do enjoy this podcast, if you listened to it and you enjoy it. I would love it if you would write a review and give it some stars. Because then, what that does is it helps other women who are just like you find this podcast, and find it, and listen to it so that I can help them as well.

So, you’re not doing this for me, you’re actually doing it for other women who feel stuck. Who need this information, who want this information so bad. Because they’re doing the eat less move more thing, and it’s not working for them. Or they’re doing Jenny Craig, or weight Watchers, or some other diet that we know just isn’t working for them.

So, I would love it. They would love it. If you would write a review and help them, find the podcast because we’re all about sharing. And if you have someone who would enjoy the podcast, I would totally be down with you sharing it with them as well.

So, what we’re talking about today is we’re talking about the difference between dieting or diets and the way that I eat. That’s kind of a weird topic, isn’t it? But when I was starting this podcast out, I was talking about different diets and some of the different diets that I was talking about were vegetarian diets or intermittent fasting.

And in the back of my head, as I was talking about these, I think that it’s really important one, not to have judgment on really anything. Or I should say, not that we don’t want to have judgment, but being aware of our judgments on specific topics.

When we say dieting is bad, why is dieting bad? Why is it? Many diets now say that they are a lifestyle, you’ll also hear that with gyms. And then, you hear the people who respond to that, I don’t know if you do, but in my world, I do. The people who respond to that by saying, oh, they’re just doing the same diet thing. They’re just doing it under the guise of being a lifestyle habit.

I really started thinking about it like, what is the difference between me being a vegetarian, and me doing a diet that is a vegetarian diet. What is the difference between me doing intermittent fasting versus me just eating two meals a day or one meal a day. What’s the difference there?

And I really started thinking about. First of all, let’s back up and talk about diets for a second. So, we have tons of different statistics. We have statistics that say people who lose weight on a diet are more likely to gain it back within three to five years. In fact, the results are staggering there that when we lose weight, following a diet that the success rate is only 3%.

So, of those people who actually get to their goal weight after five years, only 3% of those people who have done a diet gotten to their goal weight will still be at that same weight or less in three to five years. 97% of us after losing weight by following a diet will regain the weight.

You know, I’ve done a couple different podcasts about maintaining success for one, why is it that when we do lose weight that we regain it. And one of the ideas that I proposed there was the idea that when we’re not mentally prepared to shift our identity away from that of a dieter because so many of us have grown up and lived on diets.

And that’s all we think about, we think about losing weight and we’ve been thinking about losing weight since we were in our teens and we’re currently in our fifties. So, most of our adult life, in fact, for most of us, our entire adult life, we’ve just been thinking about losing weight, and getting rid of the pounds, and having this weird relationship with our body.

When we can finally get to a place where we’re out of that, so many of us don’t know how to be anymore. We don’t know how to interact with our food. We don’t know how to interact with our body. It creates this really weird dynamic around food. Right?

And one of the reasons that we have this weird dynamic around food and our body is because of all of the diets and other diet mentors that we’ve had over the course of our life. We have gone on diets that have said, okay, so on this diet, you’re not supposed to eat this food. Therefore, we immediately see that food as bad.

Even if the food really isn’t bad like, there was a period of time when we thought that avocados were bad, or eggs were bad, or shrimp were bad because of information that we heard about this food, eggs are high in cholesterol and cholesterol is bad, right? So therefore, eggs are bad. And that’s not necessarily true.

And in fact, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for any period of time, hopefully you know at this point that I believe that all foods fit into a healthy diet. Now, what’s really interesting about that is that we all have different tastes, so, some of you may really love Greek inspired foods and others of you may really enjoy Asian inspired foods.

I think that that’s actually really important to take into account what flavors and what foods we enjoy. And you know, just as a sidebar here. This is one huge reason why I’ve never been a fan of creating meal plans for people because I can’t create a meal plan for you. Right. I don’t know what foods you really like.

When you tell me I like these different foods and if those foods aren’t foods that I enjoy, then how am I supposed to tell you exactly what to eat or what goes together, so that you are happy, so that you are enjoying what it is you’re eating because that is so incredibly important.

Anyway, one of the reasons that we have this weird relationship with food is because all of the diets that we’ve been on over the years that have told us that this is bad or that is bad. We don’t really think for ourselves, we take the advice of the guru who wrote the book or who is getting the results.

And we say, well, they must know what they’re talking about because everyone’s following them and getting results. So therefore, they must know what they’re talking about. And therefore, what do I know? Right. I’m just a regular old person who just likes eating cookies.

Of course, we turn to the experts to tell us to some degree what foods we should be eating or what foods that we shouldn’t be eating. But when you really think about food and food in its non-processed form, food that’s in its whole form. You know, aren’t those foods just really good for us? And shouldn’t we be eating foods that are closer to nature than foods that have been touched by a factory?

My biggest advice that I can give anyone today is pay attention to what foods you enjoy, eating. Pay attention to what flavors you enjoy and eat that. And if you are doing that, then you’re doing it right. Okay?

So that being said, people say the dieting is bad. People say that diets don’t work. But the truth is that we all have a diet. And what I like to do is I like to separate out diets from being two different words. I like to talk about diets with a big D and I like to talk about diets with a small D.

Diets with a big D are what we’re talking about when we say that diets are bad, diets with a big D are diets that are externally prescribed to us. Diets with a big D are diets that we read about in books or that someone tells us that this is exactly how you should be eating. These are the guidelines. These are the foods that you should be eating. These are the foods that you should be staying away from.

But all of us have a diet. And when we talk about all of us having a diet, what we’re talking about are the foods that make up what I eat on a daily basis. That’s what I’m referring to when I talk about diets with a small D.

What we’re talking about today is really what is the difference between diets with a big D and diets with a small D because someone can be on a vegetarian diet. And they can be doing it for the reason of wanting to lose weight. Because I know that when I was starting my journey that I had heard and seen all of the people who were vegetarian, who were very slim, wanting to be like them. So, of course I copy them. I do what they do.

And when I use the vegetarian diet as a means to lose weight, then the diet becomes a diet with a big D. But for someone who just naturally tends towards the vegetarian type of diet, that diet is a diet with a small D. Meaning, it’s just the way that they eat. Right?

How can we say that all diets are bad? how do we know when a way of eating becomes a diet with a big D versus a diet with a small D? It’s an interesting question. And the same thing is true with intermittent fasting.

So, there are people who go out and they read all about intermittent fasting. They joined Facebook groups about intermittent fasting and they learn all about it so that they can lose weight. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t eat breakfast, they just eat lunch and dinner and that’s it.

Are those people intermittently fasting? Technically, I guess you could say that they are. But they’re not really thinking about it in that way.

When we’re talking about the difference between a diet and this is just the way that I eat, I think that the difference in those two different things are the mindset that we approach our food. Right? When we think about following a diet, what we’re talking about is rules that I haven’t created.

These are rules that someone else has made up that for whatever reason they’ve written down and prescribed to me. Right? And the way that I eat is based on how I feel, or the foods that are near me, or how I like to eat, how I’m used to eating, or basically what we’re talking about here is a quote unquote lifestyle.

I think that the underlying issue here, the underlying feeling that we get between a diet with a big D and a diet with a small D, has everything to do with intention. It has everything to do with how we think about the food that we’re eating. Are we eating the food that we’re eating because we’re supposed to or because we like it? And don’t get me wrong here.

When we think about the food that we’re eating and so many of my clients will say, well, Elizabeth, if I only eat the food that I like, then I’ll just eat fried chicken and ice cream every day. And okay, you might do that for a little bit. But after a period of time, you’re not going to feel good anymore.

And when we start to eat for how we feel. When we start to choose foods based on how they’re going to make me feel tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, not how they’re going to make me feel in the moment. So, we’re not paying attention to the instant gratification part of our brain but we’re really thinking about our higher self and who we want to be in the future.

When we are thinking about ourselves and taking care of ourselves from our higher self-perspective, then we’re going to choose foods that are good for us. And occasionally, we’re going to choose ice cream and fried chicken as well. But maybe not in the same day.

But we make decisions about our food from a very intentional point of view. Right? We’re not making decisions about what we’re going to eat from the instant gratification monster point of view. Again, the underlying motivation here when we’re talking about what foods we choose to include in our diet has everything to do with our intention around those foods.

Now with diets, we’re doing it to get a specific result. Whether that result is weight loss, or there are also other diets out there, right? There are diets for lower blood sugar. There’s the dash diet, which is all about heart health or if you’re creating a diet and eliminating certain foods for lower blood tests.

And here’s what’s really interesting is that all of these ways that I’m talking about right now are different diets. And yet, what’s so interesting is that there’s judgment. There’s different layers of; well, it’s okay to eliminate certain foods based on your blood test numbers, but it’s not okay to do that to lose weight, right?

This is what the people who don’t believe that we should be dieting are saying to us. They’re saying that we shouldn’t be dieting because losing weight is bad. Right? And that there’s no reason that someone should want to lose weight.

But I want to suggest that a diet with a big D can ultimately become a gateway or a path to a lifestyle way of eating. We may decide that we’re going to try being a vegetarian for a period of time because we want to lose weight. But we may decide somewhere along the line that we actually enjoy those types of foods.

And we found that it’s easier to prepare food or go out to dinner or whatever it is. We want to keep that, or we may find that we started out doing some intermittent fasting. But after a while, you know what? I really didn’t miss eating breakfast foods. This is exactly what happened with me is that I started out trying intermittent fasting, potentially to see if I could lose some weight with it.

And what was really interesting about that whole process was that before I started intermittent fasting, I loved breakfast food. I still do. But I had breakfast every single day. When I thought about eliminating breakfast food from my diet completely, it caused a lot of stress and anxiety. I was really tied to that. I really loved my morning eggs.

When I got rid of those foods, when I got rid of that meal, it was almost as if life got easier for me because I didn’t have to buy food for breakfast anymore. I didn’t have to worry about stocking it. I didn’t have to worry about taking the time out of my day to prepare the food, to eat it, and then to clean up.

For me, intermittent fasting and eliminating that first meal out of my day, actually became so much easier. And now, maybe I started that as a quote unquote diet, but now it’s just become the way that I eat. And I really don’t love talking about the way that I eat on my podcast because I don’t want you to take what I say as the way that you should be eating.

And it’s one of the ways that I help my clients with is figuring out what foods you work well on. So, what foods to include in your diet that make you feel good, that make you have energy, that make you feel like you’re productive, and you have clear thinking while at the same time, don’t interfere with your life very much. And that are good for you.

I don’t want you to take the way that I eat as the way that you should be eating because the foods that you eat and the number of meals that you should be having on a daily basis might be different than mine. All of our bodies are completely different in the way that they enjoy being fed, and enjoy being exercised, and the number of hours of sleep that we need. And so of course, we need to figure that out for ourselves.

And so again, I’m a little reluctant to talk about my own way of eating but be aware that for me, I do-do some intermittent fasting and I’ve just found that it’s made my life so much easier because now I don’t have to plan for that one meal of the day.

And what I wanted to share with you also is that the other day on social media, I posted a meme. And after I posted it, I actually started thinking about it a little bit. So, the meme is that eating better got easier when quote, I can’t have that end quote turned into I don’t want that.

And I really started thinking about it. And be aware that we can’t just go from; I can’t have that, which is a very diet mentality. Right? It’s a very diet perspective of I can’t eat that because it’s somehow off limits. And I think that when we see a meme like that, that says, eating got better when I can’t have that turned into, I don’t want that.

We all want the “I don’t want that.” Especially, when it comes to hyper palatable foods, right? We love and crave cake, cookies, cheese, all of those things that tend to not be on diets. Cakes, and pizza, burgers, French fries, and fried chicken as well. All of those things are very tasty and they’re hyper palatable. And we don’t want to crave those things.

And I think that the path that we take going from “I want that” to “I don’t want that” is actually a series of steps. We don’t just go from I want that; I can’t have that to I don’t want that. And I think that it’s really important when we look at a meme like that or look at that phrase of, I don’t want that when it comes to foods that we crave, that we can’t just tell ourselves, I don’t want that.

And if you want more information about this concept, I’m going to invite you to take a look at the episode titled “Affirmations are BS.” Because in there, I talk about something called ladder thoughts and bridging phrases.

What I want to do right now, just as a little steppingstone is teach you how the thoughts might go from, I can’t have that to I don’t want that. Because when we want something and then we think that we can cover it up with, well, I don’t want that. So, let’s say that there’s a piece of cake in front of me. And I want it, but I’m telling myself I can’t have it. I try telling myself, I don’t want that.

What’s happening in our brain is we’re telling our brain, I don’t want that, but our brain doesn’t believe us. Our brain knows that we’re lying. We can’t just cover up a thought like, I want that, I can’t have that with I don’t want it. What we need to do instead is we need to step into I don’t want that.

What that might look like is okay, I can’t have that, I want that. The next thing that we might start thinking about is well, how am I going to feel if I eat that? And really start to think about the aftereffects. Not while I’m eating it, because while we’re eating it, we’re going to be getting dopamine receptors all over our brains.

We’re going to be thinking about, oh my God, this is delicious. But if we can give ourselves a little bit of foresight and start to think about after we’re eating it, we don’t want to feel bad. And so many of us can use that as fuel. We can use that as; I don’t want to feel bad after eating this cake. And in fact, I want to feel good.

What we might do is we might start practicing if I eat that, it might make me feel bad. Or if I eat that, it might not make me feel good. Okay. So those would be intermittent thoughts. And so, what it’s doing is it’s just allowing us the idea of, okay, I hear you brain. I know that you want that, but if we eat it, we want to feel good. And if I eat it, I might not feel good or I might even feel bad.

The more that we can practice that, then the next step is to go to I don’t need to eat that. Because oftentimes, when we see the cake, we’re like, I want that I need the cake. Right?

A believable thought because that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about changing our thoughts about food is creating a thought that we can get behind. I don’t need to eat that can be a believable thought. And the more that we practice those other thoughts in the more they become believable, the more we get to I don’t want to eat that.

My point here is just that the difference between a diet with a big D and a diet with a small D is just the way that we think about it. Oftentimes, we’ll hear the term deprivation when we’re talking about diets. That diets are depriving us of certain foods. And that may be true. Okay.

But what deprivation is, is it’s not allowing ourselves to have something that we want. Therefore, we also know that deprivation is a thought in our brain.

If we can do the work behind changing our relationship with food, so that we are eating more food that makes us feel good. We’re limiting the food that is hyper palatable that doesn’t make us feel so good all the time. And on top of that, we’re not demonizing food. We’re not saying that certain foods are good, we’re not saying that certain foods are bad.

And we’re saying that all foods fit within a healthy diet. It’s just that I prefer to eat these foods. And when I say that, really getting behind it and really believing that. So, part of this is also not lying to yourself, not saying that I am a vegetarian, and then sneaking down to a burger joint, and eating a burger. Because you’re craving it.

I mean, let’s be honest here. When we’re talking about eating the foods that we’re eating, really just not having any judgment about whether food is good or whether food is bad but just saying that this is just the way that I eat. And these foods the way that I eat is what promotes the results that I get.

When we’re talking about diets with a big D versus diets with a small D, what we’re really talking about is being externally focused versus internally focused. The more that we can pay attention to how foods make us feel and eat that, the healthier we’re going to be because our body will tell us what foods are right for us. All right?

That’s all I have for you today. Have an amazing day, everyone. I’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.

Hey, thanks for listening.

If you’re done with dieting and would like to work with me as your coach, I’d like to invite you to reach out to myself and my team to ask about programs and pricing. Go to to get started today. I can’t wait to hear from you.

See you next week.

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