Done with Dieting Episode #121: How to Eat Healthy Without Dieting

How to Eat Healthy without Dieting

Struggling with how to eat healthily without dieting? This episode offers a guide to the eight basic habits of healthy eaters. But finding balance involves more than just what food is on your plate. It involves a mindset shift, allowing you to adopt a healthier lifestyle without the reliance on a number on the scale. With questions such as how we judge what someone is eating, and how we set goals to achieve our desired outcome, I will show you how to create a healthy life without dieting… But will it work for you?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by trying to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle while still feeling restricted by dieting rules and not seeing the results you wanted, then you are not alone!

I thought I had to be thin to be healthy, but my journey taught me that health comes from so much more. Through research and self-discovery, I uncovered eight key habits that allowed me to break free from the constricting diet mentality and find balance in my life — an unexpected twist that changed my life forever!

Have you ever heard the following myths about achieving healthy eating without strict dieting? Myth #1 – You need to give up all of your favorite foods, Myth #2 – You can’t enjoy treats in moderation, Myth #3 – You need to eat the same boring meals every day. Well, I’m here to tell you that these myths are simply not true! In this episode, I will share the truth about sustainable, balanced nutrition habits.

When we shift our thinking from being outcome goal-based to being behavior goal-based, we can focus on the things we’re doing on a daily basis to ultimately achieve our goals without putting limits or contingencies on our bodies.” – Elizabeth Sherman

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

  • Discover the freedom of healthy eating without confining yourself to strict dieting.
  • Recognize the significance of protein as an essential component of a balanced diet.
  • Master efficient meal planning and preparation techniques to maximize your time.
  • Tackle monetary obstacles to make nutritious eating more accessible.
  • Break free from the all-or-nothing mentality and embrace a holistic approach to health and wellness.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

 Have you ever walked by someone eating a salad and said, ” Hey, are you on a diet?” And they say, “No, just eating healthy.” What does that mean? Are you curious? How do you eat healthy and not be on a diet? We’ve been raised in a culture where diet mentality is so prevalent. If you’re eating a salad, you’re just naturally quote unquote on a diet, or is that true?

Can you eat healthy without being on a prescribed diet? Tune in today’s episode, I’m going to break it down for you.

You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause symptoms and want to feel better – like they did before their body started changing.

I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman, Master Certified health, and life coach for women in menopause and peri menopause. I’ve helped thousands of women manage their symptoms, get off the diet roller coaster, and change their relationship with food, exercise, and stop fighting with their bodies. And I do it through a feminist lens – which means exploring how we are socialized as young women has a huge impact on our current relationship with food & exercise, our bodies, health, and ourselves.

What’s different about this podcast is that we’re exploring your health from all sides, not just food and exercise. We also address the mindset shifts that will make you happier and lead to better health.

My goal in this podcast is to illustrate that the reason diets don’t work long term is because your health doesn’t exist in a silo. Your health and your weight are a symptom of the OTHER parts of your life and how you show up. I want to help you to feel good and live the life you desire from a 360 degree approach: body, mind, and soul.

Welcome. Let’s get started.

 Hey everyone, welcome to the Done With Dieting Podcast, podcast episode number 121. And today what we’re talking about is how to eat healthy without dieting.

Now, are you someone who doesn’t know? Like, how do I eat healthy without dieting? What does that even mean? I want to eat healthy, but all I know is diets. Right?

For so many of us, we grew up in a society, in a culture that really values thinness over health. And what’s so interesting, I was just talking to one of my clients yesterday about this, Janie. And she was equating health with thinness. And that’s not necessarily true because everyone’s body has a different level of weight that they are optimally healthy at.

And so, for many of us we see the smaller that we get as being healthier. I know that when I did my body building competition, I was at my smallest and physically, I looked great. However, I was not at my healthiest. I felt weak. I didn’t have a lot of energy. My skin was actually pretty sallow. I just didn’t have vigor for life. For every one of us, health is going to look different.

For many of us, since we grew up in a culture that is diet culture, we really don’t know what are the rules of healthy eating anymore. We know what diet rules are, but what is health.

And there’s a Venn diagram. If you take two circles and move them close together so that there’s overlapping. One of the circles is healthy eating. The other circle is weight loss eating. And not all foods that are healthy are weight loss friendly and clearly not all foods that are weight loss friendly are healthy. Because when we think about health, What we’re thinking about are foods that our body naturally gravitates to. Foods that make our body feel good. Foods that will instill proper function and cellular level function for our bodies.

What I did to prepare for this episode, I accidentally recorded it once and actually hadn’t recorded it. So, I’ve done a lot of prep on this episode. But I went to the Google, and I looked for the definition of healthy. And so, Google says that the definition of healthy is that it’s indicative or conducive to promoting good health.

Because when I thought about this topic of how to eat healthy without dieting, I think that many of us look at that statement and we don’t really question it. But I do question it because I hear the word healthy being thrown around a lot.

As a health coach, I hear that topic being thrown around a lot. I hear, oh, you should eat this. It’s healthy. And I really question like, is that true? What does that even mean? Because we see healthy as a yes or a no. That it’s very binary, right? That this food is healthy, and that this food isn’t. But is that really true?

Health is actually more of a continuum. So, there are foods that are less healthy. And when we think about foods that are less healthy, the way that I define that, and this is certainly not the definition for everybody. You get to define health however you want to.

But when I think about health or healthy foods, I think about foods that have more nutrients per gram of weight or gram of calorie, I don’t know. But that are more nutrient dense and foods that are less nutrient dense. So, that’s really kind of how I define it.

There aren’t really any foods that are definitively healthy and there aren’t any foods that are definitively not healthy because I 100% believe that all foods fit within a healthy diet. And so, you can walk through a mall and see someone eating French fries and a burger and believe that that person is not eating healthy.

But do you know that to be true? We don’t know what that person’s needs are. They might just need to get calories into them. They might need because they’re really freaking hungry, or they might need to increase their weight. Is it the most healthy way of doing it? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s not for us to judge. But yet, we do judge people all the time on what they eat, how they eat, so on and so forth.

When it comes to healthy eating, I think where we get tripped up a lot and which is the premise of this question of how do I eat healthy without dieting. We are assuming that eating healthy will produce a result of being a lower body weight.

So, I want to interrupt here because I want to talk a little bit about goal setting.

Oftentimes, when we create goals, we have been taught about SMART goals, right? SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Relation, time bound. That’s the acronym. So, a goal that we set needs to have all of those attributes to it. But those goals are what we call outcome goals.

An example of an outcome goal would be, I want to lose 15 pounds of fat by January 14th or something like that. So that is specific, it’s measurable, it’s action oriented, it’s results based, and it’s time bound.

When we think about outcome goals, which are the goals that we normally create for ourselves, what happens is we really don’t have a lot of control around reaching that outcome or not. So, I can create that goal and I can create a plan to get myself to that goal.

But there are a lot of different factors that could get in the way of me accomplishing that goal. One of which is my body and how it responds to the plan. Like we don’t know what’s actually going to happen. We don’t know how my body is going to respond to not getting enough sleep, or being stressed out, or increased exercise, or any of those things.

When we create outcome goals, we’re kind of doing it from a place of faith. So instead, what I want to shift your focus to is what we call behavior goals. And I was just talking to a client of mine, Stacy about this yesterday.

And what we were talking about was she is or was a lifelong dieter. Her mom grew up dieting. She was going to Weight Watchers from a very early age. And in fact, became a Weight Watchers leader. So, she has all of this dieting in her background.

And there were so many times that she would go on a diet, she would reach her goal. But then she would go back, and she would relapse. She even started exercising and she ran a marathon. And with her marathon, she crossed the finish line, and then it kind of fizzled out.

So, for each of those accomplishments that she’s had within her life, she was always really confused about why is this happening to me? Why do I keep going back to the weight that I’m at when I’ve reached the goal? I know how to get to the goal. But I know that I’m not adopting this healthy mindset.

What we really started talking about were health or behavior goals. And so, I invited her to start looking at the future version of herself. The version of Stacy who exists in the future. The version of Stacy who has reached her goal and who maintains it easily.

Like really trying to put ourselves into the head of that future version of ourselves. What skills does she have that I don’t have today? And you’re going to say, well, I don’t know. Does she have skills? Yes, she does. Because I will guarantee that the future version of you who is able to maintain her weight, does not freak out when she has a cookie.

The future version of you can go into a restaurant and order something and not worry that she’s going to gain her weight back. The future version of you is going to be able to make a mistake and then not take two weeks to overcome to get back on plan.

So, when we think about the future version of us, who is a healthy eater, who’s naturally a healthy eater. What is she doing on a regular basis?

There are a couple other concepts that I’m going to introduce in today’s podcast of other podcast episodes that I’ve recorded. And I’m going to refer back to them and I’ll put them in the show notes. But the main topic that we’re really pulling from today is what’s called “The Eight Basic Habits that Healthy People Do.”

Now, The Eight Basic Habits That Healthy People Do, it’s a guide and a checklist that I have for free on my website. All you have to do is go to and you can pick up your own copy. And it’s fantastic because it actually walks you through the eight basic habits that if you do these eight basic things on a consistent basis, you will be healthier than most people that you know.

Now, these eight basic habits, I’ll go over them right now. And if you want more information, you can go into episode number three called “The Foundation.” And if you want more information on that again, go to episode three or go to Pick that up. But I’ll go over the eight basic habits right now, very briefly. And then, you can go to one of those other resources to find more information.

So, the eight basic habits are things you already know. It’s drink water. Eat some vegetables. Have protein with each of your meals. And that doesn’t necessarily need to be lean protein, right? We all hear about lean protein when we’re talking about dieting. But everyone’s body works differently with different cuts of lean.

Like really thinking about what is it that I desire, not what is it that I’ve been conditioned to learn. Because we may do better on higher fat levels. And so, in that case, you may do better with beef, instead of chicken. Or you may do better on chicken thighs, instead of chicken breasts. So, if you find chicken breasts like dry and boring, maybe try chicken thighs. I mean, there’s a lot of different options for you. There are tons of different food out there, and you can be healthy on all of them.

Number three was eat protein with each meal. You want to make sure that you’re sleeping adequately, and that’s going to be different for everybody. We all have a different sleep requirement based on our age, based on our activity level, based on our stress. Where we are in life, based on our current health, and just genetics. And that’s four.

Number five is move daily, of course. We all know that we should be moving. And based on your fitness level, you can move more or less. I recommend that everyone walk at least 30 minutes a day, start where you are.

Number six is manage your stress.

Number seven is eat just enough, not too much. And along with that, what we want to do is we want to eat slowly. Now, that habit right there, ‘eat slowly and eat just enough, not too much.’ That was a habit that it took me a really, really long time to grasp. Just because I had grown up, eating to over full for such a long time. And so, that was a very familiar feeling to me to be over full after eating. When I moved to satisfaction, it felt uncomfortable. I was really unsure with it. But that will actually help your digestion. It’ll help you feel better as well.

And then finally, the last habit is limit your treats. We want you to have treats, but we just don’t want to overdo it on treats, right? We don’t want a day where we’re only eating cookies, for example, right?

We think that healthy eating is synonymous with dieting. But what I want to suggest is that healthy eating is not synonymous with dieting. In fact, if you were to look at a Venn diagram of healthy and weight loss, we would see that they overlap, but they’re not the same.

And so, we really want to decouple those two ideas that when I’m eating healthy, that means that I’m losing weight. Because if I’m eating healthy, and I stand on the scale and I feel like I’m doing so much. I’m trying so hard to eat healthy. And the scale doesn’t validate my efforts. Then, what’s going to happen is I’m going to give up, right?

So, when we think about behavior goals versus outcome goals. Going back to that for a second. When we’re doing the things so that we can have a specific outcome, which is weight loss, then what happens is we are doing the things, we’re eating the food, we’re exercising, we’re doing all of these great things for our bodies. But we’re putting limits or contingencies on our body. We’re saying, okay, body, I’m doing this, but only so that you do this other thing for me. It’s kind of like having strings attached with a friendship. Okay, friend, I’m going to do these things for you, but then you’re going to have to do this thing for me.

What we really want to do is we want to shift our thinking from being outcome goal based to being behavior goal based. So, what are the things that you’re doing on a daily basis that are going to help you to ultimately achieve that goal, but not necessarily be required for that goal? And so, that’s where the eight basic habits come in.

One of the things that we know for sure are that the benefits of eating a balanced diet is going to be improved energy, better mood, better overall health. You’re probably going to sleep better. You’re going to think better. You’re going to be able to regulate your appetite better. All of those things are going to be outcomes that you’ll miss if you’re only looking for the number on the scale.

Now, talking a little bit about basic nutrition. We want to make sure that you have a balanced diet and everyone’s going to be different. A balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, and fat.

I’ve talked about this before on the podcast, but I’m going to talk about it again just briefly.

So, when we talk about carbohydrates, we’re not just talking about pasta, or grains like rice, and things like that. But vegetables also fit into that category. We also have proteins. Now, proteins are the building blocks of your muscles. And so, if you don’t have enough protein in your diet, and most women don’t. Most women don’t get enough protein in our diets because I don’t know why.

But we tend to go more for the vegetarian type foods. I think that we look at protein heavy meals as being more manly. And so, I think that it’s actually, like we’ve somehow genderized eating and thinking that fruits and vegetables are more girly or woman, female. And that proteins are more male.

But women need protein in their diets because when we get older, proteins are actually the building blocks of our muscles. And if we don’t have enough protein in our diet, our body will actually use our muscles as protein. So, do make sure that you are getting enough protein in your diet. And not only that, but protein is also going to help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day.

And as we get older, as we move into midlife and menopause, in that process, our bodies become more sensitive to insulin and reactive to stress. If we were to eat carbohydrates without protein, we get a huge spike in insulin and then it drops off.

When we have protein with that carbohydrate, it smooths it out. So, if you add protein to your diet, you’ll probably notice that you’re satiated for a longer period of time.

Some of the obstacles that we have for eating healthy are time constraints. We think that we don’t have time to plan or time to prepare. Now, if this is your case, one of the things that I’m really going to strongly suggest is that the time that you put up front is actually going to save you boatloads of time later on.

So, for example, if you just spend a little bit of time figuring out what am I going to eat for dinners this week? And maybe deciding ahead of time that you’re going to cook a little bit more so that you can have lunch the following day as well. And then, also looking at your schedule for the following week and figuring out when do I have time to make this? Do I need to put it in the crockpot? What are all of the things that I need to do?

So, if you can do that ahead of time, it can actually save you boatloads of time during the week because we know that when we’re crunched for time in the moment. So, let’s say that it’s Tuesday evening, it’s six o’clock. I walk through the door, and I don’t even know what I have in the fridge. I don’t know what I’m going to cook.

Then, chances are that I’m going to make something that is good for me is relatively low. If I’ve done some planning ahead of time, I’ve done the shopping, or I’ve ordered Instacart to do the shopping, and I have that all figured out. Better yet, earlier in the day before I left for work, I actually put it in the crockpot. So, it’s ready when I walk through the door. Then, what happens is we have no what’s called ‘decision fatigue.’

So, I walk in the door, dinner’s ready. I don’t have to think about it. Thank God for past version of me because I set myself up for success. And I think that that’s actually really super important. Really trying to set the future version of yourself up for success so that she can have it easier, and she can have the energy to pay it forward, so on and so forth.

Again, one of the obstacles to, healthy eating is believing that you don’t have time to do something. Sometimes people also think that eating healthy is financially more expensive. And I want to suggest that it doesn’t have to be. You can go to the grocery store and buy things that are on sale. It might take a little bit more creativity on your part. But the basics of healthy food actually do not have to be super expensive.

Again, meal planning can help you be successful. When I say meal planning, a lot of people hear, meal preparation. And that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is deciding ahead of time what it is that you’re going to eat. And so, if you are eating out 100% of your meals right now, you can still keep doing that.

It’s going to be harder if you’re eating all of your meals out because you don’t have 100% control over what it is that you’re eating. However, that being said. There are a lot of restaurants today that have some vegetables on their menu. And so, if you can decide ahead of time before you get hungry, what it is that you’re going to eat for that next meal. You can make decisions from the rational, the thinking part of your brain versus the emotional part of your brain that’s just like, feed me now and what I want is junk food.

So, when you’re trying to eat healthier, doing a little bit of planning and preparation can actually save you so much time and energy.

And then, the next thing that I think that a lot of people have problems with is because of diet culture, we have this ‘all or nothing thinking’ going on. That when we follow a diet, so how do I eat healthy without dieting? When we’re dieting, we’re following rules. And we feel like we have to be perfect on these rules.

And so, when we are just eating healthy, we don’t have this all or nothing thinking going on. What we can do is we can really focus on those basics, those eight basic habits that healthy people do. We can add in more vegetables into our day. We can add more lean meats. We can start to crowd out the soda with water. We can start to crowd out the pastries or the sugary snacks with fruit, for example.

When we can look at what we’re eating from a holistic point of view, what can happen is doing something is a lot better than going to the ‘all or nothing,’ thinking. And so one of my clients, Renee, who is in the Feel Good Sisterhood, my group coaching program. She co-opted this phrase that I used to say, which was “Something is better than nothing and it all adds up.”

And it’s absolutely true. Every single week, you can totally half ass like being a healthy eater. Because again, being healthy or being a healthy eater isn’t a binary thing. It’s not an all or a nothing. It’s a little bit more. And so, how you might do that is when you go out to eat, if you want a burger for dinner, then maybe share the burger with your partner, or your kid. Or have your burger, have your fries, or have a salad with it.

Because when we think about healthy eating, again, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. All foods fit into a healthy diet. It also begs the question of health. In what aspect? So, when we think about health, yes, we have physical health. Which is probably what you’ve been thinking about when you’ve been listening to this podcast episode. But what about our emotional and our mental health?

So, sometimes we’re going to need the brownies instead of the broccoli for our mental health for our emotional health. So that we can bond with our kid. So that we can bond with our partner in that special dinner that we’re having.

When we can think about health, not only from a very binary, all or nothing thinking, physical health standpoint. When we can look at how foods fit into our life, then what happens is we can have a little bit more compassion for ourselves in terms of what it is that we’re eating.

All right. That’s all I have for you today. If you want the Eight Basics Habits That Healthy People Do, I am going to recommend that you get that. Again, it’s free. Go to and you can get it there. Also, listen to episode number three called “The Foundation.” It’s all about the eight basic habits.

I’m also going to put in the show notes another podcast episode called “B Minus Habits,” where I talk about just getting a little bit better every single day because that’s really when we’re trying to be healthier, we really just want to do ‘B minus’ work. We’re never going to be able to do “A plus” work. Because “A plus” work just doesn’t exist.

All right. So, those are all of the resources that I have for you. Have an amazing week, everyone. And I will talk to you next time. Bye-bye.

Hey, thanks for listening.

If the show resonates with you and you have a friend, mother, sister or anyone else who you think would benefit, I’d love for you to share the podcast with them.

You can leave me a rating and review in Apple podcasts which helps me create an amazing experience for you. And it helps other women who are done with dieting and want to get off the diet roller coaster to find it as well.

See you next week.

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