Today is International No Diet Day, which might sound like a perfect time to head to your local all-you-can-eat buffet, right?

Well, not quite.


The first International No Diet Day was celebrated in the UK in 1992 and its message remains the same: to promote a healthy lifestyle while raising awareness of the potential dangers of dieting and the unlikelihood of success.


The failure rates for most of us who attempt a diet is pretty high. When you’re on a diet, you will inevitably come off it at some point and what happens then?


A commonly accepted statistic indicates that 95 per cent of us who diet end up putting the weight back on and some more within a 12-month period.


I had spent most of my earlier years on a diet. I was either in control and on a strict diet, which equalled success to me or I was off my diet and out-of-control, which told me I was a failure. So neither state was really satisfying to me.


Dieting is typically restrictive and leads to deprivation, both physical and emotional, which can lead to overeating. Many of us get caught up in a diet-binge cycle.


I’m a registered psychologist and I work with women to have what I call an ‘open relationship’ with food, whereby they can enjoy the foods they like and nothing is restricted.


I help women remove the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ labels from food. I remind them that they’re not ‘good’ because they eat salads or green smoothies and that they’re not ‘bad’ because they ate some cake. Instead, I show women how to let go of the food rules and instead, teach them how reconnect back with their bodies and honour their physical hunger.


The Suncorp Bank ‘Cost of Being Fit’ report showed Australians spend at least $8.5 billion a year on gym memberships, sports equipment and the latest fitness fads — this equates to about $2340 per household.


Interestingly, it’s estimated that about 62 per cent of adult Australians are overweight.


So, somehow our financial investment in exercise and weight-loss fads isn’t resulting in a fit and healthy adult population.


To assist women get off the diet bandwagon, I’ve found that there are three steps that really help women.


Like many issues that plague people, the first step is awareness. Discovering emotional eating patterns and vulnerable eating times during the day really helps women to see where patterns are developing.


The next step is to devise ways to put a buffer between uncomfortable feelings and emotional eating. It’s important for women to build up internal resources to manage their own discomfort rather than consistently turning to food.


Lastly, I encourage women be kinder to themselves. This type of self-compassion can help women create a new relationship with themselves and their bodies.

My aim is to show women that life can be much sweeter when you’re not on a diet.

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