How to Stop Dieting & Ditch Food Rules Once and For All
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Intro to food rule bending: Ditch the diet mentality and find balance & joy in eating

How to stop dieting and ditch food rules

If you have ever thought about dieting or been on a diet, this article is to encourage you to stop dieting. There is a way to stop dieting and achieve your personal best weight still eating foods you love. Now more than ever there are food rules, trendy eating regimes and fad diets that tell you which foods are good or bad and how you should eat.

If you have experienced dietary chatter in your mind about what you “should” eat and are looking to move away from dieting behaviors and the noisy thoughts that steal enjoyment from eating, you are not alone. Improving your overall relationship with food and your body is one of the most important aspects of what our Registered Dietitian team works on with our clients struggling with health issues, weight loss concerns or eating disorders.

Watch this previous Global TV News segment on how to stop dieting and bend food rules: 

Why do food rules develop?

While food rules can develop through a broad range of personal experiences, cultural influence, family upbringing and environmental triggers, one of the other ways to think about why food rules develop is to understand your brain. The human brain can be divided into two broad hemispheres that carry out very different functions: the left brain and the right brain.

 The best words to describe the LEFT BRAIN are:

  • Logic, linear, control, accurate
  • Analytical, strategic, familiarity, patterns
  • Academics, science, math and language

The best words to describe the RIGHT BRAIN are:

  • Feeling, creativity, imagination
  • Intuition, freedom, passion, unstructured
  • Art, music, poetry, taste, emotion

The left brain appreciates structure, rules and simplified black and white thinking (especially in response to stress or if you are anxious or depressed about your weight or appearance). All or none eating habits or labeling food as either good or bad can therefore be easy to do. Daily calorie tracking apps appeal to your left academic brain and can easily lead you to lose sight of the big picture and how you feel.

Top Calgary Nutritionist / Online Dietitian Team Health Stand Nutrition Consulting team philosophy

Diets can hijack your left brain’s ability to access the right brain for input which is related to intuition. Losing your intuition about what your body is communicating about food in the moment from a mind, body and spirit perspective is harmful for your long-term well-being and overall food and body relationship.

Questions such as what am I hungry for, am I fully satiated and what does this food do to my mood? involve the right brain and are linked to feelings, taste and flexibility. Diets that provide a list of forbidden foods and set portions of diet foods goes against the intuitive right brain that embraces “colorful” creative thinking (i.e. not black and white thinking).

How can we go about breaking food rules and stop dieting? 

There are 3 steps to stop dieting and ditch food rules:


1. Become aware of your food rules

All change starts with awareness of our thoughts. Spend some time exploring the question “What are my food rules?”

To help you generate some thought think about these 10 questions:

  1. Am I able to eat without feeling guilty?
  2. Do I have a list of “good foods” and “bad foods”?
  3. Have I labelled my eating as a “good day” or “bad day”?
  4. Do I experience pleasure and satisfaction from eating a meal?
  5. What do I feel I “should” or “should not” eat at home or when eating out?
  6. Do I weigh or measure food or count anything (calories, points, grams of fat/protein/carb)?
  7. What messages about eating, food choices, cleaning your plate, snacking, dessert or weight were provided by my parents or caregivers growing up?
  8. Do I have rules about what time of day or how much is acceptable to eat or drink at one time?
  9. Do I eat differently in front of other people or compare what I eat with other people?
  10. Do I eat differently if I have or have not exercised?

2. Become a left AND right brain eater

Eating fully = healthfully (left brain) + soulfully (right brain)

There are no bad foods, only bad diets. It’s all about choice. Nothing is off limits. Just like budgeting your finances, you need to develop the skill and awareness of spending and saving where it counts. Similar to our bank account, what we choose to spend on is highly individual. There will always be key basic needs we must spend on, and then there is discretionary room for fun.

Use your left brain that is logical, analytical and structured to build daily and weekly healthful foods and meals chosen for nutrition and good health and productivity.

To access your right brain be sure to spend some quiet time reflecting on what foods make you happy and which soulful foods chosen for taste, enjoyment and socializing you appreciate most. Allowing the creative and emotional right brain to flow is an important influence in becoming an intuitive eater to live your best life.


3. Reframe food rules to rewire the brain

Psychologists use the term cognitive flexibility (which I like to think of as reframing), to describe the ability to view a situation, event or thought from different perspectives. Reframing unconscious, automatic negative thoughts or food rules into more positive and realistic perspectives may seem initially hokey but the effects are profound when you work on this skill over time. Work on a handful of potential comebacks or reframe responses about negative thoughts or food rules. If you are stuck for answers, think about how you would respond to a friend as this may be easier to offer kind and compassionate words or insight. As you practice your food rules will become less intense and your automatic thoughts will move to those that are kinder.


Reframing a thought can rewire the brain.  

For example:

If you have struggled with your weight and bingeing on chocolate and sweets and then labelled them as forbidden foods here is the food rule or negative thought and some ideas for the reframe.


Food Rule:  “I can’t eat this chocolate because I am fat”

Potential Reframe Ideas:

  • There are no bad foods, only bad overall diets
  • I am worthy of enjoying ALL foods
  • No one food contributes to weight gain or weight loss
  • Permission to eat chocolate regularly and guilt-free leads to more satisfaction with smaller quantities
  • When I eat chocolate, I will do so mindfully to savour and enjoy each bite
  • I am learning that somewhere between eating no chocolate and bingeing on chocolate mindlessly, is an amount that provides true satisfaction

Struggling to stop dieting?  Confused about the right balance of healthy foods and soulful foods? If you have an unhealthy relationship with food or your body, we can help.

The Health Stand Nutrition Dietitian team specializes in helping you stop dieting and instead develop a balanced living plan you can live with for life.  We can help you with meal planning, weight concerns, eating disorders, digestive health issues, sports nutrition and more.  Learn more about our nutrition counselling programs or contact us directly below to get more information.

You might also want to check out these previous articles on our blog:  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As seen in


Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This