Learn how to shut up your inner Diet Nag who criticizes every bite you eat.
You’re so stupid! You have no self-control! Loser!
Wouldn’t you be really upset and angry if someone said this to you?
Yet, we often say this to ourselves…well our inner critic does. When it comes to eating and our health, I like to call this voice our Diet Nag.
Most people are so used to criticizing themselves that they don’t even realize the effect it’s having on their self-esteem until they’re suffering major insecurities, depression or an eating disorder.
In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders showed a strong correlation between eating disorders and this self-critical inner voice. So much so, that the researchers concluded that the voice of the inner critic is a key factor in predicting the severity of an eating disorder.
This inner critic or Diet Nag actually means well…it just goes about it the wrong way. The aim of this voice in your head is to protect you and keep you safe. However, if left to run riot in your head it creates fear, anxiety and self-loathing, zaps you of energy, undermines your ability to enjoy eating and maintain a healthy natural balance when it comes to food and weight.
This voice monitors how well you’re sticking to the rules of your diet. It’s harsh, mean, judgey, unpleasant and frankly a bee-aach. This voice makes you feel guilty, ashamed, hopeless and like a complete failure.
Not at all helpful or healthy in fact. And now it’s time to shut it up.
Firstly, what does your inner diet nag sound like?
The Diet Nag usually includes words like; must, should, ought to, need to, supposed to, have to.
“I must not eat carbs.” OR “I should have a bowl of fruit instead.”
The Diet Nag will also say things like:
- “Food is the enemy”
- You’ll be fat forever.”
- “You should feel bad because you didn’t exercise. You’re so lazy!”
- “Your flabby stomach is so disgusting.”
- “You’ll have to exercise now because you ate that dessert.”
- “Well, you’ve blown your diet now, just go for it and eat the whole lot – tomorrow you’ll have to be good again.”
- “Eat less or skip the next meal because you ate something ‘naughty’.”
- “You must calorie count or measure your food.”
- “You have to lose weight to be happy or healthy.”
- “You must restrict your food because this makes you worth something.”
- “You should eat less than those around you, because they will judge you.”
Do any of them sound familiar?
How does your Diet Nag make you feel? Chances are pretty crappy, right?
Cutting the cord on your Diet Nag is essential to rebuilding your self-confidence and getting rid of your diet mentality.
How to shut up your Diet Nag
Your diet rules are what the Diet Nag voice thrives on…its core reason for being. Once you rid yourself of these rules and give yourself total freedom by listening to your body cues to eat whatever your body wants and needs at any given moment – then the Diet Nag has no base to work from. No rules to beat over the head you with. You can download my free guide “How to Break Free from your Dieting Hell” to help you kickstart this process.
The next step is to start to recognize when the Diet Nag is talking to you. This may take some practice if you’ve been mindlessly listening to it for years. Look for those favorite words or phrases it likes to use:
“You are so______”
“You should _____”
“You always _____”
If the tone is judgmental, sarcastic or hurtful…it’s probably your Diet Nag.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself “Would I say this to my best friend?”
If the answer is no – it’s probably your unhelpful Diet Nag talking.
Once you recognize it, then challenge it. Remember these thoughts are not fact – they are just thoughts. Will I really never find love and be happy unless I restrict my food and lose 25 lbs? I know loads of friends weigh more than me and are super happy and loved.
Also, start to tune into your body and listen to it. If you’re craving a piece of cake – go eat the piece of cake. Just make sure you sit down, savor it, enjoy it, eat until you’re satisfied and comfortably full but not stuffed, and then get on with your day.
Eating a piece of cake when you crave it does not make you weak, stupid or a failure. It makes you smart – because you’re trusting your body’s needs, and less likely to binge on a whole box of cookies later to make up for depriving yourself the cake.
This is a critical step in becoming an instinctive eater and rebuilding your self-confidence and peace with food. The key is NO JUDGEMENT – that’s the Diet Nag’s job. Just slowly start to become aware of your Diet Nag at any time. And like any bully, acknowledge it, confront and challenge it and tell it to go to hell because it’s outright WRONG.
Suck it Diet Nag!