Let us now turn to possible dietary solutions. After all, it is all well and good to critique diets, and their practices, but what are the answers for the person who wants to take control of their body via their health, weight and fitness? To Abel it begins with “self-nurturing, self-respect, self-acceptance” (p. 44), that to be able to affect any kind of mastery over any goal including body transformation goals you must start from a place of positivity and acceptance, of yourself and your body. That to view yourself negatively from the outside, while you deprive your body will ultimately end in failure. More than this, these attributes have to be gleaned intellectually, they cannot be dieted to, in the dieting process, but rather reasoned from before the dieting process even begins. Abel urges that you self correct your diet-mentality by replacing the cycle of negativity in your own head:
You correct the mistakes you are making in your attempts at weight-loss and weight-control – by nurturing and accepting yourself beyond the mitakes you are making – NOT by rejecting yourself for making them. (Abel, 2015, p.45)
This new way of thinking Abel states will create a positive feed back loop that will enrich you, and when you positively perform toward your goals you will strengthen “your connection with your body” (p. 46). The catch being of course that the reverse is also true, labeling yourself “good” or “bad” every time you make a judgement about food will foster a disconnected state with your body.
As you can see, Abel stresses a pre-dietary understanding and introspection of yourself and who you are, cold hard nutritional facts and practices cannot guide you to who you are and what you value about yourself with self-compassion at the very center of all of this.
Think about your thoughts in relation to ‘how’ you eat, and ‘why’ you eat. And for the time being, leave the judgemental element of ‘what’ you eat out of the equation entirely. Just examine your operating system of the diet-mentality, and, as in the diagram, look at all the ‘branches of your existence’ that it extends to.
If you start to think ‘rationally’ from there, you can see all the irrational inconsistencies and emotional contagions of the diet-mentality that affect both you on a conscious and sub-conscious level. (Abel, 2015, p.69-70)
Abel thinks the “real and true and actual” key to weight management lies in being “process-focused” not “outcome focused” (p.70), more than this we need to focus on a consistent level of process focused behavior and thinking. Abel offers two strategies to be consistent with diet, in that it must:
- serve the body
- be sustainable
It’s in the self-compassionate mindset that Abel believes the path to being able to make consistency a priority lies, that allows for this to be a process and not an ideal (be it bodyweight/ bodyfat etc) to strive toward. He believes outcome focused thinking to be a part of the diet-mentality, a system that keeps you emotional and irrational and locked into thinking about end-points. Not that emotion itself can be or should be completely avoided either, but on the self compassionate mindset:
… emotional connections with yourself are ‘related’ to the food and eating experience, but not dictated by it. You are not emotionally connected “by” food or “to” food, any more than you could be emotionally connected to your mobile phone. (Abel, 2015, p.71)
That might be enough for today’s purposes. Please feel free to share any thoughts and criticisms you might have of this series thus far.
Abel, S. (2015). The Anti-Diet Approach to Weight Loss and Weight Control. Scott Abel.