There is no doubt that dieting is ingrained in our culture. It seems like almost everyone has been on a diet at some point in their life.

But what happens when dieting becomes a lifestyle? When year after year, you are spending the majority of time on a diet, or planning the next diet? I refer to this as chronic dieting.

Chronic dieting is when, over a period of years, your world is ruled by diets, calorie counting and food restriction, all with the goal of achieving or maintaining a certain weight or body type.

I was a chronic dieter for 15 years …. I started when I was 15 years old and finally got off the merry-go-round when I was 30 years old. That is big chunk of my life.

The dieting was intermittent. I was either ON an ‘eating program / regime / plan / diet’ and tightly controlled my food intake, or I was OFF my diet, during which time I would indulge in everything I had restricted before, and I was consumed by thoughts of when I will get back on the wagon.

Some studies estimate that older women, when looking back, have spent as much as 30 years of their life on a diet.

Wow! Can you recall the time of your first diet, and fast forward to now? How many months out of each year were you on a diet, or even thinking about going on a diet?

The truth is, chronic dieting is a form of perfectionism – a desire to get everything right, and eat in a perfect way. If today you didn’t get it right, there’s always tomorrow or the next day. Until you wake up and realise that that you’ve spent literally years of your life on a diet.

At some point the dieting is no longer about health or weight, but evolves into a fear of giving up control and trusting ourselves to eat more freely. We need to recognise that we are worth loving, no matter what we weigh.

According to Brene Brown, “Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”

No one on their deathbed wishes they had dieted more. So stop dieting and start living. Eat some chocolate cake and enjoy it! Experiment with all kinds of foods and adventures that ignite pleasure in your heart.

Eat slowly and mindfully and listen to your body. Your body will tell you when it needs more or when it’s had enough. You just have to give it a chance!

Life is too short to struggle with weight, unwanted eating challenges and negative body image.