So you have gut issues, but you’ve been wondering, “how to stop dieting in the long term?” Because you’re tired of it.

My ugly dieting past has taken on many different forms, but I now realize that not only is it a dieting past, but it’s a very ugly dieting past.

Note: this post was originally written in 2012, long before I would heal for good. It’s been updated in 2024 to reflect not only the past, but also what I have learned + what you, too, can do to stop dieting. Spoiler alert: I do not engage in any sort of negative dieting health behaviors today, and I will tell you that it’s for sure one of the reasons I was able to heal my gut for good.

You Cannot Diet Harder

…..and there are 2 reasons for this:

  1. If you haven’t been appropriately tested (not via Dr. Google), then dieting harder makes no sense. In other words, “What are you dieting harder for?” Isn’t the point of a diet to solve a problem? If you don’t know the problem, you can’t solve it.
  2. Dieting harder won’t change all the other lifestyle factors. If there is one thing I have learned during these past 10 years of going through all the motions, it’s that diet, while critical for healing, is far from being the only healing variable. Maybe there is something else keeping you sick and miserable. Stress levels? Too little/much activity? Not enough sleep? Poor relationships? Using skincare and makeup that contain hormone disruptors? Your environment? Etc. 

My Ugly Dieting Past

I have known for a very long time now that my patterns of fad diets and chaotic food intake since the 1990’s have been anything but typical. 

And the very first time I began to see how my food choices (or maybe a lack thereof) were affecting various health conditions was after attending a live conference in 2012.

I heard from people like Mark Sisson, Julia Ross and Geenene Roth. And then I was even more confident than ever that these were not just “restrictive diets” to write in my history book. 

They were simply eating habits that formed my ugly dieting past.

Mark Sisson

During a presentation, Mark Sisson referred to this as his “health disaster.” 

He noted that after a long time of incessantly working out, counting every calorie and living by all the “quick fix rules” we’ve heard make us “diet successful,” he became weak, ill and injured.

I, too, have been there in my ugly dieting past.

Julia Ross

Julia Ross talked about dieting as the #2 cause of binge eating, pointing out “dieting” as it refers to:

  • fasting
  • diet foods and sodas
  • low cal
  • skipping meals
  • low fat
  • caffeine
  • appetite suppressants
  • artificial sweeteners
  • vegan/vegetarian

I, too, have been there in my ugly dieting past.

Geene Roth

And finally, Geenene Roth spoke about her own ugly dieting past. 

I related to so many of the yo – yo diets she’s adopted at one point in her life. 

Sadly, I even related with her “brown diet,” which consisted at one point of Diet Soda, Coffee and Cigarettes. You think, “gross,” but I guarantee there is a whole slew of people out there on a very similar diet at this exact moment.

I “got” Geenene. 

I, too, have been there in my ugly dieting past.

After the conference was over, I thought about the words those 3 individuals presented.

I thought about my own chronic dieter tendencies I’ve put myself through.

And then I thought about the effect of the diet cycle on my life today. 

I began to wonder,

Have I fully moved beyond that? Or do I sometimes just pretend?

The first step was addressing them within.

Not just for me, but for you, too. 

We all like to think we hold the keys to a healthy habits, and diet plans that “work.”

But when we use the 4-letter “d” word constantly and assign it different meanings (ie. gluten-free diet, Paleo diet, Vegan diet, low-fat diets, keto diet, low-carb diets etc. etc.) it soon becomes a word which is likely not associated with our true health goals any longer. 

Instead, it just becomes another part of our dieting history and ultimately an ugly dieting past.

How to Stop Dieting

So then, how to stop dieting?

How to stop dieting

Because diet culture is alive and well, it’s not easy. And when you couple that with gut health issues, it’s no wonder that we create impossible food rules and get into an addictive cycle of dieting.

Diet culture tells us that the pursuit of weight loss is the greatest goal we can set for ourselves.

Couple that with any form of a gut-healing diet you may have researched or been told to follow, and that leave us with an extreme form of restrictive eating.

And while we might have the best intentions, most will fall flat time-and-time again.

So what did I personally do? 

Well, I’ll share with my 7 best tips for how to stop dieting in order to actually start healing.

7 Tips to Stop Dieting

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7 best tips for How to stop dieting
  • The most important thing I must share is that if you need professional help PLEASE seek it. If your physical health has been deteriorating and there’s not an ounce of positive relationship between you and the foods you’re consuming, you must seek help. The combination of the two things I explained above (diet culture + extreme dieting) can (or maybe for you already has?) lead to an eating disorder. And, in fact, there is a direct correlation between eating disorders and gut health. You could choose to work with a therapist or registered dietitian (or better yet, both).
  • Look at your current diet: And then ask yourself, “Am I seeing patterns?” Patterns like: emotional eating, a forbidden foods list, etc. You can always start here. You don’t have to judge it. Instead, just notice it; journal out your thoughts regarding it can help. If you’re HONEST with yourself, this can be the best way to stop the vicious cycle. For me personally, this was the conference I attended. Though, truth be told, while I was able to easily recognize it back then, it didn’t mean I changed much. 
  • The next step is to think about a new approach: If the very food you’re consuming is not serving you in the first place, then how will you change it? This step can be done in conjunction with #2. But here are some questions I was asking myself in this phase:
  • What would healthy eating constitute for me? And, based on my current gut diagnosis or other health problems, how can I create a diet that suits my body’s needs? This step does require that you actually know what’s going on with your gut vs. asking Dr. Google. In Gut Healing: ELEVATED we break down a ton of different conditions and testing options so that you can confidently go to your medical provider and seek the help you need.
  • What are some small changes I can make today to start nourishing my body better in order to live a happier life?
  • Is the new diet I’m looking to change to still a form of restrictive dieting OR is it one that’s truly conducive for healing?
  • Delete the weight loss goal: You can’t chase two goals at once. In other words, you can’t desire weight loss and healing your gut; they are usually conflicting. I believe that WHEN YOU HEAL YOUR GUT and get rid of all the gas, bloating, and stomach distention you WILL get comfortable in your OWN SKIN. That being said, IF you truly need to achieve a healthy weight, choosing to focus on gut healing with naturally see you there. Healthy weight is unique to the individual, but according to the Set Point Theory, once (truly) healed, your body weight will go to where it naturally desires.
  • Cut the New Year weight + food-related goals. Don’t start and stop at a certain time of year (i.e “My New Year’s goal is to stick to a ketogenic diet” or “Starting on Monday I will practice intermittent fasting for 16 hours a day.”). While both can provide benefits in extreme cases, if they are done haphazardly, they are likely not for you.
  • Begin to listen to your own body. Old habits die hard, but your body does not lie. True hunger cues will help you live in a more sustainable way. And the good news is that if you can master this, that might be your best plan of action.
  • Overhaul your lifestyle. So often we think that it’s just about the diet. It’s not. It’s about making one lifestyle change at a time to see you to the other side. Lifestyle includes everything from mental health to support groups and sleeping more to finding what truly brings you joy in life. Without those, we try to control the foods we do and don’t consume so as to not feel all the things. And this control will never see you to the other side of food freedom.

Useful quotes to think about as you consider your own ugly dieting past….

I want to leave you with some incredible quotes I heard that weekend at the live conference. 

Mark Sisson,

Mark Sisson My Ugly Dieting Past

Julia Ross, My Ugly Dieting Past Julia Ross

Geenene Roth, My Ugly Dieting Past Geenene Roth


I will tell you that, on the other side of it all, it’s not easy.

Sure, I was ready to leave diet mentality in the past in 2012. 

But it took years to arrive in that place I was at, and it also took years to recover from it.

One thing I had to do was let go of those feelings of guilt: WHY did I engage so long in a chronic dieting cycle that destroyed my health even further? But you MUST let go of that, and instead accept what is was while making the decision to move on from it.

If you liked this article on how to stop dieting, you might also enjoy:

  1. Food Fear and Gut Healing
  2. 21 Gut Healing Lifestyle Components
  3. Heal Your Gut. Heal Your Life.

Ready to get started healing for good? Consider joining us in Gut Healing: ELEVATED.

Because of my staunch position on diagnosis, diet, and lifestyle, I created a SYSTEM that acts as your ultimate gut bloat detox for banishing the bloat and achieving optimal bowel movements.

It’s called: Gut Healing: ELEVATED and it’s for women who are type A, over-achieving, exhausted AND super bloated who seek relief and a less stressful journey for achieving it all.

This is not just another course to take without seeing results due to your actions.

I’m not here to lecture your ears off (you have plenty of people in your life to do that for you).

Instead, short instruction and MASSIVE action I help you take.

Time is precious.

The longer we stay sick, the longer it takes to heal.


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  1. Good for you!! I think SO many healthy living/fitness bloggers have ED/disordered eating pasts (I do!). It’s so important to recognize it, find help and start making changes and shifting your perception!

  2. YES!! Sarah, we are so alike. We use a lot of primal eating ways as well and it has been a lifesaver. Thank you for sharing your journey! <3

  3. Life’s a dance you learn as you go…
    Keep learning and reflecting Sarah and you’ll find your “happy place.”
    Many people have trouble admitting that they could have or should have done things differently (as they are too close-minded). Good job of not being, “that person.”
    Stay strong,

    1. I am 100% committed to not ever being “that person” again. I’d rather be a little less lean and be a lot more healthy. The REAL healthy!

  4. i love your recap of the speakers, and what it brought up for you! so great to meet you this weekend and learn more about you. you have a lot to give!!

    1. Aww…thanks, Emily! So wonderful to meet you as well. We should definitely sync up about doing some stuff together:)

  5. Thanks for sharing. I don’t have an ugly dieting past but I do have an ugly eating past — including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. For me a diet was just never enough. When I veer back to old behaviors, I try to be rationale and remind myself of what works — balance, health and feeindg my body what it needs!

  6. oh i bet this would have been an awesome conference! i love hearing all of these people talk about different things. The thing for me with Mark is that technically i feel like with Paleo he is still promoting a diet of is that different than going vegan?

    I am definitely working right now on simply eating. not calories, not shoulds, just food because i’m hungry

    1. It was an AMAZING conference. Gosh…I still have *so* much more to write on it in the coming days and weeks! Yes, he absolutely was still promoting a diet…The Primal Diet. It’s just not so much a “diet” anymore for him because there are no restrictions, his body is happy and he finally feels healthy. It is a lifestyle for him. I think that’s where we all should be. Not diet; lifestyle. Thanks for the awesome thoughts, Amanda!

  7. So well written and as women (especially) I feel like we have all tried some sort of horrible/ugly diet and it’s sad. We are so hard on ourselves as to what we are supposed to look like, that we forget about how WE feel and how our loved ones feel about us. Thank for sharing this and look forward to hearing more about your conference…sounds very interesting!

  8. good for you sarah!! that’s awesome you were able to be real with yourself because that’s sometimes the hardest part. i definitely have my fair share of history with some “ugly dieting” strategies and disordered eating habits, so i can completely relate!

  9. Great post Sarah…I’ve been there too…so it’s refreshing to see bloggers be really open…we’re not all that different! 🙂 Love the freedom of this healthy life now! 🙂

  10. Love the personal connections you made to the content, Sarah. I really enjoyed meeting you and am amused at how small the world really is. Great recaps!

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  12. Such a great post! I have had that bad dieting past as well. After I first lost my weight, it was all about salads only & no protein & healthy fats & I did this for too many years – well into my late 20’s not really knowing the real way to eat. In my 30’s I finally started to learn & it has been constant learning since then! Always more to learn….

    Like I commented in one of your recent posts, some may go on a “diet” per se, like vegan or Paleo but at some point if it is just their life then it stops being a diet & is just their lifestyle & most importantly they see it as just the way they live vs. a diet.

    Me, I am not on any diet, I just live & eat what I do as part of my life.. 🙂

    1. It’s not an easy thing. I have struggled for so long. I still have the mental edge there, but I am treating *me* so much better when I’m on the “Sarah Lifestyle!” Thanks for stopping by, Jody!

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