A letter from non-diet mentality Kylie to diet-mentality Kylie.

One of my favorite songs is The Ballad of Love and Hate by the Avett Brothers and it inspired me to write this post. 

Just a quick reminder, before we get into the post, on how to recognize if you’re in a diet mentality…

Dear diet mentality Kylie,

Of all the relationships I’ve been in throughout my life…you were the biggest waste of time.  I stayed with you longer than I should have.  You were like an abusive boyfriend I kept going back to.  Someone who made me feel terrible about my self, but regardless I kept going back to you.  It took me 10 years to break-up with you.

When I hear you in other people, it makes my skin crawl.  When I hear people talking about their Whole30 diet, paleo diet, cleanses, happiness over weight loss, sadness over weight gain, low carb diet, “summer slim-down/shape-up” plan, inability to eat dessert on a weekday…I see you in those people.  

I want to share everything I’ve learned since leaving you, but I know it’s their own journey and even if I see someone drowning I can’t save them  by bombarding them with information.  I have to throw a life saver their way and hopefully they choose to swim to shore and get out of the sea of diet mentality.  I can’t get them out of diet mentality without them wanting to get out of a diet mentality.  There have been relationships I’ve ended because some are drowning in diet mentality and when I reach out a hand to save them I end up getting pulled into the water.  Boundaries in relationships are huge for helping me stay away from you.  Anytime someone mentions food being food or bad, their exercise routine or a body size in a negative way…I always visualize paint drying because I think watching paint dry and inhaling paint fumes would be more entertaining and less harmful than hearing someone talk about micromanaging their body size.

It sucks because you are so normalized in our society.  Skipping meals, not eating snacks, distracting yourself from hunger, eating clean during the week and relaxed on the weekends, restricting yourself from foods you enjoy…those are all diet-mentality, disordered eating behaviors and they are encouraged in the world we live in.  People go to eating disorder treatment for all those behaviors listed, but in the weird world we live in, people walk around talking about them like the behaviors you encourage are healthy, when they are actually dangerous.

You taught me to try every diet.  Non-diet “me” gets to be so connected to her body and I’ve learned I can trust my body.  I’ve learned that trusting my body and what it is craving is caring for my body.  Why did you teach me that caring for my body meant food restriction and overexercise? Now, going on a diet or overexercising would feel similar to only allowing myself to pee or breath a certain number of times a day.  It would be stupid to do because it’s something I know my body has got under control.

I think the thing I’m most mad at you for is making me think I was more valuable if I took up less space in this world.  Geez.  That one messed me up from age 14 to my early 20s.  You lowered my self-esteem and taught me my worth should come from my body size, my exercise routine, and my ability to eat “clean” foods.  You taught me to be obsessed with and think about food 90% of the day.  Now I get shit done in this world and that 90% of previously wasted brain space has been put towards building a business, investing in relationships with friends/myself/my husband, and becoming the person I was meant to be.

You made me think that health meant restricting and depriving myself from things I enjoyed.  You brainwashed me to think carbs are bad and that if I avoided/limited them I would achieve something.  You disconnected me from my body by making me eat based on the calories and carb amount in food.  Now I eat based on cravings and every meal has carbs at it (EVERY MEAL) and I realize how important carbs are to have regularly. 

You taught me I should feel guilty if I found pleasure and enjoyment in food.  Now I find so much pleasure in food. 

You taught me that I would be most happy in a smaller body.  You taught me that thin was healthy.  Why did you lie? Why didn’t you tell me that there was a weight I would end up where I don’t have to feel crazy about food and movement and that, THAT weight is the healthiest for me?

I’m glad I’ve worked to develop the me I am now, the non-diet me.  You always filled me with dread and loneliness.  Everything with you seemed difficult.  Wearing a bathing suit, eating out with friends, having to buy a bigger pants size…you made everything seem so difficult when none of those things are things to get worked up over.  You made me panicked.  You made me anxious.  You made me feel like I didn’t know how to feed myself.  You kept me small and insecure.  I spent years being a pushover and would do whatever you asked, but I’m not a pushover anymore.   I flow now.  The world is more vibrant.  I get to experience joy more than ever before.

Being you taught me who I don’t want to be.  But I’m grateful you taught me what it feels like to live with you, so I can help others break-up with you too.


Happy to be done with you,

Non-diet mentality Kylie

Would love to hear anything you have to say to your disordered eating or eating disorder, whether your disordered behaviors are past or present.


  1. PREACH!!!

  2. Love this letter, and it absolutely hits home for me. If I were to write one, it would have to go… Dear Diet Mentality —
    Out of everything you took from me, the one that makes me angriest is how I still hesitate every time I’m invited to go somewhere with food. How dare you make me resent my mum’s artwork of a cheese platter for “ruining” my “healthy” day? How many conversations have I missed because 99% of my brain was obsessing over whether I ordered the “right” thing from the menu ALL night? And WHY do you find such relief whenever my plans get cancelled and instead I “get” to stay home and cook a “safe” meal for myself? Like seriously, that is the absolute lamest booby prize ever.

    If my boyfriend wants to try a new restaurant, or my best friend made her famous lasagne, or I’m supporting my niece’s bake sale … I want to relish the experience — company, food, love, and all. Whatever you think, the world is not out to sabotage me.

  3. Thank you so much for being willing to share your thoughts with us all! It is truly so helpful. I was wondering how you transitioned to the non diet mentality? Was it a gradual process, did someone say something to you, or did you just decide one day to change your lifestyle? Thank you for all you do!!

  4. Absolutely beautiful, Kylie. “You taught me that I would be most happy in a smaller body.” This was definitely me too, especially as a dancer. But being surrounded by so many beautiful and different dancing bodies has helped my mindset a LOT about looking a certain way. So much love for this and you!

  5. Totally agree! I get really uncomfortable around people who are dieting or stick to certain diet rules. I hate nothing more than when someone ruins a perfectly good meal with a discussion of calorie or fat content. Generally when it starts I just completely tune out or walk away from the conversation, rolling my eyes.  It’s just so strange how people continue to worship this thing that you and I both know had done horrible things to our own mental health. 

    • Right?!!! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been at an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics meeting with other dietitians and a diet dietitian will say something like, “well this certainly isn’t a low fat meal.” And I’m like, “omgsh why can’t you just enjoy the meal?! AND fat makes things taste good…I’m glad this isn’t a low fat meal.” I’ve had to stop going to those meetings bc I can’t take it. For awhile I tried to go and bring someone over to the non-diet side, but then I just got too annoyed.

  6. This is beautifully written, Kylie! I love it and agree totally. Having gone through similar things, this really struck a chord and made me teary! Thank you for sharing and doing the work you do.

  7. Kylie, thank you for your hard work on this site. You have really created something special here. I struggled with anorexia from 16-21 and then again in my mid-20s. I am in my mid-30s now and am no longer imprisoned by disordered eating. However, you are teaching me new ways to be more free and listen/respond more healthfully to my body. Thank you!

    • *by healthfully, I didn’t mean respond with a vegetable – I meant respond to what my body is telling me. I used to be so easily derailed by other people. Now, I listen to myself and tune other people out. I know what is right for me and I trust myself.

  8. Thank you for this post and all of your posts they are so helpful! I have been a college athlete for the past five years and my last season recently ended. Since then I have been nervous about gaining weight and eating too much, even though my diet mindset used to drive me crazy and made me a miserable person. It is easy for me to slip back into. This post was a great reminder that the diet mindset is not what I want and that I should continue the healthy mindset I have been able to develop. Thank you!

  9. Right now I’m transitioning into a non-diet mentality lifestyle, at first I found it kind of overwhelming because the first few weeks were spent eating loads and loads of food that I used to label as “bad”, but right now I’m starting to tune in into my body and eating what feels right when it feels right. But I have a question, what can I do if I’m currently living with somebody that’s totally stuck into the diet mentality and has a very disordered way of eating? It really is making me go crazy, but I don’t know what to do (and moving out is not an option, lol)

  10. I absolutely love this post!! I could write many things to my former self with her diet mentality, but I have to say I appreciate my journey, where I was, and how far I’ve come. I still have better days than others in terms of not letting negative self-talk creep in, but I so love and appreciate having this positive space to turn to for inspiration and support. Also, I saw your Ig Story about exciting changes being on the horizon – can’t wait to hear about them!

  11. First off- this post was absolutely amazing THANK YOU for it!!!! You continue to inspire me everyday. Every time I am having a bad moment/day, I come to your page and you always bring positive light. Ok… so heres a short version of my letter (that could be an essay lol)  

    To my disordered eating-
    Why did you let me think that these “clean eating” diets weren’t diets, but “lifestyles?” (hello paleo, vegan and clean eating) You kept me in the loop of food obsession for so long, thinking it was normal to open two hours at night stressing about the next day’s meals.
    Why did you make me think I had to lose weight to be accepted and loved? I know that friends, boyfriends, love and success do not come from being skinny. It comes from being confident and using that brain space to love others and become a better friend/sister/daughter etc, not obsess over my body and food (aka leading me to binges and a being in bad mood.)  
    I know you still creep up every once in a while. I know it is still hard sometimes to try on clothing that doesn’t fit/look the best, but I do thank you for leading me to my future. Thank you for forcing me to take care of myself and find ways to cope. It’s because of you that I am as strong minded and confident as I am today and I was able to leave a group of friends that didn’t make me happy. Thank you for exposing me to all the problems we have around food and body size in society so I can help others. So, thank you for that.
    xo, Rachel

  12. Heck yes! Loving this letter, and as usual, your mindset is so inspiring to me. I hope to be as free as you are some day. I have come a long ways, but I know I still have a lot of work to put in to continue to heal my relationship with my body and breakup from the diet-mentality for good. 

  13. This is exactly how I am feeling these days! I have now sustained the longest stent of choosing to “break up” with my personal diet brain after trying several times, and I am so so thankful to be able to reflect on just how that mentality was affecting every aspect of my life. I’m leaving on my honeymoon this weekend, and have been thinking HOLY CRAP am I glad to be able to enjoy food without feeling crazy or letting it ruin my trips now! I still have to work on choosing to stay away from my diet brain, but it’s getting easier and easier. So thankful for your voice in this field!

  14. Thank you sooooo much for this letter. It felt like you pulled it right out of me deep in my soul. I’ll be 50 this year and one of the greatest things I’ll be celebrating is saying so long to disordered eating!!!! My daughter is in her first year of MPH/RD program and she directed me to you. She’s helping me along my path and I’m forever thankful for the work you do and love you share! 

  15. Absolutely beautiful – your writing and the message. I’m still trying to get a better mindset in terms of listening to my body, but your blog always acts as a good reminder.

  16. Love your writing as always Kylie! I really love the idea of writing a letter to ‘diet mentality you’ and saying goodbye to all those unhealthy behaviours. I have to vent for a second, and also congratulate myself a little. Last week I interviewed for a dietetics job, and while the job wasn’t suitable financially, one of the main reasons I am not accepting the position is because the dietitian who runs the practice pushes weight loss and their ‘customised weight loss plan’. It took everything in me to not run screaming from the room when she started going on about how valuable weight loss is! Ahh!!! This is why I’m going to work for myself and spread the non diet/ intuitive eating fairy dust around!

  17. Hello Kylie and thank you for your blog, I discovered it thanks to your Instagram account, and I love surfing on it :) I suffer from anorexia since maybe more than 3 years. I mean, I try to recover since 2 and half years (if we forget the part where I was a bit forced to recover so, it was not really recovery) and I feel like I’m in a quasi-recovery thing. Like, I know how much I can eat without gaining weight (even if to have an healthy BMI I still have to gain X kilos), I manage to eat everything, going in a restaurant isn’t a fear anymore but I feel like I have to restrict before and all those kind of things that I think, you may know.
    Well, that’s not the topic, but indeed, I can’t bear this society, I feel ashame that I have to gain weight, I can’t see food in an other way of right or bad. And taht’s so annoying hearing my classmates talking about diets each day and tell me that I’m lucky to be thin. Oh really guys ? Come in my head a second, and you’ll see it’s not funny !
    I just wanted to ask you as I’m really trying to get better and following my cravings if it was okay to crave for carbs more than other stuff ? Like for dinner for example, I want to eat a biiiig plate of pastas or oven potatoes with carrot fries & brocoli ♥ but then I think that I have to eat a protein source or a fat source (like kidney beans or nuts) but it’s like I don’t crave for it. So what do I have to do ? I don’t want to think twice about what I’m eating as it is already hard enough to get rid of the diet mentality but I don’t want my body to be in lack of something…. I know the balance doesn’t have to be considered in one day but the voice in my head is screaming I do something wrong. HELP ME PLEASE ♥ (PS : I would like you to be my dietetician, you’ll help me so much more than mine ;) )

  18. I’ve been reading a lot of your posts through tears lately. In a lot of ways, I’ve never felt better in my entire life – I have a ton of energy, I’ve found ways to move that I genuinely love, I don’t count calories or anything like that… but I find myself a little obsessive about things. I am a full time working semi-adult, living with my parents and do most of the cooking. But when I do the cooking, I often find myself making two meals — one that my parents want and one that I deem “healthy” for myself (often times things they don’t like). I also find myself avoiding a lot of foods that I deem “unhealthy” and always find myself pouring over menus deciding what is the “healthiest” option. A really good friend at work made banana bread over the weekend and offered some to me and I froze. I haven’t had any kind of “treat” like that in so long, I wasn’t sure that I even COULD and awkwardly refused by changing the subject and not allowing myself to have it. I have a work outing later this week and I’m already anxious over the food that will be there and debating bringing my own snacks. I think it’s tough because there are so many conflicting messages out there. And it’s crazy because at work there are a few women in my area that talk about their diets of X calories per day and it makes my skin crawl. And yet here I am, not counting calories but judging a food based on my perception of it’s healthiness. Thanks for being so open and honest in all of these posts, I’m really trying to believe myself that I WANT to get past this “diet mentality” and that there is so much happiness on the other side.

    • Kate,

      I can relate to your comment about hating when others talk about counting calories but judging foods based on a perception of healthiness. That was definitely my biggest issue for several years. In my experience, I felt so much wiser than those calorie-counting people. I just knew what was the right food to eat so I didn’t have to count calories! <–That's sarcastic. My ED was never about counting calories but rather about obsessing over "clean" eating. I had a schedule for myself for when I could eat meals and snacks, and to most people, it probably just looked like I was trying to make "healthy" choices. It didn't look as obsessive on the outside as I sure felt on the inside. Even my closest friends don't know how disordered my thinking was, so it is still a challenge when I go out to eat, because they will make comments about my salad eating habits. It makes me feel like I have to get a salad to live up to their standards while at the same time wanting to get something else so that I can show them that I've changed my standards. The messages are so conflicting! Keep pushing through, girl!

  19. I love this! It’s so important to have a good relationship with food and your body. You go girl! Keep being such an inspiration!

  20. I love this so much. I wrote a similar letter to my ED when I was toward the end of my recovery and it was sooooo freaking empowering and cathartic for me!! This is beautiful and powerful. Something I wrote in my letter (that I keep in a note on my laptop to look back at when I’m having an off day) was this: “you made me feel like every step I took towards recovery was a failure, made me weak, and would leave me unlovable and unhappy. But you’re wrong. Every single step I take in recovering is a step away from YOU, a step towards becoming who I was created to be, and a step closer to freedom and TRUE happiness.” <3

  21. I love this post! I can’t even count how many social opportunities I turned down because I knew there would be certain kinds of food present that I didn’t think I was allowed to eat but wouldn’t be able to control myself. Years ago, on the night before a trip with two of my best friends I was on the floor crying because I knew I wouldn’t have full control over my meals. UGH! I appreciate your posts so much! One question I have is regarding the “life saver” you mentioned. What kind of comments do you make when people are talking like an eating disorder? I work with women (whom I really care about) who often talk about calories, fat, dieting, etc. I don’t know how to respond because I’m not on the same page as they are. One of them has recently started counting macros, and while a few good things have come from that (she’s commented how she’s eaten more food than she used to), it still feels off to me. Like you said, blasting them with information won’t do any good, but I don’t know what I can say when they are clearly seeking approval like, “Oh, good for you. Counting calories/macros is awesome…”

  22. This is so great. Wrote down parts I wanted to remember on sticky notes!

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  24. Your blog and your perspective on these things really resonates with me. I also enjoyed your instagram awhile back about the whole Shakeology program. I have one friend in particular that was “pushing play” at like 11p.m. the other night so she could get a workout in. I have such a hard time understanding this?? If someone wants to workout at midnight, fine, but its as if they are making into an obligation! I’m so glad for your perspective on things and to have your blog to remind me that working out and eating should be enjoyable! I was bullemic / overexcercising / undereating in high school / early college (over a decade and a half ago) and as a working mom with two kids I literally do not have time for this silliness anymore, but sometimes I feel like I should be trying harder to workout and be more fit. I often have to remind myself that just because I am not doing workout videos at midnight doesn’t mean that I”m not doing something (I am active, just not in the structured way I “used to be”). Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for reminding me and so many others to “own” their eating and fitness and not be defined by others and their diets and programs.

  25. You are seriously my favorite person in the world. Your Insta posts & stories, blog posts, recipes, etc. are hands down my favorite things to see pop up each day. I just feel like everything you do & say resonates with me 100%. You’ve taught me a lot and I’m thankful. You just make me happy Kylie. That is all :)

  26. Kylie,

    I wanted to say that your posts recently have been ON POINT. I identify with every word and thought and feel so validated in my own journey to recovery. You sharing your story gives me so much strength. Keep on doing what you’re doing for as long as you feel the inspiration and motivation :-)

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  29. How do I get away from diet mentality me?! I’m desperate for that kind of freedom.

    • Hey Kari, there’s a few options I’d recommend for helping you get away from the diet mentality!

      Option one: My How to Eat eCourse. You can buy the modules individually or all at once. This course covers what I cover in 10ish nutrition counseling sessions and can give you skills for getting out of the diet mentality.

      Option two: Podcasts! Seasons 1, 2 & 3 of Food Psych are awesome for moving you towards a more peaceful relationship with food.

      Most people don’t put in the work they need to, to have a less complicated relationship with food and their body. It’s totally possible with a bit of effort!

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