The world of dieting seems to be filled with rules and regulations. Eat this. Not that. This is good for you. This is bad for you. This counts. This doesn’t. Willpower is a must. Failure is always lurking. Everywhere you look there are things you can succeed or fail at. Judgment abounds.

It is common to see the question, “Is this compliant?” about food on social media. And the comments section will explode with responses from the kind to the derogatory; some right, some wrong, some just really ill-informed. Often it dissolves into arguments between strangers decreeing what is and is not okay to ingest and calling each other stupid (or worse).

Eating is not that complicated. We don’t need to feel guilty or be berated about it. What you eat is a choice. Some people have decided to make it a conscious choice. And how they make that choice is up to them and depends on their goals.

Believing you have to be “compliant” to a set of diet regulations or you are a failure leads to feelings of deprivation, lack, frustration and overwhelm. None of those emotions are good for making healthy choices. In fact, they are likely to make you give up and binge eat.

What if we made choices from a place of knowledge and desired outcomes? When you know how eating a specific thing will benefit or harm your health and your goals, you can decide what is right for you in that moment. If you track how often you make a choice that does align with where you want to go, you can start to see patterns and address them. All those bits of knowledge allow you to consciously adjust. No wailing or gnashing of teeth, “compliance” to outside rules or food police needed.

Here is an example from my life: Sometimes I decide I want to have a chocolate chip cookie (You likely know this about me). I am well aware that the butter, eggs and sugar in it are not a healthy choice. I also know that eating a single chocolate chip cookie once every few months is not the end of the world; because it is a rare event. The vast majority of the time I make amazing health choices. Sometimes I think, “hmmm, a cookie would be good.” But I decide not to have one. When I do decide to have one, I ENJOY it without even the slightest bit of guilt. Because it’s not about compliance, it’s about choice.

Interestingly, there are some people (often the person who feels the most guilt about their food choices) who will make obnoxious comments about me eating a cookie. “I thought you were vegan.” (I’m not) “I thought you were a health nut.” (I’m not) “You tell people to eat healthy and you’re eating a cookie?” (I don’t tell anyone to eat or not eat anything. I share information to allow people to make informed choices.)

I just smile and say, “Ninety-nine point nine percent of time I make food choices based on nutrition knowledge and my desire to live a long healthy life. Right this moment, I’m enjoying a cookie. But thank you for your concern about my wellbeing.”

That’s what empowerment looks like. And it works.

Are you ready to break free from restrictive diets and finally base what you eat on knowledge rather than rules? Email Dr Robyn at to book a jumpstart consultation today.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at