One of my favorite sayings is by Totie Fields: “I’ve been on adiet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is two weeks.” Diets put yourlife on hold, erode self-esteem, cause food obsessions, decreasemetabolism, cause stress … I could go on and on. In a nutshell,diets do NOT work and, indeed, can be harmful. But as long asthere’s money to be made, there will always be a new gimmick ordiet for a quick-weight-loss fix. I recently read that Americansspend an estimated $42 billion annually on weight loss food,products and services, but obviously they aren’t working. Manypeople believe that going on a diet is the only way to lose weight,but in reality going on a diet will cause you to gain weight in thelong run.
Typically, weight loss advertisements make promises that are toogood to be true. The use of false or misleading claims is rampant,and you typically see the claims listed below in advertising forthe newest fad diet:
Promises fast weight loss.
Asks for money and typically has a “money-back guarantee”.
Requires you to eat less than 1,000 calories daily.
Requires you to buy a vitamin/mineral supplement or foodproduct.
Lacks long-term scientific studies proving the diet works andis safe. Some fad diets state there’s research to support theirclaims, but the research is only done with a few people or doesn’texist.
Eliminates an essential nutrient (carbohydrates, fats,proteins).
No activity or exercise needed.
It’s written by someone with no expertise in weightmanagement.
Most diets will produce an initial quick weight loss (usuallywater weight), which makes the dieter think that the diet was asuccess, and it’s their fault the weight was gained back. So thedieter will go back on the diet, vowing that “this time” they’llsucceed, only to gain the weight back again. In reality, it’s thediet that’s setting the person up for failure. Once you believethis, it becomes easier to reject the diet mentality.
So, how do you reject the diet mentality? The first step is torecognize and acknowledge the damage that dieting causes. There’s agreat deal of research that shows the harm that dieting causes,both biological and psychological.
Be aware of diet-mentality traits and thinking. Forget aboutwillpower, being obedient and failing. Following a diet’s rulesdoesn’t give you control; it only sets you up to lose control andto rebel by eating even more than you would if you never went onthe diet in the first place.
Get rid of the dieter’s tools. Get rid of meal plans, diet booksand, most importantly, the scale. Too much power is given to thescale, and weighing in only serves to keep you focused on yourweight, not your health, which is the most important thing.
Practice intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is what you did as akid: you ate when you were hungry, and you stopped when you werefull ” simple as that. When we become adults, many things happen inour lives that cause the intuitive eater to become buried, and welose the ability to listen to our body’s hunger and fullness cues.Once you start practicing intuitive eating again, it becomes easierto listen to these signals, which in turn makes you lesspreoccupied with food and less likely to engage in emotionaleating.
Get started with intuitive eating by gauging your hunger on a1-10 hunger scale. Ideally, you should eat when your hunger is at a3-4. Using this scale will help you become more in tune with yourhunger signals. When you do eat, discover the satisfaction factorby allowing yourself to enjoy every morsel of food you eat. Takeyour time, taste every bite and you’ll find it becomes much easierto stop when you’re full. Remind yourself that it’s OK to leavesome food on your plate. Also, make peace with food by trustingyourself to eat any food you want and stop restricting. Ironically,once you truly know you can eat whatever you want, the intense needto binge greatly diminishes.
Most importantly, remember to respect your body and appreciateeverything that it does for you. Awaken your intuitive eater, stoplistening to the lies that the diet industry is telling you andtake responsibility for your health by honoring it with goodnutrition and daily physical activity. It’s a new year and a newyou.