I’m going to give you the first step: Stop Dieting
That’s not possible! Really? How can I do that? I’m going to get so fat! Those are some of the answers I usually get when I encourage my friends to step away from the dieting mentality.
Let’s think about it together; ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you been on a diet on the past year?
- How many different diets have you tried on the past year?
I would guess that all of you said Yes to the first question and at least 3 to the second one.
Wondering how I knew that? Let’s keep going:
- How did you felt while doing the diets?
- Did you lose weight?
- Did you maintain the weight loss for more than six months?
- Did you attempt to do another diet during the six months after the last one?
- Did you gain the weight back? How did you felt?
Now, let’s see if I can get these answers closer to yours:
- You probably felt a little sluggish at the beginning of the diet, with low energy, you were all day preoccupied thinking about what you are going to eat next, you weren’t in your greatest mood, and you didn’t enjoy going out to eat and spend quality times with your friends and family
- Of course, you lost weight, your friends and family told you how skinny and great you looked, and you were the happiest
- Probably no
- Yes, of course, you saw a juice cleanse diet on Instagram and thought that it could work better for you than the low carb diet you did before
- Yes, after restricting yourself of certain foods for so long while dieting, you found yourself binge eating it, gained back the weight, and felt frustrated.
If I got the answers to these questions closer to yours, I want to tell you not to worry, we all have been there, and it’s incredible that you are taking a step forward to learn how you can stop this vicious cycle.
Are you still hesitating about the idea of letting go of diets? Let’s dig in a little on the current research. Weight regain is generally the rule, with one‐third to two‐thirds of the weight lost being regained within 1 year (if you lost 10lb, you would regain 6lb within 1 year), and almost all is regained within 5 years. Studies have found that Dieting during childhood and adolescence is the strongest predictor of future weight gain and obesity.
I know you may be feeling confused and frustrated with this information. I want to give you a tool to help you shift your diet mentality away from external cues that affect how and what we eat (measuring foods and weight scales) towards your internal cues (hunger and satiety cues). You may have heard of it, Intuitive Eating.
Intuitive eating is more complex than you may think, and it required going through a series of steps and processes. As I don’t want to overwhelm you, I am just going to tell you the first aspect you need to work one, which may sound scary to do, rejecting your dieting mentality. To do so, you will need to acknowledge the damage that diets are having on you, being aware of your diet mentality traits and thinking and of your surroundings, get rid of dieting tools (ex: scale), and always be compassionate with yourself.
Being in tune with your body is not something you are going to achieve from one day to another, but with the appropriate tools and support system, I can guarantee you that it’s going to be worth it.
If you want to get more information on Intuitive Eating, I strongly suggest you get your hands on the Intuitive Eating book by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Get it at Amazon here.
By: Gabriela Cohen
Dulloo, A. G., & Montani, J.-P. (2015). Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview. Obesity Reviews, 16, 1–6. doi: 10.1111/obr.12250
Lowe, M. R. (2015). Dieting: proxy or cause of future weight gain? Obesity Reviews, 16, 19–24. doi: 10.1111/obr.12252
Mann, T., Tomiyama, A. J., Westling, E., Lew, A.-M., Samuels, B., & Chatman, J. (2007). Medicares search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. American Psychologist, 62(3), 220–233. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.62.3.220
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating: a revolutionary program that works. New York: St. Martins Griffin