Don’t Diet! And here’s why.
I think it’s important that you know these things about dieting, so you can make decisions about the way you eat that take the best care of you. I’m not sure how to organize them, so here’s a list.
Dieting sets up the Last Supper Eating dynamic. You’re going to start a diet tomorrow, so you eat like a fiend today. This eating comes from a place of desperation, and feels out-of-control.
Dieting is Restriction, and the pendulum will typically swing back to a Binge. I call this a Food Temper Tantrum. Someone has told you that you can’t eat something, and you rebel. There’s actual science on this: “Responses to chocolate restriction in frequent chocolate consumers”.
Dieting leads to Fixation. When you’re told you can’t eat something, it becomes all you think about. The cravings become all consuming. (half-hearted attempt at pun, get it?) Good science on this one, too, a study on food cravings and low-carb diets.
Dieting leads to Hunger. When you’re not getting enough food – in volume and/or variety – you get hungry. Your body will want to eat. It can be pretty insistent and seemingly irrational. It’s going to want fast energy – and that’s always going to be refined carbohydrates. No time to work through protein and fat, it wants the quick hit of easy to digest glucose. Cakes, cookies, ice cream, chips, pasta, bread, crackers… all those foods most dieters try to avoid. Hunger is going to make your cravings for those foods maddening!
Hunger leads to Obsession. When you’re hungry (see above), your very basic body machine is going to take over your thinking and focus on food all the time. Diet culture often calls this being addicted to food, but I’d suggest that if you are restricting your food intake, the obsession and compulsion you’re feeling are symptoms of hunger.
Dieting lays the rules for Pass/Fail Eating. Ever have a rule about something, break the rule, and then figure since you’ve failed you might as well go completely off the (eating) rails? It’s this dynamic that’s going to set you up for compulsive overeating every time.
Forbidden Fruit: diets have lists of foods you’re not allowed to eat. Now you focus on those foods all the time, they get sexier, bigger than life, more desirable. And from there every one of the eating dysfunctions listed above swing into gear.
So, dieting = less eating = more eating.
Most people diet to lose weight. But what do you really lose?
What to do?
Stop dieting. Move beyond having someone else tell you what, when, and how much to eat.
You don’t need more restriction or will power, you need to get to know yourself and what you need. You have all the information you need to take good of yourself with food, the nutrient dense kind as well as the delicious treats. It’s a matter of shifting your priorities, slowing down, and learning to trust and rely on your body.
Get in touch with your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. Come to recognize real satisfaction from food. These are the basics of Intuitive Eating, which in my experience, is a fundamental exercise in being true to yourself.
From there you can truly feel good about the way you eat and most importantly, will feel good yourself and your choices, always, all the time. And if you can have these kinds of skills with food, which you get to practice several times a day, every single day, imagine how that will impact the way you interact with other people, with work, in every aspect of your life?
What do you think about getting off the Diet Rollercoaster? Drop a comment and let me know! And/or get the newsletter