Why diets are doomed to fail (and what to do about it)

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We’ve all been there – a high school reunion or vacation is coming up and we want to lose weight, and we want to lose it now!  So, we do the latest diet fad, and guess what?  It works! At least short term.  We lose weight, and feel great about ourselves, then we go off the diet.  Then what?  Well, we gain the weight back (and maybe a little extra).   Most people repeat the cycle over and over.

Here’s why it’s a problem:

Every time you lose weight, whether on a juice detox or a low carb diet, you not only lose fat, but you lose supporting structures, like muscle and bone.  Remember that muscle helps us burn calories, so when you lose muscle, you slow down your metabolism.  That makes it even HARDER to lose the weight the next time (and if you are dieting, there will inevitably be a next time).

When you restrict food, you cause your body to store fat more readily when the diet is over, because calorie restriction causes enzymes that store fat to double – this is one of the ways the body protects us from starvation.  You also increase cravings and increase the chance of binge eating or other disordered eating patterns.  Chronic dieting is also linked with heart disease and increased abdominal fat.

I think it’s best summed up in the book, “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, both Registered Dietitians, “Our need for food (energy) is so essential and primal that if we are not getting enough energy, our bodies naturally compensate with powerful biological and psychological mechanisms.”  I highly recommend their book.

The solution?

  • Get off the dieting roller coaster.
  • Savor your food, and eat mindfully, not in front of TV or in the car
  • Give yourself permission to eat all foods.  There are no “forbidden” foods
  • Eat when you are somewhat hungry (but not ravenous)
  • Listen to your body throughout the meal, and stop eating when you are full (this gets easier when you know that you can eat what your body needs).

 

 

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