Are you tired of dieting, restricting your food intakes and counting calories all the time? If your answer is ‘Yes’, then this post is for you and if your answer is a ‘No’, this post is still for you as you might help someone around you.
The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide and the global weight loss products and services market has grown exponentially in the last few years and this growth is expected to continue. The global market for weight loss products and services should grow to reach $377.3 billion by 2026.
The diet culture could be defined as: a system of beliefs, customs, messages and behaviours, that places value and focus on weight, shape and size over and above health and well-being. This diet culture makes us believe that our weight and size is the ULTIMATE measure of our worth as a human being and is a direct indicator of our health. But this is not true!
The scale is a machine and weight, that figure on the scale, is just a number. It cannot define your health or how fit you are. It can’t tell you how much weight you can lift or how far you can run. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, it’s much more interesting to pay attention to numbers like waist circumference, blood sugar level, lipid profile, number of steps, sleeping time, screen time, water consumption, alcohol amount, blood pressure and number of cigarettes per day.
We are always being bombarded with the promises of a better life tied to a tiny body size and believed that dieting will help in reducing the body size. But there are SO many problems with dieting, any form of food restriction including cleanses and fasting. Here’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why diets don’t work in the long run:
- Diets are not sustainable.
You make drastic changes that aren’t sustainable when you’re “off” the diet. Well, yes diets will help you lose weight at first, that is in the short-term, diets work. But this lost is not sustainable as research showed that 95% of people who diet end up gaining the weight that they lost back. And of that 95%, about two thirds will gain more weight than they started out at. And then begins the vicious restrict/binge, yo-yo dieting cycle which is actually more harmful to our health than just staying at a higher weight. So far, we don’t have any study on the long-term effects of a diet past six years (if you know of one, please let me know!) that shows people were able to maintain the diet and their weight loss for over six years.
- Diets cause you to binge eat.
Unconsciously you become preoccupied with food and this can lead to intense cravings or binges. Many people think their binging is purely emotional but no, most of the time it is actually a biological reaction to deprivation. Yes, our body is just amazing and it releases chemicals to make us think about food during period of starvation. That is when you are getting enough calories and nutrients, the brain will release a chemical called neuropeptide Y (NPY) which will in turn increase your motivation to eat and delays satiety leading us eating more which can feel like a binge. It is important to note that this is not an issue of control. It is literally a chemical survival mechanism our bodies have to keep us alive and well and in a state of homeostasis/balance. Dieting and food restriction, aka not getting enough energy and enough carbohydrates, cause us to binge.
- Diets increase food cravings.
Dieting involves food restriction and whenever a food is off limits, like chocolate, your brain is going to register that chocolate as even more pleasurable than if it wasn’t restricted. Because as humans, we are driven by our unmet needs. Just like if you put a 3 years old boy in a room filled with toys and you tell them you can play with any toy in this room except for this red truck, guess which toy they’re going to want to play with? That same red toy which you kind of restricted him to play with. Same idea with food. If you tell yourself a certain food is “bad” or off limits, that is going to be the food that you’re thinking about and craving. It’s basically the bad boy effect – we want the thing that we tell ourselves isn’t good for us. It creates this allure and appeal. I love chocolate and I do eat chocolate 🙂
It’s time to let go of the diet mentality and heal your relationship with food. It can be a long journey to truly embrace a more intuitive form of eating that provides the nourishment your body needs AND the satisfaction it deserves to support overall health and happiness.
Here are a few tips for getting started:
- Instead of relying on diet to tell you when, what and how much to eat, tune in to your body’s own hunger and fullness cues. Eat slowly, with attention. Pay attention to the taste, texture and flavours of what your food.
- Do not punish yourself with exercise for overeating. Punishing yourself with exercise creates a negative association and takes the joy out of movement. Make a list of all the positive benefits of exercise and how it makes you feel.
- Try not to skip meals and most importantly, don’t punish yourself for eating a “forbidden food” by skipping meals. Skipping a meal can actually backfire on you by impairing focus and concentration and can also leads to an increase in fat cravings!
- Let go of obsessing over food. This will allow you to approach eating with balance, variety and moderation and free up your mind for more enjoyable activities!
- Last but not the least, let go of guilt. Stop labeling yourself and the food you eat as good or bad. Know that there are no ‘forbidden foods’ as such.Food is just food and you are so much more than a number on a scale or the last meal you ate.
It’s always best to work on yourself to create healthy habits and not restrictions. Diets don’t work and weight is just a number and cannot define your health. It can’t tell you about your increased self-esteem, as you begin taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle. It does not define your worthiness.
Do check our new online group coaching program – the Food Freedom Journey if you feel like you need a push to improve your relationship with food.
You are beautiful the way you are, you just need to focus on nourishing your body smartly 🙂.
Eat Smart. Be Healthy.