You’re standing in front of the mirror having changed your clothes three times already this morning. Nothing seems to fit right. You are discouraged and start with the negative self-talk you are all too familiar with. “Why can’t I just stick to my diet”, you say to yourself. “I am such a failure; I will never succeed at weight loss”. “Tomorrow I will start my diet again”.
Does this sound familiar to you? If you have been battling your weight for some time, then likely you have been on countless diets that have not worked long term and you have gotten very good at berating yourself for your failures. The commercials all sound so promising! The radio ads promise fat burning powers of the miracle pills you just bought at the health food store. Why aren’t you able to lose weight?
The answer lies in the fact that you are dieting.
Let me repeat that!
The answer lies in the fact that you are dieting.
You see, nobody lives on a diet. One goes on a diet but eventually goes off the diet.
The Stats You Know
Forty to 50% of American women are trying to lose weight and are on a diet at any point in time. Half of pre-teen and teenage girls are on diets. However, 95% -97% of all dieters regain their lost weight and more within 1 to 5 years.
These are very alarming statistics because dieting clearly doesn’t work and repeated “yo-yo” dieting has been shown to have negative health effects, including an increased risk of heart disease and long-lasting effects on the metabolism.
The Side Effects of Dieting
Dieting makes you preoccupied with food; what you ate yesterday, this morning, 1 hour ago, and what you will eat later and tomorrow. Dieting makes food the enemy and causes guilty feelings when you don’t eat diet-type foods.
When you go on a diet, you are in essence putting your body into a short-term starvation state. When given the first opportunity to really eat what you desire, you will often experience a feeling of such intensity that any initial thoughts of wanting to be thin fly out the window. You feel out of control, guilty, and view yourself as having no willpower.
However, listen up!
This type of eating in response to semi-starvation is actually normal. It has nothing to do with willpower! When you are underfed, you will obsess about food. Period!
The best solution to achieving peace with food and your body is to embrace an intuitive eating approach to food. Intuitive eating is eating based on your physiological hunger and satiety cues not based on situations or emotional cues. So, that means eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied or comfortably full.
Now, I recognize that for the chronic yo-yo dieter, this is not necessarily easy. It requires you to explore how you got to where you are today in your eating habits and understand deeply what it means to become an intuitive eater. During this process, it is important for you to begin to get rid of the diet mentality that you have, and to truly believe that you will never diet again. If you continue to think there is “just one more diet, this time I’ll be good”, then you won’t be able to move forward to becoming an intuitive eater. You will continue to have foods that are “good” and “bad” and you will continue to think of yourself as being “on” or “off”.
To help you get started on the path of intuitive eating, commit to the following 3 steps:
- Throw out all the diet books and pre-printed menus from magazines that you have tried over the years. Make a commitment to yourself that you will no longer be tempted by new diets that come out because you are committed to learning to listen to your body.
- Get rid of the bathroom scale. Do you weigh yourself every morning or even several times per day? Does the number on the scale influence your mood for the day? Most likely it does, even if you don’t consciously realize it. Your weight fluctuates day to day and is a measure of more than just fat. It includes your bones, organs, muscle and substances such as water, food and waste that pass through your system. Begin to measure your success by other factors other than the scale such as improved blood work, blood pressure, mood, energy level and overall satisfaction with your progress toward becoming an intuitive eater.
- Seek out caring support to help you on your journey. Becoming an intuitive eater is a process and the amount of time it takes will depend on how long you have been dieting, how strong your diet mentality is, how long you have been using food to cope with your emotions and how willing you are to trust yourself. It is very important for you to surround yourself with like-minded people who can provide positive feedback and support.
You were born with the natural instinct to eat when hungry and stop when full. Chances are you lost this ability due to all the diets you tried and the media exposure to quick-fixes. You can reclaim what you were born with and achieve guilt-free eating, a body you love and a life free of dieting. Intuitive eating is the answer you have been looking for.
Reach out to me if you are interested in going from Dieter to Intuitive Eater! There’s no shame in asking for help!