Diets don’t work, but there’s a whole multi-billion dollar industry that profits from convincing us that they do.
Don’t believe anything they say and don’t trust anything they try to sell you. These companies make their money from our continuing failed diets. Their job is to make money, not to tell us the truth.
It is not your fault if you struggle to lose weight. It is not your fault if you struggle to keep weight off. It is not a failing.
We all have that skinny friend who eats like a horse and never seems to gain weight! This is why…
Willpower is only a tiny percentage of what is involved in weight loss. There are many genetic factors that determine our food preferences, how often and at what times you get hungry and how much food you need to eat to feel full, your metabolism, and your pleasure response to food. When we diet we change those genetic factors for the worse: our metabolism changes, we feel hungrier, food becomes more attractive and we think about it more often, and the feelings of reward from eating increase.
But it’s not all bad news, in fact we can look at it as a positive thing!
We all have a weight range that we naturally fall into and this weight range is, for the most part, determined by genetic factors. Our weight range has upper and lower limits and our ideal goal weight might fall too far outside of that. By aiming for the lower end of our biological weight range we can achieve our healthiest and leanest natural weight – and we don’t need to diet to achieve it. We can enjoy the freedom of knowing that diets and media pressure to conform to an ideal weight is utter bullshit!
Unfortunately, there’s no scientific way to work out our natural weight range, but a good rule of thumb is that it’s the weight we seem to settle at after a couple of months of healthy living.
So what is healthy living? And if you’re already living healthily but carrying too much excess weight what do you do?
Little steps and small behaviour changes all add up…
1. Don’t cut out the foods you love
Avoiding foods because they’re ‘bad’ for you will only make them seem more attractive and more difficult to resist. There is no need cut out these foods, but we can cut back on them by making them more difficult to access. Putting the cookie jar in a high place so that we have to use a chair or step to reach them cuts down our consumption of them by half!
2. Eat veggies first
When you are cooking for yourself, put vegetables on your plate and eat them first before you put other food on your plate. Not only will you be getting in your daily veggie quota (and all the good vitamins and fibre from them), you will often be cutting down on calories by filling up more on the lower calorie stuff first.
When eating at a restaurant, ask the waiter not to bring a bread basket. Order a side of veggies or green salad as a starter and eat that before moving on to anything else.
Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, before and during meals. The feelings of thirst and hunger are very similar and we often mix them up. So make sure you are always well hydrated and you’ll be less likely to confuse thirst for hunger and overeat.
4. Enjoy your food
Whatever you’re eating, eat slowly and savour it. Consciously think about the textures and tastes, put away any distractions like the phone, and put your cutlery down between mouthfuls.
Paying attention to our food while we’re eating leaves us feeling more satisfied and less likely to overeat. When we are having cravings for a food, they are usually satisfied by just having a taste of that food, so eat slowly and stop when you are satisfied. Eating slowly and mindfully also gives us time to register when we are full, which in turn makes us less likely to overeat.
5. A word about comfort eating…
Foods don’t actually make us feel better, though it may seem like it at the time. Studies have shown that it’s actually the passing of time that improves our mood not the food. So a stressed person who eats comfort food and feels better after 5 minutes will have the same mood increase as a stressed person who didn’t eat the comfort food but waited 5 minutes.
If you want to eat the food, go ahead and do it knowing it was a conscious decision and not controlled by a bad mood. Enjoy the freedom of knowing you are in control, not your emotions.
6. Don’t be fooled
Next time you see a fad diet hitting the media with impressive before and after photos and endorsements, keep in mind that these dieters are in the honeymoon period of their diet. Unfortunately, 95% of them would have regained that lost weight within a year. For the 5% who do keep the a lot of weight off long term, their lives become dedicated to dieting and fighting their natural biology.