I HATE the word diet! At least in the context that most people use it. Diets and dieting are synonymous with restriction, deprivation and suffering. If diets conjure up such a negative state and perception, is it any wonder that they don’t work – at least not for very long. If they did work, wouldn’t everyone be lean and healthy? Of course, the opposite is true in that the obesity epidemic is in full bloom. Despite an explosion of diet gurus and government programs to combat the problem, the rate of obesity has only risen (and continues to rise).
I’d say it’s time for a reality check!
Who doesn’t know someone on a diet right now? The average person will cycle through multiple diet schemes in the course of their lifetime and get the same results almost every time. Plateaus and rapid weight regain are the typical results one might expect from a diet cycle. So if you take the deprivation and suffering that one expects to endure from dieting and multiply that by the the depression and despair felt when the diet fails, we have a real problem on our hands.
Being stressed and depressed are emotional states which inevitably lead to illness and dysfunction. What’s even worse is that every time a new diet is introduced, and failure results, a new layer of self-esteem is stripped away, like an onion, from the individual, until nothing remains but shame and self-loathing.
So why do people put themselves through this nonsense in the first place?
The chronic dieter’s mindset is the problem. If not addressed, a chronic dieter will experience a never ending pendulum of deprivation and binging that will ultimately become a lifestyle. The key is changing one’s beliefs. Chronic dieters get into trouble because they:
- Believe food is their enemy and that weight loss is a battle.
- Are emotional eaters. Food serves as a means of comfort, distraction, medication and punishment.
- Subscribe to constant recycling of old dieting trends.
- Don’t allow themselves to make any choices. They let the diet make the choices for them.
- Are out of touch with their own sense of physical hunger.
- Decide to lose weight for external reasons (ie. because their doctor, loved one or society says so)
Let’s face it, diets aren’t natural. We are happiest when our needs are being met and anything that prevents this cannot be continued for very long. Even if someone has had success on a diet before, I’ll ask them this – if it worked so well before why are you still struggling to lose weight now?
It’s not a lack of willpower at work here, it’s the fundamental fact that diets fail. People don’t fail – diets do. A successful diet is one that can be adopted forever and that doesn’t leave the person feeling deprived over long stretches of time. So how can someone empower themselves to get off the weight loss roller-coaster, empower themselves to eat sensibly and never diet again?
The Successful Dieter’s Creed
1. Thou shalt establish realistic expectations
Chronic dieters have high weight loss expectations but seldom want to do the work to achieve it. Even the best commercial weight loss programs only result in a loss of 10-15% of an individual’s starting weight. While this is great, it’s nowhere near what most dieters expect. Television has warped public perception to the point where anything less than a 50% weight loss (from the starting weight) is deemed a failure.
Successful eaters don’t have rigid ideas of success. They understand that weight loss is a gradual process and that rapid fat loss methods cannot be maintained. They don’t subscribe to the all or nothing approach. They know that if they eat well 80% of the time, the other 20% doesn’t have much impact on the plan.
2. Thou shalt take charge of what, when and how much to eat
Successful eaters listen to their body by responding to internal cues of hunger, fullness and comfort. Dieters who fail are those who respond to emotional triggers and are usually completely out of touch with the physical cues that govern hunger.
Do you know who the best eaters are? Infants. Infants innately know when they are hungry and full and they respond accordingly. When was the last time you saw a baby eat when it was full? OK, maybe my mother might raise her hand here. But seriously, somewhere along the way many of us have lost touch with this basic instinct. Chronic dieters attempt to ignore these cues in hopes that their willpower alone will deliver change. Willpower is like a muscle, it gets tired and will eventually succumb to the strain placed upon it by deprivation.
Successful eaters document their eating habits in a food journal. One that chronicles not only the foods they eat, but the triggers and feelings they experience before and after the meal. By paying attention to details like this, a chronic dieter can identify negative patterns and work to change them.
3. Thou shalt love all food without guilt
Successful eaters view food as their ally in life’s journey. They savor, enjoy and celebrate food and never even consider removing it. They don’t view food as “good” or “bad”, because they know almost every food has its place in a healthy diet. They enjoy parties and social gatherings and engage in all types of food without anxiety or guilt. They’ve learned to listen to their body’s physical cues to set boundaries and moderate their food intake.
4. Thou shalt honor thy meal time
Successful eaters make meal preparation and consumption a sacred event. They never eat on the go, skip meals or eat while distracted (i.e. watching T.V). Studies have shown that there is less brainwave activity watching television than when you are sleeping. We all know that eating and watching television are a deadly combination.
Successful eaters have a DEP (designated eating place) where they can enjoy a meal in peace and quiet. Perhaps at the dining room table where the internal hunger cues can be heard without distraction. It’s important to have all meals in this place to develop this routine.
5. Thou shalt embrace my shape and focus on becoming healthier
Modern society’s focus on unnatural physiques has perpetuated an image of what a man or woman should aspire to look like. Trends will always change and people need to understand that the people inspiring these “trends” are in the top 1% for that particular look. Very few women are genetically capable of achieving the physique of a runway model or fitness model, and no amount of hard work or plastic surgery can change that.
For the other 99%, comparing yourself to, and striving to look like, someone else will most likely result in disappointment and despair. Successful eaters shift the focus on health first, knowing that a lean and energized body will soon follow. They strive to eat well for personal reasons such as ‘to feel better about themselves’, ‘to be healthier’ and ‘to feel confident about the way they look’ and never because someone told them they should.
If you’re hellbent on taking onus off yourself and riding the never ending popular diet bandwagon,
Please consider the following before selecting a diet –
If what you’re eating cannot sustain you for the rest of your life or maintain an optimum level of vitality, health and performance, then it’s NOT a good diet. This includes health focused contest diets used by natural bodybuilders.
- If you ate the way the diet book recommended for the rest of your life, what would happen?
- Is the diet wholesome and designed for long-term health and biological function?
- Could it satisfy the requirements of a hard working athlete?
- Could you eat nothing but eggs and grapefruit forever (or whatever) without creating a micro nutrient deficiency?
It’s time to empower ourselves to eat properly. Forget the diets. Forget the commercial, corporate and conventional maze of deceit. Learn to regain what we’ve lost as a society – our basic intuition for knowing when and what to eat. Until we can do this, our nation’s weight problem will never be solved and the corrupt weight loss industry will continue to flourish from our ignorance.If you enjoyed this article, please quickly do me a favor and share with others and comment below.