There has been a shift in thinking in weight management to avoid ‘dieting’ behaviours. It has been consistently shown in the research that dieting does not work long term, and there is usually a yo-yo effect in weight. To overcome this issue, it has been encouraged that we adopt healthy behaviours, and shift our thinking to focus on health outcomes, rather than just weight.
One of the main issues with traditional dieting is that foods are either classified as good or bad. So whilst we are on the diet, we have a number of foods that we are not allowed to eat. So naturally, all we think about is those foods and how much we want to eat them. Inevitably, we usually end up consuming these ‘bad’ foods, and end up feeling guilty about it. In terms of behaviours, when we are eating these foods we might eat them in secret, eat them quickly, so they are out of sight and we can hide the lapse in our diet, and there is an ‘oh-well, I’ve blown it’ response which causes us to eat even more seeing as we are on a roll. In the end, there is a cycle of restriction and over consumption. This cycle makes people feel really bad about themselves and causes us to not trust our own judgement, as we are ‘failing’ constantly.
Quite often I hear the phrase ‘I’ve failed every diet I’ve ever tried’. My response to this is that in actual fact, the diets have FAILED YOU. They promised results and they promise that you will feel good and that you will change your life, but it hasn’t happened. The products that you have bought, or meal plan you have followed hasn’t been sustainable, realistic or effective.
So what’s the answer? Not dieting!! The key issue that was identified with dieting behaviours is that they restrict certain foods, and that you don’t trust yourself. The first step to changing this is to trust your own body. Listen to your hunger and fullness cues. When you are about to eat, ask yourself if you are actually hungry, and whether the food that you are about to eat will actually satisfy you. If you find that you are eating because you are stressed, sad or bored, rather than hungry, find something else to help you cope with these emotions. If you are eating something you don’t really want, you will end up eating that food, PLUS the food you actually feel like. For example, you might really be craving ice cream, but you think you shouldn’t have it so you have some crackers and cheese. You eat the crackers and cheese while thinking about how much you wish you were eating ice cream, and then end up eating the ice cream too. If you trusted yourself, you could have a small scoop of ice cream, eat it slowly and love every minute of it, feel really satisfied and happy and go on with your day.