From a young age I was convinced that my life would be better if I was thinner. Determined to weigh less, I started dieting. Each diet would start off well but after weeks of denial and deprivation, my desperation for food (that wasn’t corn thins or carrot sticks) drove me to eat everything in sight.
Unfortunately, my experience with dieting is widespread.
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According to Australia’s National Nutrition Survey, more than 2.3 million Aussie’s over the age of 15 are on a diet to lose weight or to improve their health. The problem with diets is that they simply don’t work – not in the long-term at least.
Losing weight is relatively easy, however losing weight and maintaining that loss is extremely hard. In fact, only 5% of people who go on a diet manage to keep off the weight after two years. Not a very good success rate if you ask me.
Whilst diets promise incredible results, they rarely deliver. After a diet failure, you are likely to feel hurt and blame your ‘poor willpower’ or ‘busy lifestyle’ for the weight regain rather than the diet. In truth, it was the diet that failed – not you.
If you feel out of control around food, binge or engage in emotional eating, it is likely you feel deprived of certain foods because of a diet. Unfortunately, emotional and binge eating almost impossible to overcome if you continue to diet.
Ultimately, there is no one magic bullet or ‘ideal’ weight loss diet. The key to long term weight loss is to find what works for your body, create a supportive environment and work with your body, not against it. Be realistic about weight loss, aiming to drop around half to one kilogram a week, be as active as you can every day, and take on eating habits you can live with. Avoid fad or ‘quick fix’ diets that ban entire food groups. Ask yourself “Can I eat like this for the rest of my life?”.
This year, ditch fad diets and focus on achieving healthy eating habits and a healthy weight by making changes they can keep up long-term. It is possible to adopt an intuitive approach to health and create a body you truly love by ditching the diet and by listening to your bodies natural hunger cues.
To regain control around food and stay motivated, you need to stop counting calories and start counting nutrients. By refocusing your attention on your health as opposed to your weight you will eat more intuitively and without guilt and shame.
When you stop dieting and begin to listen to your body (instead of fighting against or punishing it) then your body supports you, and that’s really your perfect diet. It is an important mindshift and one that can have profound benefits. When I decided to quit dieting and began focusing on my health instead of the size of my jeans, I lost 20kg without really trying. By focusing on my health instead of my weight and ditching the diet, I not only lost weight but food became pleasurable again and my health has never been better.
Further reading and references:
– Read ‘Health at Every Size’ by Dr Linda Bacon or find an Accredited Practising Dietitian who practices a non-dieting approach to health.
– Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics; 2014