From a young age we are taught to equate food with success and view it as a reward. To top it off, women especially are taught primary by the media that their bodies are supposed to look a certain way. This is not a good combo and is causing many issues in our society today.
Yes, food should be pleasurable but it should also be viewed as what it is. Food. With all the success, reward and guilt association around food, most people have struggled with their relationship with what they eat at least at some point in their life. The apparent solution? Dieting. If you want to lose a few pounds, cut off fries, demonise desserts and reduce the wine. Energy in, energy out. Seems pretty simple. Right?
It might seem like an easy solution, but if diets would work we wouldn’t be dealing with an epidemic of obesity and eating disorders. Your brain has its own sense of how much you should weigh, a set point that fluctuates only a couple kilos up and down. Chemical signals tell you to gain or lose weight, depending on your food consumption, environment, stress and many other factors.
When you deprive yourself of sensory pleasure by putting yourself on a strict diet, you produce less serotonin – an essential chemical for happiness and metabolic function.
The bottom line is that diets don’t work. Not for your body and not for your brain. They leave you feeling frustrated, guilty and confused, and in fact 95% of dieters gain back the weight that they have lost and sometimes gain even more than their starting weight.
When the body gets less food than it is used to, it decreases its metabolic rate, meaning that in the long run you will have to stick to smaller portion sizes to maintain your dress size. It’s a survival mechanism, really: The body is confused about why it is suddenly getting less food, and out of fear of starvation it decreases the metabolism and increases fat storage in an attempt to prepare itself for a famine. After all, the brain is 60% fat and requires dietary fat to keep working.
And then there’s binging – willpower is scientifically limited and exhaustible. When you restrict yourself too much, it’s only a matter of time until you ‘break’ and devour a jar of ice-cream in the middle of the night. If you are in a dieting cycle yourself, these next few lines are for you:
Stop the diet that you are on. Instead, start listening to your body. You have to start tuning into your body and acknowledge when it’s full, when it needs some greens, protein or a glass of red wine and some chocolate. It’s all about getting in touch with your physical needs and with your emotions. When you communicate effectively with your body, you will learn to listen to your gut instinct. You will not lose weight permanently until you go off all diets permanently.
We want to help you lose weight without losing your mind!
So, how can you do this?
- Experiment different eating styles. Try high carb, low carb, more fat, less fat or any approach that you intuitively feel attracted to. See how your body reacts to these changes. The goal is not to land on one particular diet but to figure out which pieces of different approaches and which foods make you feel great. And remember – dietary choices are not static. What might work for you today might not work for you in a couple of months. Stay open minded, stay flexible.
- Develop a fitness routine. By moving your body you learn to get in touch with your physical needs. Whether it is running, biking, swimming or yoga, find something that you personally love and do it consistently.
- Play with spirituality. Use meditation to calm your mind and put your goals into focus. Developing a spiritual practice will make you more grounded and aware, which will also help you with conscious eating. Say bye to emotional eating for good.
So go ahead, listen to your internal cues and trust your instincts. Once you learn to listen to your body, diets will be a thing of the past and you will feel strong and empowered.