Why Diets Don't Work

October 31, 2017

Dieting is the act of trying to shift the outer, physical body in order to feel internal, emotional change. We want to feel more confident, happier, sexier, lighter, more successful, etc. We think that once we lose the weight and get the body we want, we will feel those things. But more often than not, we are not feeling those things, not because of our bodies, but because we are having a hard time fulfilling them in other areas of life. So food becomes the scapegoat, the coping mechanism, the punishment, the reward. Sound familiar? 

 

Excess weight is not the problem, it’s the symptom. 

 

Excess weight is often here to guide us into learning something greater about ourselves and how we interact with the world around us. So when we ignore the deeper causes for our struggles with food and body and go directly to trying to change the body, the change won’t last because it requires us to maintain willpower, of which we have limited amounts. And once the willpower runs out, we’re back where we started, but feeling even more negative emotion than before: guilt, shame, disappointment. And those negative emotions perpetuate the vicious cycle of that desperate need to change and feel better. Which often we think will happen by going on another diet! 

 

The dieting mentality is a fear mentality. And acting out of fear never leads to positive change. We need to look at weight loss and shifting our bodies from a place of curiosity and compassion, from the inside out. We actually have to learn how to appreciate and accept our bodies where they are right now before we can begin to change them. Why? Because once we start viewing our bodies as a friend instead of seeing them as the enemy, we can develop a partnership with them. We can learn how to work with our bodies instead of against them, and begin to stop those shame cycles. 

 

The Restrict - Binge Cycle 

 

Physiologically, the act of restricting calories and macro nutrients (ex. low carb, low fat diets) puts our body into starvation response. When the body thinks that food is scarce, 

 

  • It stores excess fat to be "used for later.” However, later rarely comes, because we’re not cave-people anymore, and we always have more food available. 

  • It slows our metabolism way down, because it’s trying to conserve energy. Metabolism refers to the rate at which the body breaks down food to convert into energy. When the body thinks it’s potentially starving, it wants to slow down that process as much as possible. Meaning, again, excess fat stored to be used for later.

  • It causes us to binge eat. Our primal brains will do just about anything  to help us survive. When they think we are in a famine, if food becomes available (especially delicious, fatty, sugary, calorically dense food) it’s almost impossible to turn it down, and we typically end up overeating. And now we are overeating in a state of slowed metabolism and excess fat storage. Uh oh! It’s not a lack of willpower, friends - it’s your brain and body trying to help you survive. 

 

Essentially, dieting and restricting ends up causing us to actually gain weight over time. The more we try to obsessively control, the less control we actually have. The opposite of control is trust. The more we can let go and relax around food, the more we can trust ourselves and access a peaceful, intuitive relationship with food and body.

 

How? 

 

Stop dieting

Stop restricting yourself 

Stop counting calories ad macros 

Stop saying mean things to your body 

 

Start allowing yourself to receive pleasure from food again

Start slowing down and savoring every bite 

Start eating when your body is hungry, and stopping when it's full 

Start looking for everything you appreciate about your body the way it is right now 

Start turning judgment into curiosity

Start identifying all of the things you will feel when you lose the weight, and find ways to start feeling them now 

 

It really is that simple. But I know, simple does not mean easy!

 

Need some help figuring out how to trust yourself and find a more peaceful relationship with food and your body? That's why I'm here. Let's do this together! 

 

 

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​© 2016 by Sara B Groton