How to Ditch Dieting for Good
*This blog post is part of an intuitive eating introduction series. The first principle of intuitive eating is Reject the Diet Mentality. In this article, we’ll review how to ditch dieting for good.
How to Ditch Dieting (Once and for All)
Remember Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette when she finally ditched Luke? That’s what it could be like to finally ditch the diet mentality! If you don’t watch the show, allow me to explain:
Luke was vying for Hannah’s heart for all the wrong reasons. Bachelor Nation watched with fury as his toxic presence and continuous lies impaired Hannah’s emotional well-being and other relationships. Everyone but Hannah could see this!
In this analogy, Luke is similar to the multi-billion dollar diet industry. The diet industry isn’t looking out for our well-being; it’s going after our wallets. It feeds us lies such as “lose a dress size in 3 days” and creates an unrealistic image of “the ideal body”.
Maybe you’re like Hannah and can’t see how diets have failed you. Intuitive Eating principle #1 invites us to compassionately explore our history with dieting and ditch diets once and for all!
Enough of The Bachelorette analogies, let’s address the science behind why diets don’t work.
5 Shocking Facts No One Tells You About Dieting
Metabolism slows in response to food restriction. The human body is hardwired to fight starvation at the cellular level. On a low-calorie diet, the body becomes more efficient at using calories–hence, metabolism lowers. Also, these metabolic changes can persist years after the conclusion of a diet (1).
Restricting food leads to increased food cravings. I repeat: restricting food leads to increased food cravings. Many of my clients blame their lack of willpower for episodes of overeating or out-of-control binges. It’s not a lack of willpower! Instead, the body is in survival mode sending signals to eat more. Even the mere perception of forbidden foods is enough to trigger “loss of control” around food.
Hormones are disrupted in response to dieting. Two key hormones that regulate appetite are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin triggers appetite, while leptin lowers it. In other words, ghrelin is the “hunger” hormone and leptin is the “satiety” hormone. On a low-calorie diet, ghrelin increases (increased hunger) and leptin lowers (less satisfaction). Also, it may become more difficult to notice true hunger and fullness signals when dieting (2).
Weight cycling has adverse health effects. The yo-yo effect of weight loss and weight regain is referred to as weight cycling. Numerous studies associate weight cycling with greater inflammation, poorer cardiovascular outcomes, and increased mortality risk. Shifting the focus to the restoration of natural body weight can help stop this vicious cycle (3).
The majority of people that lose weight on a diet regain it. More and more studies review the long-term effects of diets and reveal that the majority of people who lose weight on a diet regain it within the next 1-5 years. There is little evidence to support the long-term efficacy and health benefits of dieting (4).
Diets in Disguise
Maybe you agree that popular diets like “Atkins”, “Keto”, or “Detoxes” have negative effects on biological and emotional health. But what about diet mentality in disguise? Here are a few examples of sneaky diet mentality:
- Limiting carbohydrates because other people are doing it for weight loss
- Skipping meals to save up for a larger meal later in the day
- Eating “super clean” the week leading up to an event
- Labeling foods as “good” and “bad”
- Eating only at certain times of the day, despite feeling hungry at other times
- Punishing yourself for eating “bad” food by over-exercising
What do all of these messages have in common? They increase body dissatisfaction, break self-trust, and bypass internal cues of hunger, fullness, and food preference. Diet mentality is power-hungry–taking authority away from intuition.
Ditch Diets + Reclaim Your Power
Practice intuitive eating to reclaim your power and repair your relationship with food, body, and self. Contrary to diet mentality, intuitive eating increases body satisfaction and self-esteem. It guides us back to our internal wisdom to make choices supportive of total well-being.
Even when we intellectually understand the harms of dieting, it may still take time to adopt a new way of thinking and relating to our bodies. It’s important to stay compassionate with yourself throughout the process! Remember, there is no right or wrong with intuitive eating, and it’s an ongoing practice.
If you want to explore your history with dieting, catch diet mentality, and learn more about becoming an intuitive eater, contact me about setting up a FREE discovery call!