A lot of my clients seek me out because they’re tired of trying diet after diet with no long-term results. People are confused: one diet guru says to avoid carbohydrates, another says to avoid fat, another says to avoid protein. Eat only cooked foods, eat only raw foods, make sure you eating them in the right combination!
If you’re avoiding everything, what’s left to eat?!
Here’s the thing: diets don’t work. They leave us confused, exhausted, and hungry. They result in uncontrollable cravings for the very foods we’re trying to avoid. It has nothing to do with lack of willpower or laziness. Rather, diets consistently fail because our bodies are physiologically programmed to outsmart our attempts to slim down quickly.
Our bodies are programmed to survive. For thousands of years, survival has been dependent on the ability to efficiently store fat in times of scarcity. If you couldn’t store and live off fat for long periods of time — during, say, a famine — then you would die and those who could would thrive. Survival of the fittest!
So what does survival have to do with dieting? When you restrict your caloric intake below a certain level, your body reverts to its primal survival mode. It begins to store food as fat, making it extremely difficult to lose weight. This level differs for every single person. We’re all pre-programmed with an ideal weight range and energy intake requirements that work for our bodies — it’s difficult for us to maintain anything above or below that range without severely over- or under-eating. Once you get to the lower end of that range, your metabolism slows down and your body starts to fight to hold onto fat.
To make matters worse, once your stop dieting, your body wants to make up for lost time. Your brain sends more hunger signals, prompting you to either eat more or be miserable. This continues until you’ve reached the ideal range once again, or go crazy trying to avoid this. Since your body is still trying to ensure you’ll live longer (i.e., make sure you have enough fat stores for the next famine), it’s likely that the weight you do gain back will primarily consist of fat. Thus starting the dieting cycle all over again.
It’s exhausting! Many clients come to me with low self-esteem, depression, and a feeling that they’re waging war against themselves. They don’t understand what’s wrong with them — why won’t their bodies cooperate?!
The first thing I do is to get them off of diets and out of the dieting mentality. To do this, each client works to re-regulate her natural appetite, learn listen to her cravings, and get in the habit of eating when she’s hungry. Further, we explore her beliefs around food and brainstorm to find new, non-food ways to deal with their emotions.
And it works. Instead of giving them a list of foods they absolutely cannot eat no matter what, I encourage each client to experiment with new and different whole foods (leafy greens! whole grains! foods that don’t come in a box!) to see which they love — because you’re supposed to enjoy the food you eat, not force yourself to chow down on tasteless foods that are nothing more than a string of nutritional information in a box.
Does this sound familiar? Have you been struggling with diet after diet? Contact me and set up a free consultation today. It takes less than an hour and it’s a conversation could change the way you eat forever.