Dieting is a waste of energy, time and money.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly have none of those to spare!
I am a HUGE advocate of intuitive and mindful eating to manage health. It encourages a way of eating that fits with your “eating personality” & food preferences, it is easy to integrate regardless of where you are geographically (on vacation, on a business trip or enjoying breakfast bed) and perhaps most importantly, has nothing to do with starvation or deprivation.
The Psychology of Dieting
An article touches on this subject with great insight. It is from the latest Scientific American MIND magazine: Why Diets Don’t Work (and What Does) by By Charlotte N. Markey. It is so eloquently written and it mentions all the important aspects of weight management. If you have 5 minutes to read it, DO IT, you won’t regret it.
Markey’s advice is “Do not diet. Do not cut out groups of foods or count calories. Do not try to eat very little or deprive yourself. Such strategies backfire because of psychological effects that every dieter is all too familiar with: intense cravings for foods you have eliminated, bingeing on junk food after falling off the wagon, an intense preoccupation with food.” Her solution: “Making small changes to your eating patterns, ones you can build on slowly over time.”
The article touches on the mental fatigue that is brought about when dieting. Markey makes the point that “focusing too much energy on what you eat reduces your ability to do other, potentially more important things. Studies consistently reveal that dieters have more difficulty learning new information, solving problems and exerting self-control. Overthinking your food choices may also have deleterious consequences for your mental health.”.
Other studies show that eating a forbidden food (which is bound to happen at some point) can take a real toll on you mentally. In one study
of 2010, it was found that dieters tend to be consumed with thoughts, such as “Why did I eat
that?” and “What should I eat later today to make up for eating that?’
Diets vs Mindful Eating
So, getting back to my initial thought that dieting is a time suck. The funny thing is that many people have told me that they just don’t have the time to learn how to eat mindfully. They believe that they need some strict guidance on what to eat and what not to eat in order to fix their eating problems and that somehow these strict rules will be easier to follow than a more natural way of eating. For many people, it is easier to blindly follow a diet- there is no need to think or second guess your decisions so it may feel like you are saving energy. It can also feel safer to follow a traditional way to lose weight since it has been marketed to death for decades.
However, over time the strain and drain of having to resist eating the foods you enjoy and avoiding those that are handy starts to take its toll. Not to mention the terrible track record diets have with unsustainable weight loss and even weight gain.
There is a finite amount of energy we have at our disposal every day. Wasting it on doing things that just don’t work (ahem, diets!) is insane and frustrating.
YOU are the Guru
When talking about diets, gurus and celebrities come to mind. I still can’t understand why people think that a celebrity could possibly know their body better than they do. Sure, dietitians have some science-based knowledge about nutrition and know what has worked for other people who have successfully made health changes, but ultimately, you are the expert on your body. Re-discovering the confidence that you can make healthy choices takes time and practice, and it the only sustaining way to manage weight and health. I say re-discover because we were all born with the innate ability to hear and listen to our hunger and fullness cues. Understanding what influences things like mindless eating and large portion sizes is one step to eating healthier. Unfortunately, no diet will help with these issues, the answers have to come from listening to your mind and body.
No one would stand being instructed on how to feel or, perhaps more bluntly, what kind of underwear to wear. So why are so many of us allowing other people to tell us what, how much and when to eat? Listening and worrying over these instructions is a waste of time and energy.
The jobs of dietitians and other health professionals has evolved from providing knowledge and barking orders to listening to what the client wants and needs as well as motivating & supporting them to take action on making changes. So if you find yourself in a relationship with a health advocate who is telling you what to do rather than listening to you, move on and find someone who will be more of a partner in change rather than a know-it-all.
Feeling inadequate because you can’t follow a crazy diet to the letter is a waste of energy. Remember, you deserve to be confident with what you eat and diets do not give us confidence, they only take it away.