For anyone who's been on a diet, you'll be all too familiar with the stress and exhausting cycle of trying to lose weight.
Have you ever wondered how this is so at odds with how apparently simple, effortless we're told it is to lose weight by the outside world? We’ve been lead to believe that dieting is an innocent past time, that it's easy. That you should lose weight or that you should very carefully avoid gaining weight to have good health (and more covertly to find love or to be successful).
Being in a smaller body is upheld in society as almost the holy grail to our daily woes and happiness. But dieting doesn't work in the long run for the vast majority of people.
What I want to help you know - is that your weight does not equal your worth. That you can improve your health, feel sexy, powerful and confident in your here-and-now body without obsessing over the numbers on the scale. All women, of all shapes and sizes.
Instead of restriction and being a slave to your harsh inner critic - how about nourishment, joyful movement, self-care, body respect and re-connecting with your inner body's signals?
Yes there’s the Atkin’s diet and the Pioppi diet. But dieting is also a behaviour or action that doesn’t have to be labelled as ‘I’m on xxx diet’. Dieting is consciously or unconsciously eating less than your body requires, whether that’s through calorie counting, eliminating a food or food group, or excessively exercising. Even if you aren’t actively trying to lose weight, you may still be subconsciously on a diet and trying to prevent your body changing.
It may even be dressed up as ‘healthy eating’, ‘wellness’. ‘clean’ or ‘sugar-free’.
If you really think hard about it, in your heart of hearts, do you control what you eat because you’re afraid of gaining weight rather than what feels good for your body?
Do you get angry with yourself for eating sugar, fat or carbs? Is hunger your (false) friend, and do you try to avoid feeling fully satisfied by food?
The myth we're sold
Losing weight is easy
Keeping the weight off just takes willpower and a healthy lifestyle (so simple, right)
If my diet fails it’s my fault
I’ll be happier with my body if I lose weight
I’ll be able to keep the weight off
Losing weight is the only thing I can do for my health
Diets are really hard to stick to – your body is programmed by primal survival to override willpower to feed itself
Your body actively resists weight loss. Your metabolism slows and you become wired to crave food as your hormones that regulate appetite and satiety change.
You likely might see some short-term weight loss. But your body catches on. And most people will regain that weight back, if not with more within 2-5 years.
Research has associated higher body dissatisfaction when dieting than not
The Diet/Restrict Cycle
When dieting mentality is engaged, your food choices are dictated by your internal diet rules regardless of your food preferences, energy needs, and hunger.
This triggers feelings of deprivation, leading your body to biologically override your mental willpower, your inner rebellion. Too often you’ll find you’re face-deep and feeling wildly out of control around foods, usually sugary foods and carbs.
Cue feelings of self-loathing, guilt and somehow you end up back at the beginning of the cycle wondering if the next diet will be ‘the one’, or that you’ll ‘be better’ and ‘try harder’ this time. Sound familiar?
"Several large scale studies demonstrate that eating restraint is actually associated with weight gain over time”
Rather than producing lasting weight loss, dieting is associated with an increased risk of weight gain over time. Jumping on and off a restricted eating pattern can cause your weight to bounce up and down, and if often called weight cycling.
Dieting can be the gateway for some to develop an eating disorder. The National Eating Disorders Association reported that 35% of "normal dieters" progress to disordered eating and that 20-25% of those develop full-blown eating disorders.
Once you’re on a diet, it’s easy to slip into disordered eating behaviours. Disordered eating is a descriptive phrase, not a diagnosis like having an eating disorder is. Still, disordered eating bahaviours do warrant attention.
"Dieting is the single most important risk factor for developing an eating disorder. Girls who diet moderately are 5 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who don't diet, and those who diet severely are 18 times more likely.”
The Intuitive Eating approach was created by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It’s an evidence-based, mind-body approach containing 10 principles to support you towards better health and a happier relationship with food and your body.
This approach removes the focus away from weight, and towards health behaviours and lifestyle changes. The principles purpose is to create awareness of your body, including your hunger and satiety signals, and food-body congruence (how food makes you feel).
Intuitive Eating helps you to move towards health by honouring the messages from your body in order to meet your body’s needs.
Intuitive eating isn’t a diet. There are no black and white rules. In fact, it’s the antithesis of a diet.
There’s no pass or fail, rather it’s a journey of self-awareness and tapping into the needs of your body and mind.
Intuitive Eating isn’t a weight loss tool. It’s an empowering process which reconnects you with your own inner wisdom. Only you are the expert of your own body.
And the funny thing is, when we get out of our own head’s food rules and stop obsessing over food, we ultimately move towards caring for our body in a positive and powerful way.