If you’re an average American woman, you’ve been on a diet before, or a hundred diets, or the same diet one hundred times. Dieting is crazy-making.
Dieting is crazy-making because it sets you up for failure. Worse than that, dieting sets you up for a preoccupation with food, disordered eating habits, and a dislike and distrust of your body.
What do you think about when you’re dieting? *Food*. It’s disturbing how the food we do not allow ourselves to consume physically instead consumes us through our thoughts about it. We are mentally counting fat grams or calories and eyeballing portion sizes.
We are feeding our body fake food, in the form of low-fat frozen meals and protein bars, when what we really want is something more physically and emotionally satisfying. Depriving ourselves of what we really want is a joy-sucking venture that eventually propels us to give in to our cravings and tumble off the wagon.
When I was doing research on the causes of eating disorders for my thesis, I discovered that dieting was a pre-cursor to disordered eating—both clinical and sub-clinical varieties—in virtually every study I read about the subject. (This, of course, does not mean that all dieters become disordered eaters; only that pretty much all disordered eaters have been dieters).
Geneen Roth, an expert on the topic of emotional eating, notes that “for every diet there is an equal and opposite binge”. This is the mad cycle of the dieting human—restrict, feel deprived, realize “aha! I am the one depriving myself, I’m going to eat a whole jar of peanut butter and no one can stop me”, and then feel terrible guilt and remorse about blowing your diet AGAIN.
How do you lose weight or maintain a healthy, feel-good weight without dieting? By creating a plan that works for you and will continue to work for you long-term…a lifestyle change.
A lifestyle change doesn’t involve temporarily placing certain foods off limits or consuming a fraction of the calories that you normally consume. It’s a slow, steady, sane approach to eating that empowers you to make wise choices and contributes you to your overall well-being.