How many times have you heard people say they’re trying to lose weight and need to go on another diet? In this post we will guide you toward why dieting won't help and what you can do instead.
With the $61 billion dollar weight loss industry, we are looking for guidance in hopes that the industry is really helping us achieve optimal health. As we begin to follow these food-restrictive diets, we start to develop “food fears” without being aware of how detrimental it can be both on the body and mind.
What occurs during the dieting mindset:
- With rigid food rules, food and diet anxiety starts to occur
- Feelings of guilt arise and food becomes a moral issue
- Pleasure and satisfaction from eating are lost
- There is a slow build of distrust with the body as it cannot tell you cues of satiety
As worry and fear start to set in, we begin to ignore direct messages coming from our bodies, such as early hunger and when to stop eating. In Hawks’ study, he describes how dieters who experience the dieting mindset are more likely to show signs of eating disorders, lower psychological well-being and more body-dissatisfaction.
Many studies have shown that dieting perpetuates emotional eating and binge eating disorder (BED). BED is characterized by frequent episodes of extreme overeating, feeling out of control while binging followed by feelings of guilt and shame after eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It’s twice as prevalent as Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa. An estimated 3.5% of women, 2% of men and 30% - 40% of those who seek treatment for weight loss have BED. The disorder impacts people of all ages, races, incomes and levels of education.
Over 50% of those with BED are obese, 19% are of normal weight and 36% are overweight according to BMI. The deprivation caused by dieting is often the prescription given to obese and overweight individuals, however it makes binge eating worse, and the person is very likely to continue to gain weight. As a result, the cycle continues with trying more diets; binge eating with feelings of shame and guilt about their eating.
- Practice mindfulness: self-connect and be aware as you are the expert of your own body
- Tell yourself you will never be on a diet again and that you trust your body to tell you when it is hungry or full
- Give yourself permission to eat and do not judge yourself because eating is good for our bodies
- Treat accompanying psychological disorder(s) such as depression
- Eat for physical reasons, not emotional reasons
- Find other ways to cope with stress and other not-so-fun emotions
- Find an enjoyable activity to keep active
Some might ask how can we eat anything we want? Once we no longer feel deprived, the novelty wears off and we begin to eat foods that make our bodies feel more energetic and healthier. The urge to binge becomes less impulsive and gradually decreases as you re-learn to trust yourself with food. As you become more self-aware your body will also begin to feel what foods make you feel better than others. Enjoy foods that satisfy you.
Learn more about how to stop dieting in Savvy Girl: A Guide to Eating, and consider finding a professional who knows how to treat Binge Eating behavior to help.
Sumner Brooks is a registered dietitian nutritionist, co-author of Savvy Girl: A Guide to Eating, and is a certified Intuitive Eating counselor. Contact Sumner directly for guidance and help to stop binge eating, chronic dieting and other eating-related concerns. Learn more about the Savvy Girl guide book series here.
Post was written by Amy Vida and Sumner Brooks, owner and dietitian at Not On A Diet in Torrance, CA.
- Binge Eating Disorder Association. http://bedaonline.com/understanding-bed/what-is-binge-eating-disorder/#.VLxyumTF8St. Date Accessed January 17, 2015.
- Deal B, Brooks, S. Savvy Girl: A Guide to Eating. Brittany Deal. United States. 2014.
- Romanick, N. Mindful Based Strategies for BED Treatment. Rosewood Institute Webinar. 2015.
- Reel J. Eating Disorders: An Encyclopedia of Causes, Treatment, and Prevention. ABC-CLO; 2013.
- Terisue, MPH, Hawks. S. Intuitive Eating, Diet Composition, and the Meaning of Food in Healthy Weight Promotion. American Journal of Health Education. 2013; vol(37): 130-136
- Tribole, E. Intuitive Eating: Make Peace with Food, Mind and Body. Youtube.com. http://youtu.be/eSpzf72S6IY. Date Accessed: January 17, 2015.