Guest Blog submission from Samantha Eaton of healthyeaton.com
8 years ago, I decided enough was enough. I had tried every type of diet/calorie counting/meal and food restriction plan out there, took diet pills and worked out 2 hours a day. Bottom line: I never lost weight, my energy was terrible, I had low confidence and self esteem with my body, and I was feeling so frustrated because I was working SO hard but didn’t have the results I wanted.
That was my diet rock bottom. I was DONE feeling obsessed with and controlled by food. But I still wondered: why didn’t my efforts work? I did everything I was supposed to do, but nothing stuck long term…and I was miserable while doing it.
The weight loss & diet industry is one of the most lucrative out there. It’s based around teaching us that our body is the enemy, it isn’t good enough, it needs to be fixed, we can’t trust it, and need to control what we eat by relying on rules and a plan…unless we’ll just eat junk food all day long. When we try and fail and try and fail again, we blame ourselves and just keep searching for that plan that’ll stick.
So here are my 3 reasons why you should STOP dieting:
Reason 1: Diets set you up to fail.
Eat this, don’t eat that. It’s a recipe for disaster. Think about it, when you were little and you were told not to touch something…all you could do was think about touching it (and maybe even actually touch it). Same with restriction and food. If you’re told you can’t eat something, you’re left to rely solely on your willpower to “stay strong.” It might be easy at first, but usually soon after you’ll have visions of cookies and chips dancing in your head. Then comes a binge, then feelings of guilt and failure, then comes more restriction. It’s a cycle! Instead of focusing on what you can’t or shouldn’t be eating, focus on all of the amazing delicious foods you want to eat. Find foods and ingredients that get you excited about eating healthfully, and you’ll look forward to it and do it effortlessly.
Reason 2: Diets don’t produce sustainable results.
We all know that person that did some diet and lost a bunch of weight in a short amount of time. You might have even done that yourself! But how many of those people have kept it off? A study done by the Journal of Obesity found only 20% of participants maintained weight loss 1 year later, and the percentage decreased even more by the two-year follow up. Restricting yourself from eating certain types of foods or only allowing yourself to eat a certain number of calories goes against your body’s basic biology. It thinks it’s starving and your metabolism slows too. Think of it like a pendulum, the more you pull back and restrict types or amount of food on one end, the more you’ll overdo it on the other end. Like have you ever gone all day or all week eating really healthfully, then have an overeating binge-fest? That’s why! It’s trying to get what it needs by triggering you. Instead, focus on getting in tune with your body’s signals. Check in often to see what your body needs. If you’re physically hungry, eat until you feel satisfied, then stop. If you’re not physically hungry, maybe you’re just bored, so what else can you do to feel stimulated or entertained? Your body WANTS you to be happy and healthy, it’s not trying to sabotage you – diets are!
Reason 3: Diets miss the point.
Diets don’t address the reasons why most people end up starting a diet to begin with, and when the diet is over, their mindset hasn’t changed and underlying triggers are still there, so the previous eating habits creep back in again…or that restrict and binge cycle I talked about earlier. Many people diet to lose weight because they think when they lose weight, they’ll naturally have more confidence, be desirable, be happy, love their body, and do all these things they can’t even imagine doing in the body they’re in now. But coming from personal experience, even at my lowest weight, I was the most miserable. I missed out on going to social events because I didn’t want to be tempted by foods I “shouldn’t” eat, I was still super self conscious about my body and still had low self esteem and confidence – just like when I was 10 lbs heavier, I beat myself up SO hard for missing a workout or eating something with sugar in it, and I was CONSTANTLY paranoid about gaining weight. Not a fun place! Instead of relying on a diet or plan, shift your focus to make food choices based on how you want to feel. Ask yourself what food will feel good in your body. Regardless of your starting point, you deserve to feel good and come from a place of love and respect for yourself right now, no matter where you’d like to end up. And I promise – you’ll get there a lot faster coming from a place of self care vs. self control.