How many times have you gone on a diet only to gain back what you lost and then some? How many times have you vowed to do it differently next time only to repeat the diet and binge pattern again and again? It seems so simple, but it is really a setup. What you haven’t realized is that most diets are not designed to be sustainable. Weight Watchers banks on a 16% success rate. If they had an 84% success rate instead, they couldn’t have afforded to pay Oprah to be their spokesperson and they would have gone out of business a long time ago. Why does this diet scheme persist? It works in the short-term which gives people some confidence and motivation. Why does it fail long-term? Most diets are not sustainable because they are too restrictive and rigid. When you tell people they can’t eat certain foods, they can feel successful for a while, but usually after 3 weeks, you just can’t take it anymore. When you eat the forbidden food, you feel so much shame that you keep eating. When you finally stop, you find yourself going back to that familiar diet. It is a never ending cycle. So, what are we missing here? There are 3 things that will make you successful when it comes to your relationship with food….
- Deal with your emotional baggage. The more you ignore all of the emotional garbage that fuels your emotional eating, the longer you will stay stuck in this cycle. I guarantee it. Even if the emotional stuff went down years ago and you think you have dealt with it, it is probably still there. Until you fully address the crappy things you have been through and look at the emotional connections you have made with food, you really can’t move forward.
- Stop restricting your food. By giving yourself unconditional permission to eat every food, you take away the defiance that tends to fuel the binge following a diet. I have my clients focus on adding foods, not taking them away. If your biggest barrier is that you eat fast food 3 times per week, telling yourself you can’t ever eat fast food will only spark a rebellion. Your brain will crave it more than ever. Instead, focus on feeding your body nourishing foods. Make sure you get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Make sure you eat plenty of protein. If you still feel like you want to eat fast food, go ahead. Just do it mindfully.
- Eat mindfully. Mindful eating isn’t scarfing fast food down in the car as you drive. It isn’t eating in front of the tv. Mindful eating is sitting down at the table. It is eating off a plate instead of out of a package. It is slowing down and allowing yourself to taste it. How do you know you even like something if you aren’t tasting it? Mindful eating is paying attention to hunger and fullness. If you aren’t hungry when you start eating, how do you know when to stop? Stopping once you are sick isn’t really working.
Instead of going on another diet, try this for a while. It isn’t going to be a magic bullet that allows you to lose 5 pounds a week, but if we are honest, those diets haven’t really worked.