After reading this, you will never go on a diet again!
We’re obsessed with dieting – in fact, approximately 45 million Americans diet each year. In pursuit of an “ideal body” we restrict calories or even eliminate entire food groups. But dieting is not the way to go. In fact, it can lead to weight gain! Here are 5 reasons why you should stop dieting now.
WHY WOULD DIETING LEAD TO WEIGHT GAIN?
Firstly, dieting is very stressful. Restricting calories produces stress hormones. These act on fat cells and increase the amount of abdominal fat. This specific kind of fat is particularly dangerous and has been linked to many serious health problems including diabetes and heart disease, regardless of overall weight.
As you lose body fat, the amount of different hormones in your body changes. One of them is leptin, a “satiety hormone” that lets your body know when it is full.
Research shows that people who lose weight suffer a decline in leptin levels. This leaves them ravenous no matter how much they eat. Such near-constant feelings of hunger and cravings, often lead to overeating and therefore weight gain.
Studies have shown that calorie restriction can lead to counterproductive psychological consequences such as preoccupation with food and eating as well as increased emotional responsiveness.
A 2013 study showed food to people who had dieted and people who hadn’t, and then compared their brain scans. In contrast to the non-dieters, the dieters showed a heightened response in the areas of their brains linked with processing rewards. Further, dieters had a lowered response in the parts of their brains linked with a sense of control.
Weight anxiety and dieting predicts later binge eating behaviors and thus weight gain.
Girls who dieted in early adolescence were three times more likely to become overweight over the next four years. Another study found that adolescent girls who dieted frequently were 12 times more likely than non-dieters to binge two years later.
Intuition is your gut feeling. When it comes to food, it shows up in signals for hunger, fullness, satiety, or satisfaction. The problem with dieting is that it teaches us to rely on rules rather than hunger to control eating.
Dieters stuck to rules, become more vulnerable to external cues dictating them what to eat. In our current environment, these include marketing efforts such as supersizing and the all-you-can-eat-buffets.
Studies show that long-term dieters are more likely to eat for emotional reasons or simply because food is available. After ignoring their hunger, dieters finally exhaust their willpower, and tend to overeat, leading to weight gain.
IF DIETING DOESN’T WORK, WHAT SHOULD I DO INSTEAD?
PRACTISE MINDFUL EATING
Eating is a natural, healthy and pleasurable activity for satisfying hunger. However in our food-abundant, diet-obsessed culture, eating is often mindless, consuming and guilt inducing instead.
There is a growing shift away from restrictive, weight-focused programs towards a non-diet, mindfulness-based approach to optimal well-being.
Mindful eating is about paying attention to signals of hunger and fullness. It’s all about finding out just when your body feels satisfied after eating – which should be an indication to stop.
Of course, this is easier said than done – and this isn’t something which is going to change overnight. However it is worth practising as it is a powerful tool that will help you maintain optimal weight and enjoy food more while worrying about it less!