Chances are, you have been on a diet before. You decide it’s time to lose weight, get healthy, and eat well so you make a list of foods you are no longer going to eat.
It may have gone great for the first day or so, but slowly it gets harder and harder, and before you know it you are binge eating everything in your kitchen at 10pm, then sitting in a slump on the floor with a food coma feeling guilty about your lack of self control.
Well, you are off the hook because I’m here to tell you it was not your fault. The truth is, diets don’t work - they are just a billion dollar industry trying to convince people that they will be happy when they lose weight, and the way to lose weight is to try their new fad. But it is a load of crap.
This is why diets don’t work:
1. Dieting changes the way your brain responds to food. When you decide to go on a diet, you all of a sudden begin to notice food more than ever before. Not only are you more responsive to food, it starts to look tastier and has a higher reward value. This makes it harder to resist and results in serious food cravings.
2. Your metabolism slows down. Because you are depriving your body through dieting, it goes into a panic and starts to use calories in the most effective way possible. This would be a good thing if you were starving to death, but you body doesn't understand that you are only trying to fit back into your skinny jeans. Not only does your body start using less calories, it starts to store fat which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
3. Your hormones start to change as you lose body fat. Because you are losing weight, your hormones that make you feel full decrease, and the hormones that make you feel hungry increase. Unfair, I know! This essentially makes you feel hungrier than usual, and you need more food to feel satisfied.
So there you have it - diets don’t work. But what is the alternative?
My advice is: start listening to your body.
The truth is, every single body is different, meaning there is no single solution for everybody. This may make it more complicated than simply following the instructions set by someone else, but it is worth finding your own solution. Find what works for you, and you alone. Your body may thrive on meat, maybe you can’t live without a little sugar here and there, maybe you’re body is sensitive to gluten.
Most of us don’t know what foods our bodies want to eat, but it’s time to start paying attention. We may be used to eating a certain way due to habits we have developed since childhood (you may be so used to eating your morning cereal you don’t know any other way). The key is to start becoming more aware of the effect different foods are having on your body. This is a challenge because after years of eating the same way, chances are you don’t even know how your body is supposed to feel. But there are little clues you need to listen out for.
Many of us are used to feeling bloated, or have become accustomed to the feeling of heartburn after a heavy meal, but the truth is, we don’t need to feel this way.
I’m challenging you to start paying attention to the foods you are eating and the way they are making you feel.
You may make some groundbreaking discoveries, such as breaking out every time you eat dairy, or feeling tired the day after eating a few too many slices of cake. The easiest way to do this is to create a food diary. Write down everything you eat, as well as how it makes you feel.
Once you start putting these patterns together, you will become aware of the effect your diet is having on your body. Once you start to realise you can feel better, you will start eating the foods your body wants to eat. And once you start eating foods your body (not anyone else’s) wants to eat, you will realise a new sense of vitality you never thought possible. This new level of health will make it easy for you to skip the cake at the party, or stop yourself after one or two glasses of wine.
Have you ever kept a food diary? How did it work for you?