Sick of starting constantly starting a diet, only to give up and overeat, feeling ashamed/disgusted at your lack of willpower or self control? Whether your “being good” lasts for six months or six hours, the proof is in the pudding (pun intended) – diets do not work. If you are fed up of yoyo dieting – that is, going from “YEAHHH I’m going to eat so healthily and lose so much weight”-style motivation to “I just ate 1 and a half tubs of ice-cream – I’m such a failure *sob sob*” please read on. If your diet/healthy lifestyle plan/insert-other-guise-here consistently works for you, and you have never regained the weight you lost then congratulations! You are the lucky 2% of the population.
Yep you heard that right – 98% of dieters will put back on the weight they lost while dieting. Hell, 95% of them will weigh even more 5 years after their diet than before they started.
So before you go subscribing to that diet – whether its Weight Watchers or a “we’re not a diet, we’re a lifestyle change” regime, just think. Why do you think that selective deprivation of something you need to survive (food) will benefit you in the long term?
Diets Don’t Work
See, dieting isn’t as simple as giving up cigarettes. If you give up food, you obviously won’t survive! You can’t avoid it, can’t decide “nu uh, nope, I’ve had it with food – I’m not eating anymore”. It just doesn’t work! It’s like giving up oxygen to avoid free radicals. It won’t work. So you get selective – you turn the fattening, sugary, processed food into “forbidden fruit” (I’m on fire with these food-based jokes), while eating all the cauliflower and broccoli you can get your hands on. But overeating is overeating, whether its on Cadburys or carrots and, face it, when you ban yourself from something what happens? You end up wanting it more than ever.
And the diet industry marketeers know this full well – depriving yourself of food just leads to what I call “famine mode” – your mind knows you’re restricting yourself of food and energy, and goes into survival mode. This is when you eat anything and everything you can get your hands on, and the more sugary/fatty the food the better as that will give your body a big boost of glucose, most of which will be converted and stored as fat.
And remember, when you inevitably fall off the bandwagon and declare yourself temporarily “off” a diet, well, we all know about the free-for-all that goes on then. No food is off bounds, and you eat everything you banned when you were “on” a diet. But it doesn’t have to be this vicious binary cycle of “on” vs “off”.
So… What Should I Eat?!
Whatever you want!
Scary isn’t it.
You don’t have any self-control, right? You will eat so much that you will end up being one of those people who need to be air-lifted out of their house because they can’t fit through the door. Right?
Wrong. I promise you.
By making any food accessible to you, those damn carrot sticks will eventually become as tempting a snack as the Cadburys will. See, when anything is allowed, and nothing is off-limits, you can start making real decisions based on what you actually want. Not what your panicking, glucose-starved brain wants, but what your body is craving. I don’t mean you won’t ever crave chocolate etc again, but once you are more in tune with what your body wants, and can better understand what is going on in your mind, you will be more in control of your own diet than ever before. And yes, sometimes feeling upset/down/lonely will take you straight to the biscuit tin, but more often than not you will be able to recognise how you are feeling and realise that the biscuit tin does not have all the answers to your woes.
Want to know more?
Four years ago I started down this path of intuitive eating, and yes there have been some hiccups along the way, but I am so much more at peace with my eating than ever before. It can be challenging, especially when you are in the health and fitness bubble and therefore inundated with what you should and shouldn’t be eating (“fat is bad”/”fat is good and carbs are the ultimate evil”/”carbs are acceptable as long as they’re wholegrain” … whaaaat?).
I’ll be the first to admit that the last few months I have been getting confused about what to eat again – I am mostly paleo but don’t think it’s ethical to eat meat (there’s an oxymoron) and have been torn between veganism and paleo, while binging on lots of chocolate to soothe my confused brain! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently, and I want to start the Tali Diet – i.e. be my own boss, eat what I think is right and ignore all these fads. I think this will involve eating less meat and more vegetables, as well as more wholegrains as I have been running on empty lately. I don’t want to cut out meat altogether, but I do want to make better choices such as free-range, grass/corn-fed organic meat. So watch this space if you want to hear about my progress and tips along the way.
If you want to know more and you want it NOW, I 100% recommend Beyond Chocolate – a British sister duo who promote intuitive eating and help others deal with emotional overeating. They are so supportive, and I have read their books, and done their E-courses and workshops in the past. I cannot sing their praises enough! Alternatively, there’s plenty of online guidance out there, from Geneen Roth and many other prominent anti-diet role models. Have a google, as there are plenty of resources out there.
Have you ever struggled with dieting before? What’s your story?