Can you relate to this line of thinking?
‘I know dieting doesn’t work long-term, and eventually I really want to try mindful and Intuitive Eating. But I’m at my highest weight now, so I’m going to try just this one last diet to get the weight off. And THEN I’ll work on my relationship with food once I’m more comfortable in my body. Because my body right now is unacceptable. ‘
I get it. It’s hard to imagine listening and trusting your body more when you’re so invested in the idea of changing it asap. While more people these days seem to agree with the idea that “diets don’t work,” the seductive magical thinking of “just this one last diet” is…huge. Plus, wouldn’t it be amazing if all those dieting claims were true?
But of course they’re not. Most companies don’t want you to know there’s overwhelming research that dieting causes harm physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
You might be tempted to hop back on the dreadful diet rollercoaster thinking the worst that can happen is that you don’t lose as much weight as you hope. But let’s take a moment to consider some of the known unwanted side effects, including:
- Decreased metabolism (how your body adapts to restrictive eating)
- Increased bingeing, especially on “forbidden foods,” which are now more rewarding to the brain
- Increased risk of disordered eating
- Low energy
- Decreased ability to identify subtle hunger or comfortable fullness
- Sleep problems
- Increased weight gain. Dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain. Up to two-thirds of people who start a diet will eventually weigh more than when they started. Dieting is the one known way to increase your body’s setpoint (the weight range your body feels best at and naturally wants to be). Also, there’s not one single study showing that any diet leads to sustainable weight loss.
Mental & Emotional
- Low mood and depression
- Increased food fears
- Decreased focus and concentration
- Feelings of deprivation
- Increased stress in social situations
- Less presence with others and life in general
- Increased hopelessness
- Increased guilt and shame
- Decreased body trust, leading to decreased overall self-trust
- And more…
It’s tempting to buy into the promises that you’re just a 30-day challenge away from food and body confidence. But if you take a moment to look at the evidence and your years of experience, what do you already know? If you find yourself fantasizing about that one diet that “worked,” what happened after it stopped “working?”
Einstein famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
**This article is written by Minh-Hai Alex, a registered dietitian and certified health and wellness coach from Seattle, Washington. Her specialties include Intuitive Eating, eating disorders, emotional eating, sports nutrition, IBS, PCOS, and certain other health concerns.
Visit Minh-Hai’s website, and read her blog for more information: Mindful Nutrition