In my posts I have discussed how difficult it is for the body to lose weight and to keep it off. Factors like hunger (see post), overeating because of restrictive dieting (see post) and dopamine sensitivity (see post) all cause us to put weight on so that we return to homeostasis. Because of these factors, people that are on diets yoyo between weights. The ‘set point’ is the weight that we are genetically predisposed to be at. But with constant yoyo dieting this can change the set point making us heavier compared with the weight that we would be at if we had never dieted. With diets not working, how do we get off the yoyo dieting merry-go-round? Here are 5 tips to stop dieting that I would recommend for someone to stop yoyo dieting.
5 Tips to Stop Dieting
Let’s be realistic. If you’re like any woman you’ve probably been dieting your whole life. The first time I started dieting was when I was 9 after the teacher weighed us all and lined us up from lightest to heaviest. Being the heaviest child in the whole class brought up feelings of shame which has stayed with me into adulthood. It’s difficult to stop dieting when you’ve been taught by diet culture that ‘thin is in’ for your entire life. But I’m going to go through 5 tips to stop dieting that can get you off the yoyo dieting merry-go-round.
1. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat
When we stop dieting we can eat anything we want. ‘But I’ll stack on 20kg if I let go’. Let me give you an analogy. A cow is in a pen of half dead, trodden grass in the middle of a field of green grass. A kind farmer comes by and lets the cow out. What does the cow do? It binges on the grass like there’s no tomorrow. But over time as the cow realises that the grass will always be there, she starts to normalise her eating. When we let go and realise that hot chips, pizza and cake will always be there, we stop craving them and can think more rationally about eating food. We give equal weight to cake, chicken and tomatoes. We can get ourselves to ‘Oh cake! Yeah I’ll eat that later when I’m hungry. Or maybe tomorrow. Actually, I just feel like some fruit’. There is no more healthy or unhealthy food, there is just food.
2. Eat to your hunger and satiety cues
When we diet we lose our ability to feel hunger and satiety. We suppress the desire to eat and use external cues to tell us what to eat. An example is the diet plan that we went on when we did that 8 week transformation program. Hunger and satiety will be different for each individual person. We should eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full. On a scale of one to ten, where one is ‘I’m going to eat my arm and the arm of the person next to me’ and ten is ‘I’m so stuffed, look at my food baby it’s lucky I’m not wearing a belt’, then we should eat at a 3 and stop at 7. The body has a powerful mechanism to regulate how much food we need to consume that is in line with our energy expenditure and if we listen to the body we will never overeat.
3. Mindful eating
How often do we eat in front of the TV. By being distracted when we eat we are no longer able to hear our body’s satiety cues to tell us when to stop eating which can cause us to overeat. By sitting down at the table with no distractions we can eat and know when to stop. Mindful eating is when we look to feel everything about the food, from it’s texture, how it smells and how it tastes on the tongue. We can stop when full or when the food stops giving us pleasure.
4. Stop thinking in black and white
How often do you think ‘this has too many calories’ or ‘this food is so unhealthy’. When we give food equal weighting there is no more healthy or unhealthy. Food is food and everything fuels us. In a balanced diet even cake plays it’s part consisting of dairy for calcium, wheat for b vitamins and folate, protein for our muscles and carbs which gives us fuel
5. Embrace body positivity
Due to being bombarded with ‘thin’ and ‘diet culture, we have been conned into thinking that supermodel thin is normal. Actually only 5% of the world’s population have the genetics of a supermodel. And the other thing is that the images in the media are enhanced. So our thin ideal that we are all aspiring to is a fabrication. When you sit and look on the train this is what the average person looks like: unique. When we give up looking like the top 5% and embrace the fact that we are unique we can finally leave the dieting circus.
Those are my 5 tips to stop dieting and getting off the dieting merry-go-round. It sounds easy, but it takes time particularly with the dopamine feedback that makes us want to binge eat. But it just requires you to stop and know that the body has a mechanism in place to give you the right amount of calories necessary to live.