What do you fear the most when walking into your physician's office in a larger body? Being told how obesity may negatively affect your health and cause premature death. Also being told to “get on a diet” to do “something” about it, so you can improve your wellbeing and chances for a long healthy life.
What you are NOT told is the harm dieting causes to our body and that in fact, it increases your chances to live in a larger and sicker body than you are right now.
Why are we still prescribed diets as something to cure obesity when the research shows otherwise?
Let's see how dieting affects your body and mind.
Your body can’t tell dieting apart from actual food scarcity and starvation, so to compensate for the shortage of calories, your metabolism slows to try and conserve energy. You become more efficient at doing more with less. In other words, your body becomes really good at storing fat.
OVEREATING AND BINGING
Dieting leads to bingeing. It’s science. Say you skip breakfast to try and be ‘good’. Your brain is pissed. It sends out neurotransmitters and hormones like ghrelin and neuropeptide Y – both of which are super potent orexigenic, meaning that they stimulate appetite. So as the day goes on, these guys build-up, you give in (to your normal biological urge to eat) and once you pop you can’t stop. Sound familiar? Yup.
Your weight can go up higher than your original weight – I mean, doy! How many people do you know who’ve sustained weight loss over long periods of time? Now how many of those people are content and not furiously counting calories or going beast mode *shudders* at the gym? Right, so everyone else is probably heavier than their original weight and feeling pretty shitty about that (because that’s what society has decided they should feel), and now they’re trying to figure out the next diet they’re going to attempt.
You can’t stop thinking about your next meal, when you’re allowed to eat again, you spend hours picking out recipes on Pinterest and trawling Instagram from #foodporn figuring out how you can make ‘healthy’ gluten-free, sugar-free, low-cal substitutions. You have no mental bandwidth left for living your life.
You know when you were a kid and your mum told you not to do the thing, so you did the thing? Yeah. I see this all the time with my clients. They say certain foods are off-limits, foods they enjoy eating but deem ‘bad’. They do without it instead of satisfying their craving for it. Next thing they know they’re shoulder deep into a bucket of Phish Food, feeling sick and guilty. And the next morning you’re skipping breakfast to ‘make up for it. Rinse and repeat.
They undermine your own innate ability to recognize hunger and fullness:
Think about it; if you’re following a diet plan down to the letter, you’re relying on someone else to tell you what, when and how much to eat. THEY DON’T KNOW YOUR LIFE.
Relying on someone else to tell you what to do can so easily result in eating too much or too little: Let’s say you’re doing one of the points systems. You’ve used up all your points for the day, but you’re still hungry? You either go hungry or you beat yourself up for going over. Neither of them sounds like good options to me. Likewise, if you have some points left over, you’re probably not going to let them go to waste, even though you’re not hungry.
BUT WE KNOW IT WORKED FOR THEM!
We all know those success stories from magazines, TV or even from our friends; how they lost weight and that inspires us. We feel that if we just find the right way, we can do it too.
But what we don't see, or don't want to see is what happened to them after they stopped dieting. The fact that 95% of people who lose their weight by dieting will regain all of it and some more within 2years is more than alarming.
Majority of people lose and gain the same 20kg more than 15x during their life.
In order to temporarily feel better, to please your physician and feel better about yourself for losing all the weight, you are setting yourself up for greater problems and a higher risk of premature death in future.
“The assumption that voluntary lifestyle changes - diet and exercise can reverse obesity over a longer period of time is in dispute to scientific evidence. Efforts to lose weight leads to the body activating compensatory biological responses that typically promote long term weight gain.” RUBINO 2020
WHAT ELSE IF NOT A DIET?
We know that dieting causes more harm than good.
When I say dieting what I mean is a restriction of calories, food groups, the time you eat or even the way you move your body. Some of the diets are not called diets anymore but rather lifestyle changes, like a NOOM, WW, Whole 30 or Keto.
I get it, after years of trying to fix your broken body you don't trust yourself around food. So you feel like having a plan, or set of rules around eating is helpful if you just find the right way.
Maybe you can keep counting calories for the rest of your life, maybe it's not that bad to never eat ice cream again, or maybe you need to get away from those rules, because breaking them makes you feel guilty and then you binge.
When did this mistrust start? And was it always like that?
You have been born an intuitive eater. Since your first days, you communicated with the world when you were hungry and when you were full, you had a set of tools that worked just fine to tell you when, how much and what to eat.
As we grew older we picked up rules around food.
The first came from your family, like always finishing your plate or having a dessert after dinner not before. But the majority of them came from the very powerful manipulative tool - social media and TV.
As the time went on with each new rule to your arbitrary you silenced the little inner voice guiding you towards a balanced and healthy life. You were told that your body is here to trick you and it must be controlled. More rules you implied, harder it got.
But your body is here for you to tell you exactly what it needs. It's our mind that is tricking us.
You were born intuitive eater. And your body will always lead you towards balanced diet and healthy life, but it has been wired to survive, so if it feels threatened by lack of food (diet implied famine) it will do everything in order to protect you, even if it means piling on a weight. Because being fat is safer than being dead.
WHAT IS INTUITIVE EATING?
Intuitive Eating is a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought and was created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. Intuitive Eating is a weight-inclusive, evidence-based model with a validated assessment scale and over 100 studies to date.
It’s a personal and dynamic process, which includes 10 principles:
Reject the Diet Mentality
Honor Your Hunger
Make Peace with Food
Challenge the Food Police
Respect Your Fullness
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
Respect Your Body
Exercise—Feel the Difference
Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
Read more about the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating.
The principles work in two key ways:
By helping you cultivate attunement to the physical sensations that arise from within your body to get both your biological and psychological needs met and
Removing the obstacles and disruptors to attunement, which usually come from the mind in the form of rules, beliefs, and thoughts.
The process of Intuitive Eating is a practice, which honors both physical and mental health. Intuitive Eating is aligned with Health at Every Size, because the pursuit of intentional weight loss is a failed paradigm, which creates health problems: including weight stigma, weight cycling, and eating disorders. All bodies deserve dignity and respect.
Intuitive eating is a self-care framework allowing you to live a life in harmony with your values and achieve healthy, happy life in food freedom.
BUT HOW WILL I CONTROL FOOD?
The powerful connection of the body to mind will help you take over any control needed to improve your health and body that was genetically designed for you. You may have been reliant on external rules for a long time, to tell you when, what and how much to eat but we have been born with a self-regulatory system that knows exactly what you need at any given moment.
But after years of listening to external rules, the connection between our body and mind w