Why Diets Don’t Work

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I love peanut butter. As a kid, I used to eat it out of the jar, spoon first. Although I grew out of the spoon phase, I still love it with bread and honey, with chocolate and in nearly any candy bar.

What I never did know about my love for peanut butter, is that it made me sick. I was so out of touch with my body and the effect of food on my body that I never realized that the sick feeling in my stomach was the result of the food I just ate. It took time of working on my food and body issues to put it together and even longer to realize that my tummy rejects peanut butter only when I have eaten more than my body can handle. This is good to know because now, when I get that sick feeling, I just stop eating peanut butter for a while and then I can eat it again.

Of course, I always have the choice to eat it, and sometimes I do choose it, even when I know I may not like how I feel later. But, I have a choice and the choice is mine.

Although the above does not fully demonstrate why diets don’t work, it does show the result of dieting and/or listening to what others tell us to eat.

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When you diet, you stop listening to your body and start listening to what others say you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat. you may become overwhelmed because there are SO MANY others telling you what to eat (doctors, diet creators, mothers, fathers, friends, grandparents, siblings, nutritionists, magazines, TV, radio, the internet, personal trainers, even therapists).

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As children, you know exactly what your body wants and needs. you eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. As you grow up, you begin to trust others more than yourself. you start to diet because you think that is how you become a good, successful, attractive person.

What happens if I tell you to stop thinking about Pink Elephants? Let’s try it: whatever you do, DON’T think about Pink Elephants!

We’ll, did you think about at least one pink elephant?

This is why diets don’t work. Dieting doesn’t keep you from not thinking about your favorite foods, you think about them more.

What does a diet tell you to do? Eat this, don’t eat that, this is good for us, that is bad. But, have you noticed that the “bad” food is usually always your favorite foods? And, even if you love the “good” food, if you eat it long enough, love goes from like, to boredom, to “I never want to eat this again!”

So, when you stop eating the food you love because the “diet” tells you to, you may lose some pounds, but, the diet stops. Then, what do you do? you eat our favorite food again.

However, you rarely will just eat a little of it. Your body and mind think you starved yourself of it (you are told “don’t think about pink elephants”) and now you can’t get enough of it. you eat more and more of it. It may become an obsession.

If you go back on the diet again, you think you don’t know if you can ever eat it again (because the “diet” said it was bad for you) and so you binge on it just before the diet. you all know this… the “my diet starts tomorrow” philosophy.

In addition, when you do “lose it” and start bingeing on the “bad” foods (even just thinking about the food can trigger this for some), you think you are bad, or weak, or undisciplined for eating it. Of course, for many, that bad feeling just leads to more bingeing.

And, there you are, right in the middle of the binge/purge cycle. Even if you don’t use vomiting to purge, you purge emotionally just by beating yourself up for eating. “Bad food” becomes “Bad me”. Bad me leads to bingeing. Get my point?

Diets don’t work.
In fact, diets even make you fatter. Researchers are finally looking into the diet phenomenon and discovering this. I have recently noticed diet ads have started to include “results not typical”. They certainly can leave you feelings more out of control with food. And, studies show that people who diet gain more weight over time and the yoyo weight gain and loss can lead to more health problems as it is hard on your body to go through this cycle.

Lastly, not dieting is way more fun! Imagine eating what you want and having your favorite foods in the house for weeks, without fearing you will eat it all in one sitting! It is absolutely possible and a great way to live your life.

Suggested Exercise:
Pick your favorite food and eat it as much as you want! How fun is that?

Notice and pay attention to when you start to get bored with it, this will probably take less than one week. Notice as your favorite food becomes less and less appealing until you don’t even crave it anymore. Don’t worry, though, you will crave it again. When you let yourself have it when you want it, the crazy feeling you have toward it will naturally lessen. You now have choice about eating it.

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