Guest post by Heather K. Jones, registered dietitian
By now we all know that diets don’t work, right? Even so, with a 68 billion dollar weight loss industry constantly enticing us to jump on the diet-and-deprivation bandwagon, it’s hard to just say no. I get it.
But here’s the thing: You cannot shame and deprive your way to a happy and healthy life. Even if you lose some weight on a restrictive diet, it doesn’t stick. And it certainly doesn’t make you feel fulfilled or free.
Going on a diet is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm. They’re ineffective and exasperating at best, emotionally damaging and physically harmful at worst.
Rather than putting yourself on another restrictive diet (and then beating yourself up when it inevitably doesn’t work), starving yourself, or pretending like you just don’t care anymore, try something radical …and something much, much better. Try treating yourself and your body the same way you would treat someone you love—with respect, compassion, and loving care.
Most people don’t expect their journey to health and lasting weight loss to be filled with joy and ease. Most expect struggle, sacrifice, and suffering, and so that’s exactly what they get. But the struggle does not move you forward in positive ways—it keeps you stuck and miserable.
Here are my top 4 reasons to ditch dieting, and what to do instead…
1. Diets don’t address the reasons why you struggle
Maybe you’re afraid of being “seen” and the extra weight is your excuse to stay in your comfort zone (FYI: Real change happens outside your comfort zone). Or perhaps you turn to food to avoid feeling negative or strong emotions. Or you might be really sensitive and use the excess weight as a sort of armor to make you feel safe. Or maybe your weight issues are related to childhood abuse, abandonment, or other painful losses you experienced growing up, and for you food equals comfort and weight equals protection.
Diets don’t help you understand WHY you overeat in the first place, so they don’t get to the root of the issue. And without this vital information, you’re going to have a hard time.
Once you understand your fears, however, you can effectively work your way through them. And this will give you the psychological green light you need to lose the weight, for good. That’s why identifying and releasing your weight loss fears is a critical part of my 3-week FREE Summer Session starting August 1st (click HERE to sign up for the free class).
2. Diets encourage you to ignore your body’s wisdom
Feeding yourself according to external cues—the clock, the amount of food on your plate, or a rigid dieting plan—goes against your bodies’ natural instincts and internal wisdom. And if you skip meals or underfeed yourself, you trigger your primal drive to overeat.
Your perfectly designed body instinctively knows exactly what it needs to thrive and naturally reach its ideal weight—you just have to listen to it.
Tuning in to what your body needs (instead of ignoring your hunger), builds trust, and learning how to get your emotional needs met (without eating) transforms your relationship with food. This is the opposite of what diets do, and this leads to long-lasting change and weight loss. (Find out more about intuitive eating HERE.) http://smallersizebiggerlife.com/summer/
And if you think your body is broken or your metabolism is ruined (common complaints from my clients), know this: You can’t permanently damage your metabolism. Your (incredible!) body will bounce back so much faster than you think. Instead of fighting, underfeeding, and abusing your body, be amazed by it. It’s working hard to keep you alive, and it deserves your appreciation and respect.
3. Diets don’t program your mind for success
We all have a set of memorized behaviors, emotional reactions, beliefs, and attitudes that run behind the scenes. This subconscious program determines how we live and make decisions on a moment-to-moment basis. And when you have beliefs and thoughts that don’t support your health goals, you end up constantly sabotaging yourself.
Plus, if you only consider yourself “worthy” or “good enough” when you eat less, weigh less, or stick to an unattainable set of dieting rules, you set yourself up for a never-ending cycle of self-hate and frustration.
Trying to lose weight without also changing your mind is a BIG weight loss mistake. On the other hand, if you shift your mindset from fear and guilt to acceptance and forgiveness while you implement healthy changes, you’ll fast track your success.
So what’s the best way to start shifting your mindset? Easy. Stop criticizing yourself. Accept and love yourself exactly as you are (yup, extra pounds and all). This is the first step to making any change. You’re not giving up. You’re empowering yourself to feel good now so that you can take positive actions towards your goals with confidence.
Think about it this way: If criticizing yourself worked, you’d already be thin and happy, right?
4. Diets keep you locked in food prison
Food is a seriously important part of self-care. One of the best ways to love yourself is to provide your body with nutrient-rich foods that make you feel and look your best.
Food is also the universal connector—we all have to eat! We all celebrate with food, socialize with food, and fuel ourselves with food. Food is a life-giving necessity and eating should be fun and enjoyable.
Diets, however, make you feel like food is the enemy. Food restriction also triggers binge eating, increases anxiety, and slows your metabolism. Diets rob you of the pleasure of eating and keep you locked in a self-imposed food prison. But you can choose food freedom instead. It’s all up to you.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned working as a dietitian for the last 20 years (and overcoming my own struggles), it’s that you cannot solve your food and body issues with the same hateful mindset that got you here. It just doesn’t work.
And in this FREE 3-week Summer Session, I’ll show you a kinder, saner, and gentler way to create lasting weight loss and wellness in your life.
You’ll receive online training videos, downloadable action sheets and resource lists, live weekly Q & A chats with me, and access to the Summer Session Support Group, a private Facebook community.
You’ll also have a chance to win one of three full scholarships to my signature program, Smaller Size Bigger Life.
Go HERE to sign up for the Summer Session starting August 1st. I’d love to see you there!
About Heather K. Jones
Heather K. Jones is a registered dietitian and the founder of HeatherKJones.com, a weight-loss website about healing and hope instead of diets and deprivation. She is also the creator of Smaller Size Bigger Life (SmallerSizeBiggerLife.com), an online program for women who struggle with emotional eating, binge eating, overeating, or body image issues.
Specializing in nutrition communications, weight management, and behavior change therapy, Heather has spent the last 20 years assisting people who struggle with diet and food issues.
She is the co-author of the New York Times best-selling books, Skinnytaste Fast and Slow (Potter, 2016) and The Skinnytaste Cookbook (Potter, 2014), and she is currently working on the third Skinnytaste cookbook, scheduled for release in October 2018.
She has also contributed to numerous health and nutrition books, and has had hundreds of articles published in healthy-living magazines, including SELF, Fitness, Redbook and more, and she is regularly featured as a nutrition expert in a variety of media outlets. She also spent more than seven years working for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and its award-winning newsletter, Nutrition Action Healthletter.