Here you are again. Your promise to yourself and everyone in your life to lose weight has run its course. You did your best to diet. Perhaps you lost some weight, but you couldn’t keep it up. Eventually, you ate those forbidden foods, and couldn’t stop. Once again, you ate everything you shouldn’t have and you are starting to gain back the weight. You failed - again.
You didn’t fail the diet. The diet failed you!
The diet will always fail you because diets don’t work. When you diet, you stop listening to your body and start listening to what others say you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat.
You receive these messages from so many places (doctors, diet creators, mothers, fathers, friends, grandparents, siblings, nutritionists, magazines, TV, radio, the internet, personal trainers, even therapists). But that doesn’t make any of them right.
Dieting teaches you to stop trusting yourself.
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.
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?
Don’t eat that.
This is good for you.
That is bad.
Have you noticed that the “bad” food is usually always your favorite one? 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 eventually stops. And then you eat your favorite foods again. However, you rarely just eat a little of it. Your body and mind think you starved yourself of it and now you can’t get enough. You eat more and more. It may turn into a binge. It may become an obsession.
The Last Supper
So you go back on the diet. Out of fear that, “I may never be able to eat this again!” you binge on it just before the diet. This is the “last supper” phenomenon.
In addition, when you do “lose it” and start bingeing on the “bad” foods (even just thinking about the forbidden food can trigger this for some), you think you are undisciplined or have no control; you think you are bad for eating what you wanted. 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 and worse, hating yourself.
Diets Just Don’t Work
Diets don’t work. In fact, diets can even make you fatter. Researchers are finally looking into the diet phenomenon and discovering this salient detail that they’ve neglected to share with us for so long. Dieting certainly can leave you feeling more out of control with food. And studies show that people who diet gain more weight over time. This yo-yo weight gain and loss can lead to more health problems as it is hard on your body to go through this cycle.
So being caught in the diet cycle takes away from your life and your mental, emotional and physical health!
Alternatively, getting out of this crazy cycle has many benefits!
So Let’s Go on The Diet Diet
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 them all in one sitting! Imagine going to a party and eating what you want without worrying about what people think about you! Imagine letting go of obsessing about everything you eat and having time and energy to think about what is really important to you! These things and more are absolutely possible and a great way to live your life.
Getting out of the diet cycle will help you stabilize your weight and accept your body! When you are caught in the diet cycle, how can you not hate your body? After all, dieting is all about trying to change how you look and ultimately who you are. When you stop this crazy cycle, you take big steps to accepting and even liking your body!
Ending the diet cycle also helps you learn to trust yourself again, not just with food but with other things in your life. You are practicing self-trust with food and this practice carries over into other areas. Imagine trusting yourself again!
Pick your favorite food and eat it as much as you want! Give yourself full permission to eat it and to enjoy it.
Notice and pay attention to when you start to get bored with it, this may even 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 your body is ready and you are ready to listen to your body.
This works because when you let yourself eat what you want, the crazy feelings you have towards food will naturally lessen. You won’t be eating foods out of reaction to feeling bad about yourself or because you’re not supposed to eat them. That rebellion diminishes. You now have a choice about what you eat.
Your desire to binge and the obsession with food goes away. You can now enjoy food again without fearing it or feeling bad about yourself for wanting it.
Please let me know how this exercise goes or where you are with dieting and your life. I’d love to hear from you!
Anne is a mental health counselor who specializes in helping women end the diet cycle to turn every meal into an act of self love and acceptance. Anne has been helping women heal their relationship with food and their body for over 12 years. For more support with healing your relationship with food and your body, visit Anne's website Food Is Not the Enemy, to get Anne’s free report "5 Steps Toward a Diet Free Life."