“Your body is precious. It is your vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~Buddha
Diets are extremely seductive.
We get lured in by the promises they make:
The temptation of a smaller jeans size.
The possibility of having a beach-ready body.
The idea that everything would be better if you just weighed ten (or fifteen, or twenty…) pounds less.
When you’ve overloaded yourself with sweets and feel horrible about your body, it’s easy to get sucked into attempting a diet as a quick-fix to your weight issues.
In my own life, I struggled with gaining and losing the same sixty pounds for about twelve years. I would start over on Monday, swear off sweets and dessert, and then be knee-deep in a gallon of ice cream by Friday.
If there was a diet out there, I tried it. Cleanses, detoxes, Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, The Zone Diet, Weight Watchers, and even diet pills.
Even though I was continually seduced by the promise of weight loss, I never kept it off. I would inevitably end up failing miserably, but would still be seduced by the promise of “well, next time, I’ll really stick with it!”
So when you’re seduced by the promise of weight loss and tempted to start another diet, let me save you weeks of frustration and tears with what I learned in my twelve years of dieting.
Here's why another diet is never the answer:
Diets fail 100 percent of the time.
Diets fail because there is an “on” and an “off.” If you go “on” something, at some point in time you have to go “off” of it. Yes, you may lose weight initially. You may drop a size or two from not eating carbs. But in six months, a year, or five years, has the weight come back?
No one can sustain the “I’m eating only fruits, vegetables, and chicken” diet forever. When you rigidly restrict what you eat, eventually you’ll get to a point where you give in. This inevitably leads to a slippery downhill slope of overeating and then “starting over” the next day.
Diets are never successful long term. Failure is built into the very nature of a diet. When you start a food plan, something will come up where you’ll desperately want something not on your diet. And then you feel like a failure because you broke the diet.
Diets always measure “success” in days, weeks, or months, because the reality is, it never lasts long term.
Diets set you up to crave even more sweets.
When you tell a toddler he can’t have the green crayon, what does he immediately want? The green crayon. He throws a temper tantrum if you won’t give him the green crayon. After a while, you get so sick of him screaming about the crayon that you give it to him so he’ll stop his tantrum.
And so it is with dieting. You tell yourself you can’t have cake, cookies, bread, or chocolate, so what do you think about all day long? The cakes, cookies, bread, and chocolate. You’re consumed with it, you dream about it, and you fantasize about ways you can eat one a piece of cake without having it “count.”
Your forbidden foods seem to be consuming your thoughts and soon, you’re so sick of fighting an internal battle and thinking about cakes and cookies 24/7 that you give in so all of the fighting stops.
The nature of something being forbidden means you’re much more likely to want, need, and crave it.
Diets take you further and further away from learning to listen to your body.
Diets work in direct opposition to intuitive eating. They’re based on strict rules and foods you can’t eat. There isn’t room to check in with your body, allow your needs/wants to arise, and nourish your body accordingly.
“Success” is based on adhering to a system that’s prescribed. If there are rules you have to abide by, you can bet that the diet does not encourage listening to your body. Instead of learning how to tap into your body’s own intuition, you only eat what’s on the list of “acceptable” foods.
Lasting weight loss requires that you are in touch with your body, that you understand what it needs and wants, and that you pay enough attention to yourself that you are aware of how/why you use food. And when you diet, it takes you farther away from listening to your own body’s wisdom.
Diets create a sense of separation from yourself.
Because diets operate on strict rules and guidelines, it creates a sense of separation from your body. Your body becomes this “thing” you’re fighting against. You wage war on it, you deprive it, and you punish it.
The sense of separation grows as you work against your body, attempting to punish it into a place of weight loss.
A diet is essentially a battle with yourself, and the more you diet, the more the distance you create between you and your body. The way back to hearing your body’s messages is through listening, honoring, and nourishing yourself (which dieting will never do for you!)
Remember that dieting never brings about the results you truly want. Lasting change begins with awareness, love, and self-compassion as you start to understand your food patterns and behaviors.
Severe diet image via Shutterstock