O.K. You’ve heard it, read it, said it to yourself, yet you continue to do it, so I’ll tell you again, just in case you didn’t believe it: DIETS DON’T WORK! That’s not to say they won’t work for a few weeks, months, or even a year or two but eventually they don’t work and the dieter feels frustrated and like a failure. So why do people continue to put themselves on diets? I think it’s because they don’t know what else to do.
We live in a culture that is fixated on physical beauty for women and for men. A desirable body size in this culture isn’t the body size many people inherited. If everyone in your family is big boned and leans toward the plump side, you might find that’s your body type as well. And haven’t we all heard about “six pack abs?” Admittedly men seem to be more visual than women but women have their biases as well. So people who find themselves not fitting into the “beautiful people” category are often not happy with themselves.
And an odd thing happens to people when they don’t like their body size. They often use food to make themselves feel better or to numb out and not feel the distress they were feeling before eating. You can see the dilemma here: you don’t like your body size so you eat to forget or to make yourself feel better and that only works for the time you’re eating and maybe a few minutes after but guilt shows up pretty quickly after a person eats for the above reasons. And then guess what happens? The person gains weight. And then? The person really dislikes what they look and feel like. They believe they don’t fit in or they won’t be liked or they won’t ever find a partner and the list goes on…
Some of those fears are based in truth. Because, as I said, we live in a culture that is youth and beauty oriented. What is also true is that a person with a few extra pounds (I say a few because a morbidly obese person is endangering their health and should deal with the problem for that reason) can be liked and loved just like anyone else. It’s the personality of an overweight person that makes them loveable or not and that’s true for thin people as well.
But let’s just say you don’t believe any of that and you just want to be thin so you’ll be loved and approved of so you put yourself on a diet or join any number of diet groups. Weight Watchers is the only group that works and even that group doesn’t always produce lasting results. I say Weight Watchers because Weight Watchers allows you to eat whatever you want to eat as long as you count the points. So you’re not depriving yourself with that plan.
And that’s the key word: DEPRIVATION. Humans will only tolerate deprivation for so long and then they will stop depriving themselves and eat double, triple, quadruple, what they are “supposed to eat.” So there goes the weight loss and here comes even more pounds and more misery and frustration.
Would you do it if I told you to stop depriving yourself? Probably not. You might agree that you will but when you’re eating that piece of chocolate cake you’re telling yourself you better eat a lot of it because this is the last time you’re ever going to eat chocolate cake again because it is BAD for you. No it’s not.
Go to Baskin Robbins and watch skinny women eat ice cream and compare that with fat women eating ice cream. Skinny women come in and order a double scoop of whatever they like, on a waffle cone that’s been dipped in chocolate and nuts. It hasn’t occurred to them they should do it any other way. They order what they want. Often a fat woman, not always but often, will come in and orders a junior scoop of ice cream in a cup. It’s not what she wants but it’s what she’s told herself she’s allowed to have. The skinny woman sits down and eats as much as she likes, sometimes she finishes, and sometimes she gets up and tosses part of it into the trash because she’s had enough. The fat woman sits down and eats every precious morsel as if it’s the last ice cream scoop in the world and she makes sure there’s nothing left in that cup to put on her spoon before she tosses the empty cup into the trash.
Some people seeing these two women might think that that’s the way it should be. The skinny girl is skinny so she can eat whatever she likes. The fat woman is fat so she shouldn’t be eating ice cream at all so one small scoop is at least not over-indulging.
NO ONE ever thinks that they are witnessing the cause, the process, by which overweight women and men remain fat. But think about it for a minute. The fat people don’t allow themselves to eat what they want in exactly the amount they want. They parse out a tiny, unsatisfying amount, which sets up a terrible feeling of deprivation so that person, feeling deprived, is going to eat twice as much or more, the next time they’re around food or maybe the next time they can eat without anyone watching so they can really eat a lot. The skinny girl stays skinny by not depriving herself! The fat person gets fatter because they deprive themselves and eat more later.
So if you want to lose weight, don’t be a terrorist to yourself. Yes, eat healthy food but remember American food portions are huge and not necessary. So eat some fruit, vegetables, protein. fiber most days but recognize that all of that can be made into one giant smoothie sweetened with artificial sweetener and there are many other ways to get good nutrition without eating more than you want in portions and in calories. It’s all about calories and they can come in any shape or flavor you like. A unit of energy in has to be burned as a unit of energy out if weight is going to be maintained. Less units in and more units out will cause weight loss. many women indulge in ihcg injections which can boost the process of weight loss. If you’re out and everyone is having fried chicken and you really like and want fried chicken, have a piece of fried chicken, have two if that’s what you want. But don’t stuff it in. Slow down. Enjoy the flavor. Know that you can have as much chicken or cake or ice cream or whatever it is you really like, whenever you want and that you never have to eat more than you’re really hungry for at that moment because it’s not the last time you’re going to allow yourself to eat it. And after you’ve enjoyed the food you like, notice whether or not you’re still hungry. Learn to make trade-offs with yourself so you’re always eating what you like but you’re also balancing how many calories a day you’re eating by eating like this for example:
You go to a child’s birthday party and they’re serving cake and ice cream and you love cake and ice cream. Give yourself permission to have cake and ice cream. When you see bowls of chips and nuts set out on the table, ask yourself how much you really want of those too (remembering that you’re always going to allow yourself to eat whatever foods you enjoy so you don’t set up the dreaded deprivation process) and have what you want. If you want a rule here it is:
NEVER, EVER, PUT ANYTHING IN YOUR MOUTH YOU DON’T REALLY WANT TO EAT! AND NEVER EAT SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO EAT IT.
If you skip dinner because you had cake and ice cream and you’re just not that hungry, you’re not going to become malnourished. If you go out to lunch with friends and you really want to have blueberry cobbler, more than anything else on the menu, skip the regular lunch and just order blueberry cobbler. If you know you’re going out to have a big dinner then maybe you would be fine planning to graze prior to dinner instead of having two meals and snacks before you get to the dinner. You could have some blueberries and yogurt for breakfast, a banana at mid-morning, a salad with just vegetables in it and a couple of tablespoons of light dressing for lunch, and a low calorie protein bar mid-after noon and then for dinner eat what you want to eat, never more, never less, don’t worry about the starving children in Africa, you can’t send them what you leave on your plate. If you don’t leave anything on your plate, that’s just fine. And have dessert if you want dessert. You’ve planned for your meal, not enjoy it!
If you learn how to satisfy stomach hunger (I have to eat because my stomach feels really hungry) and mouth hunger (I want to eat because I love the flavor, crunch, texture, etc. even though I’m not particularly hungry), you can become an expert at manipulating food to your liking. You can become an expert at never depriving yourself and still lose weight.
I know, this sounds too good to be true, too easy, and that’s why most people won’t do it. Because it is easy and people who have been trying for years to lose weight are used to deprivation and emotional pain and anything less doesn’t feel like it will work. So when they try this plan they yo-yo back and forth: Stuff my face until my stomach hurts because I’ll never do this again and eating exactly what I want to eat, no more, no less, learning to create food that is low cal but will sustain me and give me pleasure and take away my feelings of hunger so I can eat something I really, really like, too.
Protein is an excellent appetite killer so you’ll have better luck having a low cal energy bar (the Atkins Diet bars have the most protein for the least amount of calories, just stay away from the Atkins Diet) than half an apple and a carrot (you won’t be satisfied and you’ll be hungry again in half an hour).
And most importantly: GIVE UP THE GUILT! It isn’t helping you. In fact, it’s hurting you because you’ll eat when you feel guilty and you’ll eat for all the wrong reasons without thinking about any of the things I’ve outlined above.
This is just a brief outline. It’s the nuts and bolts of becoming a more balanced and happier person, and you can use it instead of staying on the Merry-Go-Round of dieting and binging. If you’d like more support, coaching, and education about this topic, as well as an in-depth look at how you got to the place of overeating, you can make an appointment via any of the methods I outline on the home page of my website.