I feel like this post needs to come with a disclaimer.
Women are VERY protective of their diets. I know this because I have been there, done that, got the "I-Suck-At-Dieting" t-shirt. For some reason, we defend our diets and struggle to hear opinions contrary to what we believe or are trying to believe.
So, that said, I am wading into the minefield that is Diet Land with my hands up. I hope that you will find this post enlightening, helpful and encouraging. That it will give you freedom from having to follow someone else's rules for the rest of your life. If you find some nuggets, take them. If you disagree and want to disavow all knowledge and association with me, I understand (we will miss you!!!). As always, take it all with a grain of sea salt and find what's true for YOU.
Ok, here we go! Let's talk about Self-Sabotage and Dieting!
For this topic, Diet will be defined as "eating according to someone else's rules".
There are 3 ways that diets keep you locked in a cycle of self-sabotage. But before we get to number one, you need to know that Diets do NOT = healthy. The number one thing I hear from clients is that they "want to get healthy". Normally if that's how you feel, you go on a diet.
"Getting healthy IS NOT synonymous with dieting"
Defining what "healthy" is and looks like is a topic for another day. So, let's get back to self-sabotage, shall we?
1) Diets demand that you utilize Willpower.
Willpower is exerting control to restrain your impulses. It will fail you 99% of the time when you diet because:
-You are working AGAINST your PRIMAL NEEDS. You are biologically hardwired to eat more and move less, which is the antithesis of most diets. When you switch that to eat less and move more, you are automatically setting yourself up for failure.
-When you tell yourself "NO" on a diet, you anger the inner rebel in your brain. The inner rebel wants to do whatever the heck it wants when it wants to. When you restrict your food choices, it causes a power struggle between what you want in the moment and what you want long term.
-It triggers limiting beliefs about your ability to affect lasting change in your life. How many diets have you been on? How many have you successfully sustained? The more you attempt to "do a diet" and fall off the wagon, the less likely you are to feel successful. You build up a track record of not sticking to your goals which sets you up for failure to make long term changes.
2) Every diet restricts calories.
Calories are measurements of energy that foods contain. Your daily need for calories changes daily and is very hard to calculate without special equipment like a Bod Pod or in a lab.
-Restricting calories can cause hormone imbalances. You have hunger hormones called Leptin (the fullness hormone) and Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) are very sensitive and respond to restriction in calories. When you restrict nutrients and calories, you risk increasing leptin resistance and increasing ghrelin. That will make it harder and harder to lose weight over the long run. Balancing these hormones is the key to blood sugar stability and proper metabolic function.
-When you cut calories, your body is going to seek out the missing energy. It can come in the form of cravings, hunger pangs and increased snacking. Your body goes into a kind of starvation mode, especially if you restrict too many calories at once.
-It is incredibly difficult to accurately calculate calories burned and consumed. Without weighing each and every thing you put in your mouth, it is very hard to get an exact count. You learn to eat by numbers, not by choice. Eating by numbers creates a disordered relationship with food which will not help you in the long run.
3) One Size Fits All Approach
-Diets don't take your unique person into account. Most give a general recommendation for your macronutrients (Carbs, Fats and Proteins) based on generic information like age, height, weight and gender. You are SOOO much more complex than that!!!
-They don't take into account your history with food, disorder eating patterns, stress level, amount of sleep that you do/don't get, your work life, your metabolic type and rate, your specific goals or address your challenges with diets in the past. It's all very One Size Fits All, even if it is "customizable".
-Diets moralize foods. This is a BIG one! When you are on a diet, there are "good" and "bad" foods. Some have more calories, carbs, sugars, points than others. You are prescribed to eat the good foods which tend to not be what your inner rebel wants. When you eat a "bad" food, you FEEL bad. If you do this often enough (ie: cheat, fall off the wagon, get off track, slip- whatever you want to call it) it will lead to feeling so much guilt over your "bad choices" that you eventually feel SHAME (I am BAD). Which makes you more susceptible to binging and disordered eating.
So, if diets aren't the answer, what is?
First, you need to really understand what you want.
Do you want to be healthier? Healthy is an abstract and subjective idea that varies person to person. You have to learn to define what True Health looks like for you and what that entails.
Do you want to lose weight? You have to ask yourself what you want and how much your willing to give up to get it. Losing weight and keeping it off is HARD and takes a tremendous amount of effort.
Do you want to look better naked? If you aren't happy with yourself and your life now, you will not be any happier 10 pounds from now. Our culture says you just need to be physically smaller to be happy. Trust me, it's not true. Weight loss can actually do the opposite, especially if you gain the weight back.
Do you want to feel a sense of control over your food? Diets give a false sense of control, especially if you feel out of control in other areas of your life. Awareness of stressors and areas within your control will give you ACTUAL control, not a perceived sense of it.
Confidence Experience: Sit down and write down what it is that you are hoping your diet of choice will give you. Is it realistic? (PS, it is incredibly difficult to burn fat. Keto is not all it's cracked up to be) Is it sustainable? What do REALLY want? What unmet needs in your life are driving you to start a diet?
Think about past diet experiences and write down what your obstacles were. What stopped you from feeling successful? What gets in your way of having a body AND life that you cherish??
I hope you come to see that what you NEED isn't another diet, but some direction in how to end body shame and embrace body acceptance. That you need to learn how to get your needs met so you can have a life you love. To learn how to balance True Health and wellness with everyday life. If this is where you land, awesome!!! Either way, I would love to hear your thoughts and struggles.
If you're ready for the next step, schedule a Clarity Call with me! It's a free 15 minute call to help us determine what your next best steps are. You can find that here!