Why give up diets?


Ditch the diets

Are you tired of obsessing over food? Always trying a new diet? To be full of hope at the beginning of the process, only to end up totally disillusioned a few days/weeks/months later with inconclusive or unsustainable results?
You are absolutely not alone in this situation.
Trying one more diet may feel like the only option or even seem like a social norm! But dieting can unfortunately lead you into a vicious circle of weight yo-yoing, as well as a negative spiral of a bad relationship with food.
In this first part of our Intuitive Eating article, we’ll explore on the surface why diets don’t actually work, and we’ll try to understand that the right long-term solution may just be somewhere else…

What do you mean by "diet"?

By the concept of a diet, we mean any attempt at voluntary weight loss through diet and/or sport. So as soon as there are dietary rules to follow on:
We are then on a diet.
So it is not necessary to follow an “official” diet to be on a diet, it is enough to impose the slightest dietary restriction that is not based on internal signals of the body such as hunger, satiety, tastes, etc.
Here are some obvious examples:
Here are some less obvious examples to grasp:
I’m not on a diet, but…

The consequences of diets

First, diets don’t work. I tell you again, they DO NOT WORK.
Research shows that for 95-98% of people, diets fail after 5 years and people will have regained all the weight and sometimes more!
Why do people continue then?
Because for many, it initially gives quick weight loss results.
Yes, it is encouraging at the time!
On the other hand, we blame ourselves afterwards.
We blame ourselves because we realize that the diet is not sustainable for long and because it only worked for a few days. On the other hand, we also feel helpless when we see that for us, nothing works, but for our neighbor/colleague/friend, it seems so easy to make it happen.
Therefore, let’s take a closer look at why diets inevitably fail in the long term and especially why this is in no way your fault. In fact, it is important to know that this is in no way due to a lack of will on your part. Rather, it’s related to the fact that it’s physiologically impossible for your body to maintain a diet over a long period of time.

Effects on metabolism

In summary, the body needs energy. It needs energy to move around, do physical activity, etc., but ESPECIALLY to simply keep us alive. To breathe, make our heart beat, digest, think, and many others. All of these functions (also called basal metabolism) use the majority of the energy we need.
This energy is calories.
If we do not give enough energy to our body in a repetitive way, this one in order to protect us from this voluntary starvation, will begin to use less energy to achieve its most vital goal. It’s a bit like a phone in power saving mode when the battery is low. If we use less energy, we will tend to store it more easily. Because of this, there is a risk of gaining weight.
My clients sometimes ask me “Why does the body keep piling on pounds like this? It is therefore very frustrating that my body does not understand what is good for me! »
On the contrary ! From a survival point of view, it is safer for the body to gain weight than to lose it. When it perceives a lack of food in the environment (food restriction), it then goes into reserve mode. As it experiences a threat to its survival, it will try to keep us alive as long as possible by storing calories!
In short, our body does its good job of protecting us, even in spite of ourselves! Cool isn’t it?

Impacts on eating habits

Other than metabolism, the restrictions impact our food choices from a more psychological perspective.
It is important to understand that food provides more than calories. They bring flavors, textures, comfort, charming memories, etc. In general, when we refuse certain foods to lose weight, they are most of the time those that are most associated with pleasure, comfort and reward. Forbidding ourselves from the foods we like increases our obsession with these foods and we inevitably end up losing control and consuming much more of them, whether at home or visiting others.
In addition to making our “forbidden” foods even more attractive, we at the same time make the so-called authorized foods much less interesting for our eyes and our taste buds. We see them as an obligation. So even if in theory we like carrots, we have less desire to eat them, because we always think of our favorite cookies or chips that we self-prohibit from eating.
We can even go so far as to develop a new, more pronounced taste for sugar and fat, therefore a fondness for foods that contain them, because the body knows that these foods are richer in energy. How beautiful nature is! The more we are attracted to them, the more likely we are to meet our energy needs and thereby survive.

Direction: intuitive eating!

If you are looking for a method that generates rapid weight loss, but does not last, I highly recommend diets. These will bring you frustration, guilt and even more confusion about your daily food choices.
But who wants that? IM asking you.
So, knowing that diets are doomed to keep you solidly in a yo-yo weight cycle and in a negative relationship with food, what can you do? Obviously, giving up diets for good is really not easy! Especially if it feels like it’s our only option available. Well, know that there is another one available to you!
Intuitive eating, which we will invite you to explore in the second part of this blog, will give you the opportunity to finally free yourself from these diets and really improve your relationship with food.
Danya Beauregard, Nutritionist, Dt.P., RD
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