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The dangers of dieting

"Studies have shown that diets more often than not lead to weight gain! Because the body does not know the difference between dieting and starving, once a severe dietary regime is concluded it will voraciously store food as fat as a protection against further unreasonable onslaughts. But it is with diets that fashion and fads play their largest part. Diets have replaced the weather as the basic item of polite conversation.” - Robin Fox

Pretty much everyone that I work with has at some point put themselves on a diet. In fact, most people these days have put themselves on a diet at some point in their lives - even those people that are a healthy weight. I mean we are told loud and clear that ALL we need to do to lose weight is “eat less and exercise more”...but if it were that straightforward...why are we suddenly in the midst of an obesity epidemic? - It is because this very advice is actually incredibly dangerous!

So many people who come to work with me tell me that they are sure the only way their “thin” friends maintain their weight is by “always watching what they eat” - “keeping portion sizes small” - “always counting calories or points” - yet my experience with anyone that effortlessly maintains a healthy weight is that this is exactly what THEY DON’T DO - in fact they don’t even try and restrict themselves, they don’t even bother to count calories and points.

The problem with any form of restriction or dieting is that our brain mistakes this behaviour for starvation. So whilst we may be able to sustain the restrictive eating for a few weeks or even a few months... our primitive urges then drive us to over-eat, just to protect us against the starvation/deprivation that we have just inflicted on our bodies. This is when most dieters get frustrated - they have just put back on all of the weight that they worked so hard to lose (plus more)! Worse - dieting often leads to bouts of binge eating or bulimia - as the brain and body really rebel against food deprivation by encouraging over-eating to the extreme.

So standard the advice of “eat less and exercise more” over-simplifies the process of attaining great health. Technically yes eating less and moving more will make you lose weight BUT NOT in a way that is sustainable. In order for the weight loss/health improvements to be sustainable a complete change in mindset is required - as is an approach which looks at what you are eating, when you are eating, the nutrient=density of your foods and how much pleasure you are able to derive from food (because food is after all something pleasurable too).

At The Food Psychology Clinic we understand that the “eat less and exercise more” approach NEVER works long-term - if you are interested in a long-term solution to help you achieve your health goals email to find out more.

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