Scared of food... making you fat

“I looked at him nonplussed. I realized that I have spent so many years being on a diet that the idea that you might actually need calories to survive has been completely wiped out of my consciousness. I have reached point where believe nutritional ideal is to eat nothing at all, and that the only reason people eat is because they are so greedy they cannot stop themselves from breaking out and ruining their diets.” ― Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary

Whenever I work with someone that wants to lose weight - I notice that they have become afraid of food (and many different food groups) - they have become scared that eating a substantial breakfast will cause them to put on weight, or will trigger them to over-eat all day, that feeling full will mean that they will become even more unhappy with their appearance... food has become a scary thing. Perhaps they are afraid that carbs will make them fat, or that eating avocados/olive oil is going to make them suddenly put on lots of pounds or even that eating 3 square meals a day will detrimentally affect their health. Now it is not their fault that they feel this way - this is something that diet culture has created! Diets force us to categorise foods as “good and “bad”, create a fear around certain “banned” foods and even tell us that losing weight is simple - all you have to do it “eat less and exercise more” - so these people feel it is important for them to starve themselves in order to lose weight.

However this is an incredibly dangerous way of thinking. I see many of my clients starve themselves for a day or two or even a morning - (thinking that all they need to do is eat less and exercise more) - only to feel physically very hungry and then binge-eat on lots of “unhealthy” or “off-limit” foods ...because “what’s the point this stuff doesn’t work anyway”. - And yes - starvation does not work! In order to actually lose weight and develop a healthier relationship with food (long-term) it is actually key to eat enough of lots of healthy foods - so your body does not feel deprived. (And by healthy foods, I mean a broad range of foods from lots of different food groups - because in order to be healthy diversity is important too).

As Robin Fox nicely explains "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.

Any anyway, the model of “eating less and exercising more” or just counting calories really over-simplifies things. Evidence shows that our calculation of calories over-estimates calories obtained from a high fibre diet i.e. when our diet is high in fibre, we actually take in less calories from our food than with a lower-fibre diet. Also by eating a healthy and varied diet, we can improve the sta