If New Year has inspired you to go on a diet you might be interested in knowing your chances of still being at your target weight two years later. The bad news is that only one in twenty people will keep the weight off – and out of the nineteen who don’t five will actually put weight on.
Given the poor chances of success with dieting what can you do to increase your chances of reaching a healthy body weight? You might be surprised to hear that the best thing you can do is simply to stop your diet. That can be enough to help you to start to lose weight,
The reason for this are the mental and physical effects of being on a diet. Quite simply dieting creates circumstances in your mind and body that make weight loss much harder to achieve.
A diet, whether for weight loss or ‘maintenance’, is a regime that you impose on yourself. Like any self-imposed regime it requires will power, and will involve feelings of deprivation. We know willpower isn’t an infinite resource and that at some point it will run out.
We also know the problem with deprivation from our own experiences. If we’re told that we can’t have something then it only becomes more attractive. The combination of willpower running out, and food forbidden by the diet becoming more attractive, leads to a pattern of cravings and binges.
The answer to this is to stop approaching food with a diet mind-set. If your relationship with food was one of comfort and reward trying to replace that with restriction and control won’t be useful. Instead of thinking about denying or starving yourself think instead about nourishing and nurturing yourself.
Once you give yourself permission to eat those feelings of deprivation will stop. Give yourself a couple of days to adjust to your new diet-free circumstances, and learn to trust yourself. When you do eat simply make sure that
• you’re eating because you’re hungry
• you eat mindfully, and not while you’re distracted by something else
• you respect portion sizes
When you stop looking at food through the lens of dieting making changes in your eating habits and your weight become much more possible. The changes won’t happen overnight, but then lasting change rarely does.
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