Today many Americans view a healthy personal lifestyle as something difficult to attain and equally something that’s not much fun to maintain. Traditional diets have taught us that to lose weight, we must count calories, keep track of everything we eat, and deprive ourselves by limiting the amount and the kinds of foods we eat. Diets just don’t work.
Diets tell us exactly what and how much food to eat, regardless of our preferences and individual relationships with hunger and satiety.
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Dieting can help us lose weight (fat, muscle, and water) in the short term but is so unnatural and so unrealistic that it can never become a lifestyle that we can live with, let alone enjoy!
While very few diets teach healthy low-fat shopping, cooking, and dining-out strategies, many offer unrealistic recommendations and encourage health-threatening restrictions.
Even more important, diets don’t teach us the safest, most effective ways to exercise; they don’t teach us how to deal with our cravings and our desires, or how to attend to our feelings of hunger and fullness.
Eventually, we become tired of the complexity, the hunger, the lack of flavor, the lack of flexibility, the lack of energy, and the feeling of deprivation. We quit our diets and gain back the weight we’ve lost; sometimes we gain even more!
Frustration and Lack of Progress Kills Diets
Each time we go on another diet of deprivation, the weight becomes more difficult to lose, and we become even more frustrated and discouraged. Then we eat more and exercise less, causing ourselves more frustration, discouragement, depression.
Soon we are in a vicious cycle. We begin to ask ourselves, “Why bother?” We begin to blame ourselves for having no will power when what we really need is clear, scientifically-based information that will help us develop a healthier lifestyle we can live with for the rest of our lives.
Deliberate restriction of food intake in order to lose weight or to prevent weight gain, known as dieting, is the path that millions of people all over the world are taking in order to reach a desired body weight or appearance.
Preoccupation with body shape, size, and weight creates an unhealthy lifestyle of emotional and physical deprivation. Diets take control away from us.
Many of us who diet get caught in a “yo-yo” cycle that begins with low self-acceptance and results in structured eating and living because we lack trust in our body and are unwilling to listen and adhere to our body’s signals of hunger and fullness.
On diets, we distrust and ignore internal signs of appetite, hunger, and our need to be physically and psychologically satisfied. Instead, we depend on diet plans, measured portions, and a prescribed frequency for eating.
Diet Attitude Control is Essential
As a result, many of us have lost the ability to eat in response to our physical needs; we experience feelings of deprivation, then binge, and finally terminate our “health” program. This in turn leads to guilt, defeat, weight gain, low self-esteem, and then we’re back to the beginning of the yo-yo diet cycle. Rather than making us feel better about ourselves, diets set us up for failure and erode our self-esteem.
The attitudes and practices acquired through years of dieting are likely to result in a body weight and size obsession, low self-esteem, poor nutrition and excessive or inadequate exercise.
Weight loss from following a rigid diet is usually temporary. Most diets are too drastic to maintain; they are unrealistic and unpleasant; they are physically and emotionally stressful. And most of us just resume our old eating and activity patterns. Diets control us; we are not in control.
People who try to live by diet lists and rules learn little or nothing about proper nutrition and how to enjoy their meals, physical activity, and a healthy lifestyle.
No one can realistically live in the diet mode for the rest of their life, depriving themselves of the true pleasures of healthy eating and activity.