In our culture, eating is social. We gather with our loved ones around the dinner table. We have lunch with our business associates. We go out to dinner with friends. We join each other for birthday parties. The list goes on…
Food gives us pleasure and comfort.
Oh, and there’s that whole thing…you have to eat to live, right?
So why do some of us have such a hard time losing weight or making healthy and mindful decisions when it comes to our food? Why don’t diets work?
Well…there are many reasons…and probably not what you think. If you ever had a problem sticking to a diet, then you have likely experienced one or more of the following:
- Emotional Eating
- Food Cravings
- Food Intolerances
- Unrealistic Expectations
There are many things that can lead to emotional eating:
- You have a bad day at work and at the end of the day grab that chocolate cake, then the ice cream, then the cookies. You feel great while eating. Then you feel guilty…and eat more cake and more ice cream and more cookies.
- Maybe you hate the way you look? You try so hard and get nowhere. You try even harder and just give up. You feel like such a loser because you failed on yet another diet.
- Maybe you had a crappy childhood? Your parents set strict eating rules and restricted your access to food, or you were abused or lonely.
When you are dealing with these issues, you often feel guilt and shame. You feel like no one understands. Others tell you to just do this or just do that, but they don’t get it!
Many diets set you up for failure because your body is not getting what it needs. You may end up with cravings for food that you may have not ever had before you started the diet.
Often a food craving is your body’s signal to your brain that, “Hey, I’m lacking something, here. Help me out!”
That “something” could be:
- A few or all of the above
Cravings can also be caused by food sensitivities, low blood sugar, or hormonal changes.
When you have a food craving, you feel like you are spinning out of control. You MUST HAVE that piece of candy! If you tell yourself not to eat that candy, that only makes you want it more! You are human and only have so much willpower.
You could have a food intolerance or sensitivity. You might or might not be aware of it.
Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities are sneaky little things. You probably wouldn’t associate that piece of bread with jelly you ate on Monday with the joint pains, headache, and brain fog you are experiencing on Thursday.
A few of the foods to which you might have a sensitivity are:
Many popular diet plans include some, if not all, of these foods. If you eat them and don’t know that you have a sensitivity, you are left scratching your head. You know you did everything exactly according to the program. Yet you gained ten pounds and your joints hurt! What’s up with that?
Have you ever started a diet and had unrealistic expectations? You tell yourself, “All right. Here we go. I am going to lose twenty-five pounds in the next month and twenty-five the following month.” Or, “Okay. I am starting the Celery Diet*. I just got twelve pounds of celery from the store, and that’s all I am going to eat until I get to my goal weight.” (*Note: This is only something I made up. I know there are some crazy diets out there, but I hope this is not a real thing. Oh, yeah, and just for the record…Please, PLEASE DO NOT try the Celery Diet. Okay? Thank you.)
You might lose a bunch of weight and think you can go back to your old habits. Then you gain back the weight you lost…and usually even more. The big problem is that when you start a new diet, the weight that you lose is usually due to fluid and muscle loss. It can be encouraging to lose a lot of weight, but don’t think this means you can fall back into your prior habits.
When you have unrealistic expectations that are unmet, you will likely become frustrated and give up. You think that you did something wrong and that you are broken. You feel like a failure, which leads you back to your old habits.
Emotional eating, food cravings, food intolerances, and unrealistic expectations are only four reasons why diets don’t work. There are SO many other reasons, but these seem to be the most common.
The best diets are the ones you can stick to long-term. They don’t involve calorie restriction, crazy shakes, or pills. They are the ones where you make a lifestyle change that you want to make–for YOU. They don’t feel like diets. They are the sum of healthy choices that you made for yourself because you deserve it.
And you DO deserve it.
And. You. Matter! (Yes, I am talking to YOU!)