WHY DIETS SELL YOU FALSE HOPE

With so many diets on the market touting magical solutions, it’s hard to know what you can believe. Learn why it’s more important for your health to tune out the noise of another empty promise. 


BY: KATHERINE METZELAAR, MSN, RDN, CD

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘dieting’?

Is it one of the all-too-popular keto, Paleo, pegan, vegan, or Whole30 diets? Is it juice cleansing, “clean” eating, dairy-free, gluten-free, or raw? Or is it large packages of vacuum-packed diet meals or shakes?

Whatever thoughts it conjures up, most of you are familiar with dieting and the many garden varieties it comes in.

By now, the concept of dieting has been passed down through generations of your family members and your circles of friends, all of which teach you the secrets and tips on how to eat less, stretch your points, when to drink water, and the right times of day to weigh yourself.

Or you may have been told by a doctor or other health practitioner to lose weight in the name of “health”, and a restrictive diet was suggested to you. Perhaps you read about the “evils” of the food industry, prompting you to cut out many foods in the name of wellness and health.

And for some, you may find yourself hating your body, and have tried many times over to make it look like what society tells you it should be.

You strive to mold it into something that is smaller, and takes up less space.

With each new diet or restrictive eating endeavor, there is often hope.  Hope for a new body, a new life, and accomplishing new things in life once you reach that ideal number on the scale that tells you that you’re worthy enough.

Do you remember experiencing a “high” of sorts at the excitement of losing weight, of starting a new diet? How long did this last? And what happened when you started to grow tired of eating the same foods? What happened when you started to crave foods that were not permitted on your diet?

You likely ate too much or binged on those same foods, felt guilty, and decided to “blow” your diet with a promise to yourself to start again tomorrow.

With each failed diet attempt, a learned feeling of helplessness and disempowerment increases. Over time, this can cause you to stop believing in your innate ability to even know what satisfies your body. Each time, your preoccupation with food increases, food cravings magnify or increase, and your self esteem decreases.

Does this feel familiar?

When you decide to diet, what you choose to eat is determined by rigid rules without regard for your food preferences, energy needs, or hunger levels, all of which can trigger feelings of deprivation.

It erodes trust in your body because the rules guide your food choices, regardless of how you feel. It’s been selling you false hope all along.

So take a step back, and start allowing the experiences of your body guide you again.

Cultivate self-compassion, and understand how dieting has interfered with your life.  Explore the benefits of letting go of the rigid rules you’ve been living by, and relearn the tools your body has naturally gifted you with.

And most of all, have patience for the long process of learning how to listen and respond to your body. After all, it may have been long lost.

But start today, and you’ll find real hope again.

Adapted from the original article.

Katherine Metzelaar, MSN, RDN, CD is a Seattle-based registered dietitian and nutrition therapist who helps individuals repair their relationship with food free from perfectionism, fear, and shame. She works with clients to create more flexibility and freedom with food, giving them the tools to decrease their fear of food. Learn more about Katherine at Bravespace Nutrition.

 

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