Clearing the Path for Successful Weight Management
Dieters striving for success in their efforts to manage their weight may have more than just unwanted pounds to lose. First, they have to shed some common myths about dieting.
Myths about dieting instil false hopes in people striving to manage their weight, misleading them to formulate lofty expectations that only serve to frustrate their efforts and stunt their progress.
Indeed, there is little evidence – if any at all – to support three common myths about dieting, as reviewed in a recent edition of Healthy Weight Journal. Demystifying the myths about dieting and learning the trust about the effects of calorie restriction are important steps in beginning to give up dieting and start eating normally as part of a healthy lifestyle that supports success at weight management.
Myth #1: Dieting makes you thin.
Most people who lose weight by dieting eventually regain the pounds, and most gain back even more than they lost. A review by the National Institutes of health of all published studies on the efficacy of weight loss treatments indicates that people, regardless of their weight, lost an average of only 10 pounds over many weeks and months of dieting (and for many of these people, 10 pounds was a trivial amount of weight). Further, most of the weight lost was regained within one year, and almost all of the weight, for all of the people, was regained within five years.
What’s the reason for the lack of success? The authors of the article speculate that one reason may be the body’s natural reaction against weight loss. That’s not to say that we can’t optimize our natural tendencies in the weight arena, but the fact remains that genes predispose some people to obesity, particularly when they are in an environment that promotes overfeeding.
And that leads us to the second reason for the lack of success most people see with dieting. The inability to lose significant amounts of weight, or maintain weight loss, through dieting likely has a lot to do with the overeating that occurs when people go off the diet. You’ve heard it here before: If dieters think they’ve eaten foods they shouldn’t (which usually means beloved, high-calorie foods), they usually abandon their diets and splurge on large quantities of “forbidden” foods.
Myth #2: Dieters eat less than non-dieters.
Not so. Studies show that restrained eaters (or dieters) often consume more snacks and eat more frequently than unrestrained eaters (normal eaters). Overeating and increased hunger occur after periods of physical and psychological deprivation induced by periods of food restriction. The consequence? Very often, it’s a binge.
Myth #3: Dieting makes you happier.
Wrong again. Instead, the outcome of dieting seems to be the opposite – feelings of depression, anxiety and frustration. The fluid loss and empty stomach in the early stages of dieting are, in effect, come-ons. They offer encouragement to the dieter, but within a short period of time, the “baggage” attached to dieting begins to produce negative effects. The dieter can’t eat when, where or what she wants. Socializing becomes unappealing if the dieter is determined to stick with her diet. Some dieters become irritable and energy-depleted due to hunger. And obsession with food and eating begin to cloud the dieter’s ability to think about other things.
It’s not hard to see why Americans are struggling with an obesity epidemic, given that for several decades, most of the American population seemed to be permanently “on a diet.” Fortunately, more and more of us – and the health professionals who work with us – are getting the message that diets don’t work. As we have long promoted at Green Mountain, if we change our focus to health, we will take care of our weight. As important is the fact that achieving and maintain a state of health can be an enjoyable process. The keys are normal eating that includes the foods you love in amounts that leave you satisfied without feeling stuffed, regular physical activity that you enjoy, effective stress management, and feeling good about ourselves and our bodies, no matter what our weight. It helps to remember, as one speaker noted at a recent conference we attended, “Life is too short for self-hate and celery sticks!”