When Non-Dieting Doesn’t Seem to Work

Have you been here before?

“When I first stopped dieting and started to follow my internal cues for eating, I felt a lot better, and a big bonus was that I lost a fair amount of weight.

I don’t believe I was at my natural weight because of all the dieting I had done as well as my generally unhealthy lifestyle. But now, even though I’m eating mindfully and staying active, my weight loss has stalled. I think I should be losing weight. What am I doing wrong?”

Maybe nothing. Are you sure the weight you’re at isn’t right for you? Not all of us have to be thin to be healthy.

Explore this by looking closely at whether you are truly living a healthy lifestyle, getting regular physical activity and in general taking care of yourself. Do you eat well – not chaotically, but regular, well-balanced meals that leave you feeling well? Are other health parameters good, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar? What does the rest of your family look like? Are they all larger than the societal ideal? Are you older?

It’s not realistic to expect to weigh the same at 50 as you did at 20.

How to Reach Your Healthy Weight

If your answer still leads you to believe you’re carrying extra pounds that aren’t right for you, perhaps your mindful eating and living routine could use a little tweaking. Consider these questions.

  • Do you really eat only when you are hungry most of the time? Grazing – something that many of us do because of our busy lifestyles — commonly leads to overeating, especially in people who aren’t that tuned in to their hunger cues.
    • Carefully listen to your internal cues. If you’re not sure whether you’re really hungry, you likely aren’t. Stop eating when you feel like you’ve had enough to go for a while without eating again. Eating past that point regularly will make you less hungry for subsequent meals, and again, if you’re not proficient in listening to your hunger cues, you may end up overeating.
    • Make sure you’re eating enough, too. Sometimes we try too hard, and set ourselves up for overeating because we get too hungry.
    • Could you benefit from journaling to get a clear picture of your eating patterns?
  • Are you eating well-balanced meals and snacks? Include protein foods, starchy foods and vegetables &/or fruits in most of your meals.
    • Consider having foods from at least two of these groups for snacks. Balance provides a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrate that seems to “stick to our ribs,” helping us feel more satisfied at meals and be less hungry in between them.
    • Additionally, when we don’t eat what our bodies need nutritionally, we run the risk of distorting our internal cues by not giving our bodies the various nutrients they need to operate as they are designed to do.
  • Are you active? For those of us who need help hearing our internal cues, there’s nothing better than physical activity. It wakes our bodies up, helping us be more in touch with what’s going on inside. While research suggests that exercise alone doesn’t create weight loss, it is invaluable in helping us feel better and keep lost weight off.
    • If you’ve been physically active for a while, it might be time to bump up your routine. Our bodies get conditioned, and it may mean we need greater intensity or to invest more time to increase our fitness level.
    • Again, consider journaling to get a clear picture of your activity patterns. It’s not unusual for people to underestimate what they eat and overestimate the amount of physical activity they get.

If you’re struggling to listen to your internal cues, you might benefit from work with a professional who is skilled in helping you do this. Check in your area for registered dietitians who are experienced in helping people stop dieting.

Or maybe you need some focused time away from your many responsibilities. If so, consider a trip to Green Mountain at Fox Run. We’ve been helping women learn to listen to their bodies for 40 years.

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