So you've tried everything, and nothing has worked. More than likely, you've tried only one thing - to control your weight. So what's the alternative?
"I've tried everything, but nothing works."
If I had a quarter for every time this phrase has been uttered in my office...well, you get the point.
Before my clients start to work with me, they've tried a laundry list of diets. Gluten free, Whole 30, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, vegan, the grapefruit diet, intermittent fasting diet, low carb diet, Eat Right for Your Blood Type, juice cleanses, weight loss supplements, the Special K diet, macrobiotic diet, South Beach, Nutrisystem, vegetarian diet, fruitarian diet, alkaline diet, the Subway diet, Dukan diet, ketogenic diet, 800 calorie meal plans, 1,000 calorie meal plans, 1,200 meal plans, 1,400 calorie meal plans, 1,600 calorie meal plans....should I go on? I had one client who counted trying 46 different diets in her life!
With each diet, and each subsequent relapse, they feel like more and more of a failure.
Sometimes I see clients who tell me they've given up the restrictive diets of their past. Yet, they continue to struggle with unwanted eating behaviors and an all or nothing approach to food. It's because today, the line between what's a diet and what's not has gotten blurry. The most popular diets masquerade as a healthy lifestyle. Weight loss coaches, nutritionists and dietitians talk about making small changes and "strong is the new skinny" and "it's okay, eat the (gluten free, naturally sweetened, superfood, paleo) brownie!" But there are still rules and weight control is still the desired outcome. So it's a diet.
More and more, clients reach out to me after "failing" at intuitive eating, the ultimate non-diet approach to eating. For them, tuning into hunger/fullness cues has turned into a hunger/fullness diet. They feel guilty for eating past fullness or deprive themselves of things they truly want to eat just because they're not at the perfect amount of hunger. Or, intuitive eating has turned into a "no emotional eating diet," leading to even more guilt and shame when they turn to a bowl of ice cream after a bad day at work. In these cases, intuitive eating hasn't worked not because intuitive eating doesn't work but because it's being used as a way to control weight.
If you feel like you've tried everything and nothing has worked, the problem is that you've really only tried one thing - attempting to control your weight. And we all know the definition of crazy - doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.
Unless you're in a very small minority (3-5% according to most research), trying to control your weight is an attempt in futility. That's because despite the message touted by the diet industry, we have very little control over our weight. Each person has a set point range and your body will fight you to stay there. Perhaps the best known example is The Biggest Loser study that came out earlier this year (although multiple studies have shown this for decades, and with much less extreme weight loss). So unless your body is currently above it's set point range, any weight loss is not going to be sustainable.
And even if your body is above it's set point range (which is pretty difficult to know), dieting still isn't the answer. Psychologically, dieting or any purposeful attempt at weight loss leads to feelings of deprivation, which triggers binge eating, last supper eating, emotional eating, and "to hell with it" eating, and really any type of eating that's the opposite of health promoting.
Ready to hop off the diet train and try something that's truly different? On October 10th, we're launching our second group of Joyful Eating, Nourished Life, the 6 week online wellness program I launched along with non-diet dietitians Anne Mauney and Alex Caspero. Our weight neutral program is truly diet free! No rules to break or scales to stress over. The focus of our program is on making peace with food and your body and nurturing healthy habits from a place of self care, not self hate.
Here's what the last group had to say:
To sign up or learn more about the program, head to our website!