Give your clients the choice of French fries or steamed vegetables and they know the healthier choice, right? So, why do diet programs focus only on what to eat, when it’s the why we need to address? We need to get clients, friends to want to make the better choice, and feel good about doing it. Eating patterns are the result of a lifetime of experiences. We learn to eat as a response to emotions and situations. We learn that desserts are rewards and vegetables are punishment. We learn to use food as a coping mechanism, a stress reliever and a social accompaniment. We were not born with these patterns. We learned them. We are, however, programmed to enjoy food.
So to ‘diet’ goes against our pre-wiring. We need to teach our clients, friends to re-learn new, more empowering behaviors and thought processes and how to pay attention to their body, so they eat only when hungry and stop eating when full. Teach them to choose healthful foods because it will make them feel good. When you go on diets, you make drastic changes in your eating and exercise behaviors that are well intentioned but too extreme to keep.
New health behaviors should be done in small steps, so that you don’t feel deprived and it is not an unpleasant experience. Focus on what you are adding to your life rather than what you are taking away from it. Your eating patterns have been in effect for a long time. Any pattern that is repeated day after day is resistant to change. Take any habit that you do regularly and then try to switch it. It’s not easy is it?
Your clients’ previous attempts at weight loss were probably unsuccessful because they tried to change their eating style all at once. Yes, they can do that for a day, a week, maybe even a year. But the only way to make lifetime changes is to make changes in your thought and behavior processes and that takes time. Decades ago, doctors came up with a dieting model that best exhibits the cycle your clients may be on.
Basically, it says that people diet because they are dissatisfied with their body. When you diet you feel deprived. Feeling deprived leads to overeating and overeating leads to greater dissatisfaction with your body and the cycle begins again. Anytime you eliminate total food groups from your diet, you are bound to feel deprived. That feeling of deprivation leads to the next step along the cycle, “overeating or bingeing”. You feel deprived because you can’t eat a slice of chocolate cake, so you later eat a whole one. And that’s after you’ve eaten everything else in sight so you wouldn’t eat the chocolate cake. The diet cycle is a dangerous one. It often leads to disordered eating or into a full-blown eating disorder. Besides that, the effect of yo-yo dieting actually slows down the metabolism and has great health risks. I want to educate you for the long haul…remember diets are like holding your breath…you can only do it so long!
By: James McAllister