Dieting Can Make you Gain Weight!

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March 1, 2013 by Leslie Phillips, RD, LD

National Nutrition Month (NNM) is celebrated in March every year and this year’s theme is, “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” This is an excellent message and something that we should practice every day of the year, not only in March.  Often times when we want to lose weight we jump on the latest diet craze and attempt to “eat healthy” for a few weeks, only to fall short of our goal and go off the diet.

Following a diet can make us stop listening to our bodies. When you follow a strict pattern of eating certain items, in certain amounts and at certain times it takes away one of the best ways to control your weight, which is to eat only when we are hungry and stop eating when we are full. 
To stop eating when you are full is a simple concept but it takes self-awareness, self-control and often times, a lifestyle change.  Our children have been doing it all along; therefore, they typically do a better job with weight control than we do.  Most kids stop eating when they are full, and do not eat unless they are hungry. Some families or parents tell them that they have to eat because it is dinner time and they must clean their plates. This is not the message we want to send, instead we need to teach children to stop eating when they are full. We should follow their intuitive eating and only eat when we are hungry and do not eat everything in front of us just because it is on our plate. You can always save it for the next meal to avoid being wasteful. 
Before you start preparing your meal or going to the fridge, ask yourself "Am I eating because I am hungry? Or am I eating because it’s “time” to have lunch or because I’m bored, etc.” 
Developing the ability to only eat when you are truly hungry and stop eating at the 1st sign of fullness can make the difference between someone who has the ability to lose weight and someone who seems to always be on a “diet”, yet they continue to struggle with weight gain. This problem happens because following specific diet guidelines are difficult to adhere to for the rest of your life and they force you to give up control and decision making with regard to your dietary intake.
When you think about being on a “diet” that generally means short term. “I’m going on this diet or that diet until I lose 20 pounds!”  We need to stop doing a temporary fix and start focusing on lifestyle changes.  NNM’s theme of “Eating Right, Your Way, Every Day” should be our focus, as opposed to eating a certain way because a diet tells us to. 
With that being said… we also should make wise choices.  There are plenty of ways to eat healthy without having to deprive yourself of foods you love.  If you force yourself to eat food that you don’t like but you know is “healthy”, chances are you won’t be able to keep that up long term and will be right back where you started. 
A great way to “have your cake and it eat too” is to practice recipe modification. Pick your favorite dish and make slight modifications to make it a healthier version of the original. This version may be healthier, but most of the time you will find that you cannot taste the difference.
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