Dieting...It Can Make You Overweight

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September 1, 2017 by Leslie Phillips, RD, LD

Often, 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, get frustrated, and go off the diet.

When we follow a diet we stop listening to our bodies. Instead, we begin a pattern of eating specified items, in certain amounts, and at designated times. This routine takes away one of the best ways to control your weight, which is to eat only when hungry and stop eating full. Additionally, the same foods day in day out as prescribed by some diets gets boring, making it even harder to follow the diet long term.

It’s such a simple concept, but one that takes self-awareness, self-control and often, a lifestyle change.  Our children have been doing it all along and therefore typically do a better job with weight control than we do.  Most kids stop eating when they are full, and don’t eat unless they are hungry (unless their parent tells them that they have to eat because it’s dinner time and they must clean their plates). This is not the message we want to send — that they MUST clean their plates even if they are full. We should follow their intuitive eating habits and only eat when we are hungry and not eat everything in front of us. You can always save leftovers for the next meal to avoid being wasteful. So 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 for dinner or because I’m bored, etc.?”

Developing the ability to only eat when you are truly hungry and stop eating at the first 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. The results of their struggle are largely because following specific diet guidelines is difficult to do for the rest of their life and it forces the dieter to give up control with regard to their dietary intake.

When you only eat when you’re truly hungry, that’s a great start! But it doesn’t mean you can eat large portions of junk either. Making wise choices with moderate portion sizes goes without saying. We all know how to do this. We don’t need a written “diet” to tell us that a Big Mac and fries with pecan pie on the side is not a wise, healthy choice. We know fruits and vegetables are healthy, excellent choices. We know fried foods have fat and should be avoided. We know that cake, pie and chocolate have no (or very little) nutritional value but are packed with calories and fat. It takes will-power to avoid these things. It takes the true desire to really want to lose weight, control our weight and/or improve our health. We all have the ability and knowledge to eat healthy; we just need to commit to doing it.

Bacon L, Stern JS, Van Loan, MD, Keim NL. Size acceptance and intuitive eating improve health for obese female chronic dieters. J Am Diet Assoc.105:929-936.
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