By: Julia Yuskavage, MS, RDN
I think most people can agree that the last few months of 2018 have been filled with weight loss television commercials, radio ads for diet programs, and coupons for herbal products that promise a quick fix for “losing that stubborn body fat”. There is a reason for all of this - the dieting industry continues to profit big time from selling these kinds of products. Many times, people believe that if they were able to lose weight or fit into a smaller clothing size, then they might feel happier about themselves and their lives. However, I wonder how much truth there is in this belief.
What many people don’t know, or don’t want to believe, is that the companies that bombard you with these advertisements have a common goal: to sell you something.
Some of the questionable ideas hidden in these messages might sound like…
Lose those last 10 pounds and you will be happier!
Stop eating carbs and people will notice you!
Reduce your belly fat and your dating life will improve!
Give up “bad” foods and you will feel better about yourself!
Drop 3 dress sizes and you will have finally accomplished something worthwhile!
In fact, a leader of a weight loss corporation has been quoted as saying that their product is great for business because people who use it will inevitably fail, thus returning for more of it (i.e.: buying it) again and again and again. That makes me feel frustrated for people who are using these systems and working hard to meet their nutritional goals/needs.
The reality is that there is no magical number on the scale or measuring tape that will make you feel whole. What diets often lead to are vicious cycles of food restriction, low energy levels, moodiness, overeating, and feelings of guilt, shame, and failure – that then leads to food restriction all over again.
“If you just tried hard enough and did a better job at dieting, you wouldn’t be a failure” is the message that the diet industry is trying to sell. It’s no wonder that the temptation is so high to try a different diet approach each time you feel like a “failure”. Diets often do not lead to long-term health and happiness; instead, they often lead to disordered eating and even early mortality associated with eating disorders.
We’re here to remind you that it’s okay to love yourself JUST the way you are. Accepting yourself and working through the underlying emotions that fuel your desire to diet and lose weight can be a path to freedom.
So often we see clients who are torn between wanting to end dieting once and for all, yet also wanting to lose weight because they believe doing so will lead to happiness. It can be tough to feel like you are stuck between wanting to follow a non-diet approach, yet also wanting to lose weight. If one is willing, there can be a sense of freedom that comes with giving up self-imposed dietary rules, learning to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues (or eating intuitively), and accepting yourself for the unique individual that you are. Intuitive eating is referenced as a “dynamic process – integrating attunement of mind, body, and food”(1). The great news is that you have the skills to eat intuitively inside you already – you were born with them; they just got pushed way down, buried under all the societal pressures and norms that have tried for so long to convince you otherwise. If this is how you are feeling/what you are noticing, it might be time to work on letting that skill resurface and start walking the path towards healing your relationship with food and your body. If you would like to learn more about intuitive eating, or if you have concerns about your current eating habits, we are here to help.
Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating. A Revolutionary Program That Works; 2012:1-344.