At my heaviest weight and lowest point emotionally, I had an epiphany.
I remember a voice in my head going: “You’re not supposed to feel so afraid of food.”
And that voice was right.
With my growing waistline spilling over my jeans, most of my pants no longer going past my thighs, and my self-esteem at an all-time low, I was terrified of the food I was bingeing on because when they were in front of me, I couldn’t say “no”. I felt completely out of control. I’d Googled ‘crash diet’ out of desperation, but reading through the instructions that came with these diets, I knew that they wouldn’t work for me.
Sure, there were days when I tried to eat as little as I could, but the end result was always the same: A mega binge that left me feeling guilty and even worse than before. Deep down inside, I knew that I wanted to build a healthy relationship with food and keep eating everything I loved. What I didn’t want was to live with extreme restrictions and more dysfunction around food.
So I decided to work on my eating habits and the issues that surrounded them instead. I took baby steps, making mistakes and learning from them, and along the way, helping others do the same. If your body and mind are telling you to stop dieting, listen.
Here are 3 big signs to look out for:
- The diet you’re on feels like a huge struggle.
- You’ve got the shopping list, the diet plan, calorie counter and all the right foods stocked up in your pantry. But…the thought of eating another hard-boiled egg or can of tuna for dinner is filling you with dread, so you finally give in to that pizza craving you’ve been having for the past 5 days.
- You don’t feel healthy or balanced. You’ve got a party to go to tonight, but instead of looking forward to it, you’re already thinking: “How am I going to stick to my diet with all that food around?”
While restricting all the ‘bad’ stuff from your meals may seem like a good idea at first, if you’re not eating foods you love, you’re not going to stick with the plan. A less sexy but more sustainable and realistic option: Developing habits that support your weight loss, one step at a time. The longer you’re able to practice these habits, the more likely you’ll lose the excess weight and keep it off for good.
On top this consistent anxiety around food and calorie counting, you’re also dealing with one or a combination of the following: mood swings, constantly feeling like you’re running low on energy, having trouble focusing at work, and experiencing intense cravings for foods that you’re not ‘allowed’ to eat.
You know that something isn’t right, but you just don’t know how else to drop those pounds. But here’s the thing: There is a safer and healthier way to lose weight. It’s just going to take a little longer. While the promise of quick weight loss can be tempting, try considering the following questions before you decide to go ahead with a particular diet:
- Can I see myself eating these foods every day, for the rest of my life?
- Will it support my physical and emotional health?
- Will it help me reach my weight loss goal and keep the results in the long term?
If you’ve answered “no” to any of them, it probably isn’t right for you. The weight isn’t coming off. “Eat less, move more”, you’ve been told. So you’ve been following your new strict diet to a T and working out harder than ever, but your weight loss has stalled. In fact, now you seem to be gaining weight. What gives?
Low-calorie diets might work very well in the beginning but can end up backfiring in the long haul.
The Proof: A year-long study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that tracked 50 overweight and obese people throughout a 10-week, low-calorie diet, and after.
The diet, which had them replacing all three of their daily meals with one low-calorie meal replacement formula and two cups of low-carbohydrate vegetables that added up to about 500 calories per day, saw the participants losing as much 20.7 pounds over the 10 weeks.
Not bad. But the results didn’t last for long.
The researchers discovered long-term negative changes in the participants’ appetite-regulating hormones, which along with other factors, led to intense hunger pangs and a slower metabolism a year after the diet was done—the perfect recipe for overeating and weight gain. At the end of the study, the participants were gradually regaining all the weight they had lost, and no slimmer than they were before it began.
As much as we’d like to believe that calories in, calories out is all it takes to lose weight, we need to realize that our bodies much more complex than that—you’ve also got to take into account things like your genetic makeup, age, state of health, goals, lifestyle and experiences with food, and work with, not against them.