May 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Feeling the Pressure to Diet

Dear Coach Gila,

Thanksgiving is behind us and we now have a few weeks before Chanukah begins, replete with the usual fried-food extravaganza: latkes and donuts. I’ve been reading many advertisements on social media claiming that NOW is the perfect time to begin a diet. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Chanukah are seemingly crucial. We can work off our mashed potatoes and stuffing and lose enough weight to create a cushion so we won’t look FAT if we eat a doughnut or two. Part of me is buying into this diet mentality but on a much deeper level it all just feels wrong to me. Personally, I have tried every diet out there, lost and regained and am still about 75 pounds overweight. I’m feeling this immense pressure to start NOW. I feel like a failure. I clearly have no willpower and sabotage myself just as I’m beginning to see real success. What do you recommend?

Signed,

Do I diet NOW?

 

Dear Do I diet NOW,

Thank you for reaching out to me with your important question. While I will answer it in this very public forum I will begin with a disclaimer. I believe in bio-individuality, which means that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for others. I believe that there is no one way of eating that works for everyone.

There will be those who will disagree with me, those who have had success with diets. I am truly happy for you and wish you continued success with whatever program or plan works for you. My response is for the woman who asked me her question and the rest of you who are still struggling, still yo-yo dieting. Those of you who have tried every diet and are still a long way from a healthy lifestyle.

The difference between a diet and a healthy lifestyle is important to consider. Dieting almost always involves restriction, counting, weighing and measuring. Dieting often involves perpetual hunger and ultimately bingeing.

Dieting overrides our natural hunger cues by teaching us to rely on rules rather than hunger to control eating. These dieting rules are meant to help but ultimately cause more harm than good. For example, if you eat every 2 ½ hours even if you are not hungry, you are learning to override and ignore your true hunger cues. When dieters who have long ignored their hunger cues finally exhaust their willpower, they tend to overeat and even binge, and regain whatever weight they lost.

If dieting doesn’t work, what should you do instead? Focus on healthy habits and learn to listen to your body. Learn to recognize true hunger vs. emotional eating, stress eating or boredom eating.

When we focus on healthy habits then our new lifestyle, including a healthier weight, becomes easier to sustain. We are eating nutrient-dense food, receiving the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients our bodies crave and need. We are eating the types of foods that work for our own body, in amounts that we need. We are hydrated and giving our bodies the sleep we need. We have mastered stress management techniques. We are exercising and moving our bodies consistently.

For chronic dieters, it is important to learn when your body is full. It’s not so simple or easy when you are used to eating specific “diet” measurements. I recommend beginning with mindful eating—paying attention to signals of hunger and fullness.

When eating mindfully, begin to pay attention to the colors, smells, flavors and textures of your food. Turn off the TV or put your phone down to eliminate distractions. Learn to chew slowly and enjoy every single bite.

Most importantly, put an end to the feelings of guilt, shame and anxiety around food. Changing one’s relationship with food and removing the guilt and shame that many of us feel towards food takes time. It requires digging deep and peeling back the layers of our relationship with food. The good news is that it is possible to change. It is possible to separate our feelings of self-worth from our eating habits. There should be no shame associated with food. Let it go.

Take a deep breath and recognize that willpower is overrated. Healthy habits rule. Make small changes. Remember that over time small steps yield large results.

Learn to love yourself where you are now. Achieving a healthy weight is a journey and as with all journeys it is so much more enjoyable with a positive mindset. Find someone to provide support and accountability for you, it can be a friend, spouse or a professional in this field.

I will address the issue of self-sabotage in my next article. I wish you hatzlacha as you begin to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine. Please stay in touch with me.

Coach Gila

Coach Gila welcomes questions from her readers. Please email all questions to [email protected].

To learn more visit www.mainassethealth.com or call 917-647-1788.

By Gila Guzman, JD, CINHC

 Coach Gila Guzman JD, CINHC, guides busy families toward their health goals by providing realistic tools. Coach Gila practices a whole foods approach, and believes in creating healthy habits for sustainable health. She is sought out by those who want to change their relationship with food, end yo-yo dieting and overcome emotional eating. Coach Gila offers personal 1:1 sessions, group sessions and healthy-cooking classes. Coach Gila is available to speak at wellness parties, school, sisterhood and corporate events.

 

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