Wait, what? No, your eyes are not deceiving you, and I did not make a typo (I made sure to double check it several times). Stick with me for a few minutes to clarify my statement.
Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten, pumpkin spice everything consumed, Christmas lights seen, Christmas songs sung, and gifts bought, wrapped and opened. The holidays are over and you are gearing up for ringing in the New Year and thinking about what you want to do differently in 2017.
If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’re probably thinking about wanting to get healthier in the upcoming year. Most likely, you’re preparing yourself to lose weight and “work off” everything you’ve consumed in the past few weeks (because let’s get real, there is a LOT of good food that is made this time of year). But what if I told you that your New Year’s resolution to lose weight might actually cause you to gain weight?
Yep. The pursuit of weight loss often results in weight gain. Sure, dieting or pursuing weight loss through “lifestyle changes” results in weight loss at first, but it always comes back, with each successive attempt to lose weight, becoming more difficult than the one before.
Research has shown that around 95 percent of those who lose weight on a diet gain it back plus more.1 It’s a phenomenon called fat overshooting,2 leaving us with an increased fat mass, oftentimes deposited around the waist. In a twin study, identical twins were assessed throughout a nine-year period. Statistically, the twin that engaged in dieting was heavier than the twin who did not, regardless of similar starting weights. Weight gain was proportional to the number of weight loss attempts, with more weight gain for increased number of attempts.3 Even more alarming, the pursuit of weight loss (dieting) is associated with an increased risk for poor self-esteem, lack of body awareness, overeating and bingeing, and full-blown eating disorders. In fact, statistically one out of every four dieters will develop an eating disorder.1
So what gives? Why does dieting not deliver on its promises?
There are several reasons for why dieting puts us at an increased risk for being heavier as well as for damaging our psyche.
The first is basic physiology. We’re told that if we simply increase our activity and decrease our intake, we’ll lose weight. And in a perfect world, this is true. However, there are so many different factors that impact our energy input and expenditure. There are a host of hormones that control our hunger, appetite, cravings, energy storage, and energy utilization. We can increase our output (exercise) and decrease our input (eat less food), but we cannot control the resulting slowing of our metabolism. We cannot control that as we decrease food intake, our body increases our hunger and intensifies the pleasure response to food in our brain. Our bodies are very smart and incredibly good at keeping us alive. Part of its job of keeping us alive is making sure that we have adequate energy at all times. So as we start to lose weight, it begins to adjust by decreasing our energy expenditure (it burns fewer calories) and increasing our desire for food. In addition, as our weight cycles up and down, our fat cells acquire more fat enzymes, which makes energy storage (weight gain) easier. When you lose weight, those fat-storing enzymes are working against you to gain the weight back.
The second reason for dieting failure—and an equally strong contributor—is rooted in the psychology of eating. Maybe you’re thinking that you can outsmart your body’s slowed metabolism, increased fat storage, and increased thoughts and desire for food through rigorous calorie counting or a restrictive eating plan and intense exercise. Multiple studies have shown that dietary restriction results in overeating or bingeing.4 Whenever you are told you cannot have something, you automatically want it. A food that is restricted becomes very enticing and sets you up for overeating when you finally do give in (and trust me, you eventually will). This overeating or bingeing then leads to weight gain (or extreme guilt and shame), which then leads to dieting, and the cycle continues on. All the while, you feel crazy around food, untrusting of your hunger and cravings, and wishing that you could eat “like a normal person” without going overboard or gaining weight. Additionally, all this focus on food, exercise and calories constantly makes you feel like your body is not good enough and that you are somehow a failure for not being able to “control your food” or change your body size and shape. This does not sound like a good mental place to be in.
What if instead of going on a diet and pursuing weight loss, you decided to put all that effort into gaining a better relationship with food and your body? What if instead of thinking about how many calories are in a food, you considered how satisfying it would taste and how nourishing it would be to your body? When we begin to take all of the judgment out of our food choices and make decisions based off hunger, satiety and wellbeing rather than weight loss, we can begin to make choices that are good for our body and mind.
Your body can regulate its weight without you interfering and trying to control it. The catch is that you have to learn to listen to it. What does it need? How much? Maybe you need food, a drink, rest, a mental break or some physical activity.
Start listening to what your body is telling you that it needs; you just might be amazed by what it tells you.
1. Monte Nido. Statistics on Dieting and Eating Disorders. http://www.montenido.com/pdf/montenido_statistics.pdf. Accessed December 14, 2016.
2. Dulloo AG, Jacquet J, and Montani JP. How dieting makes some fatter: from a perspective of human body composition autoregulation. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2012; 71: 379-389. Doi:10.1017/S0029665112000225
3. Pietilainen KH, SaarniSE, Kaprio J, Rissanen A. Does dieting make you fat? A twin study. International Journal of Obesity. 2011: 1-9.
4. Polivy J. Psychological consequences of food restriction. J Am Diet Assoc. 1996; 95: 589-592.
Article source: http://newsok.com/article/5532693