With New Year’s just around the corner, we are all being bombarded by the same messages.
20 Superfoods for Weight Loss! 10 Days to a Flat Tummy! 4 Weeks to Your Best Butt! Lose 20 pounds this month!
Along with every compelling article and post there is always a “before” and “after” photo to testify to the success of the diet. The person in the “before” photo always looks miserable and frumpy while the person (who may or may not be the original person) in the “after” photo always looks ecstatic and confident.
As readers it’s easy to fall into the faulty thought process that believes, being thin equals being happy and not being thin equals being inadequate. Once this thought process sets in, people often go to great lengths to achieve goals of thinness by dieting. Dieting becomes a staple in every conversation and a constant reminder that your body is not good enough and you have to apply restrictions to achieve happiness.
But believe it or not, long term DIETS DO NOT WORK. One researcher found that the majority of people who diet will gain back the weight and one-third to two-thirds will end up gaining more weight than they did at the beginning of the diet! (Mann, 2007). Can you imagine? Making so many sacrifices, following a diet religiously, and denying yourself entire food groups in order to achieve happiness. Only to discover you’re not able to maintain it, which results in feeling shameful and inadequate.
When working with my clients, I often break down the five stages of dieting and explain how it becomes a vicious cycle.
The idea of dieting usually starts with a negative thought. Whether it’s I’m too fat to put on a swimsuit or I have to lose 5 pounds to fit into my prom dress. The negative thoughts usually motivate people to engage in a diet plan that restricts calories, food groups, and creates strict rules for eating.
A week or so of dieting then leads to a period of deprivation. During this stage your mood is alternated because your body goes into preservation mode. People usually start craving calorie-rich foods to power the body and brain. The deprivation then leads to a “cheat day” during which you break the diet rules and eat foods that you have been working hard to restrict.
Overeating usually occurs during the “cheat day” because your mind doesn’t know when you will be allowed to eat the forbidden foods again therefore, it’s difficult to focus on satiety and stop eating once full.
The last stage of the cycle is shame. Shame is a powerful emotion that restarts the diet cycle by triggering the negative thoughts. It reinforces the faulty thought process and makes you feel like a failure who didn’t have the willpower to stick with the diet.
Dieting is a defeating process that does not promote true happiness, intuitive eating, or body acceptance. Instead it drives the diet culture we see in our society every day.
Let Perspectives Therapy Services help you on your health journey.
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.