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DIETS DON’T WORK – when are you going to free yourself of dieting for good?

Through my practice up to now throughout my career so far in the health and fitness industry and through copious amounts of research underpinning what I do, I truly believe that ‘diets’ do us more harm than good both physically and mentally long term.


Dieting, whether it’s a named diet like Atkins or fasting or something of the like, or simply trying really hard to eat less, are not associated with long-term weight loss – we know that through the research by now. Looking at years of research around diet culture, people tend to lose weight initially and then somewhere down the line, be it weeks, months or years later, find themselves right back where they started or perhaps in an even less personally desirable position for themselves. Why would you be any different?


People stuck in a perpetual cycle of dieting do this time and time again, change very little, if anything in their approach and each time, often, gain a little more than they lost eventually – where’s the justice in that if you have a weight loss goal, hey?!


One of the main reasons that I believe that this is the case is from a mindset perspective. We all know by now that a large part of what I do is revolved around mindset and relationships with food. Food is a very emotional thing for just about all of us, even if we have a good relationship with food, we still associate it with eating when we are celebrating, eating when we are sad – we can’t get away from it.


If we don’t have the best relationship with food and/or also live with a lot of stress (something that is actually an epidemic I feel in the modern world – just about everyone I work with it stuck in some sort of stress cycle, myself included) we might already emotionally eat, boredom eat, restrict in the week and then overeat at the weekend – this can take so many forms. However, the research shows us that dieting exacerbates these behaviours.


One of the things that I wish I could do away with in the world is attaching morality to food – good, bad clean, on the wagon, off the wagon, naughty – diet culture teaches us that these things are normal, causing all kinds of subconscious thoughts and ideas around what we eat. The reason I can’t bear these thought processes are that when we tell ourselves we are being ‘naughty’ when we eat something delicious and are perhaps enjoying a lovely day out with our kids and having cake at a coffee stop – we subconsciously associate those ‘naughty’ choices with our value as a person. You are not naughty or a bad person if you enjoy eating fun food with the people that you love! Equally, you are not a bad person if you are feeling low and try to use food as a way to make yourself feel better – that is something that we can work on to help you with because it probably doesn’t come from the healthiest place, but it doesn’t make you a bad person.


The problem with associating these things with being ‘bad’, is that it draws us further and further into an unhealthy relationship with food, with ourselves and the binge-restrict cycle that we see so often causing people to feel less than their best.


One of the main goals that I have with almost everyone that I work with is to give ourselves permission to eat ALL foods, at whatever time of day or the week we would like to. We will work on moderation according to your goals and consuming all of the things that we love in a healthy way but there is no good and no bad because that, ultimately, will grind you down and actually, historically lead to lesser feelings of wellbeing both physically and mentally again and in fact, higher bodyweights over time – when most people that I come across have a weight loss goal, this is obviously counterproductive for what they would like to achieve.


I like to talk a lot about health goals over weight loss goals despite many people having been culturally, almost brainwashed, into believing that they should have a weight loss goal. There is, of course, nothing wrong with having aesthetic goals associated with the way that we look, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have those too, but as long as it comes from a healthy place in our minds which I know diet culture doesn’t lend itself to.


I wish I could make all people see that become a smaller version of themselves doesn’t make them a better person, people will not love them more, it will not solve all of your problems and make you happy – believe me, been there, done that. It actually made my social, mental AND physical health worse. You are magic just the way you are – okay, there may be health improvements we can make to help you to feel absolutely optimal each and every day so that you can perform at your best but two pounds lighter this week? No-one actually cares except you.


I hope that this illustrates to you why I believe that dieting isn’t bringing people the achievements in their health, aesthetically or not, that they would like.


So, I’ve got onto my high horse…what if we actually have goals and want to change something though and dieting is all that we know? What can we do instead to feel as though we are progressing towards where we want to be, but from a physically and mentally healthy place?


Habit change, little and often, making slightly healthier choices week on week, building a more healthy, optimal lifestyle for you, 1% each time to create long-lasting habits to see you through to a healthy old age. THAT is the stuff that works. Boring? Maybe. But up to now, I haven’t seen anything more effective in helping people to feel fabulous day in and day out. This isn’t just around nutrition and physical activity choices either, which diets focus almost solely on – it’s hydration, it’s sleep, it’s managing our stress levels, it’s ensuring we get enough natural daylight, and the rest!! If we wish to, and have body fat to lose healthily, these changes will come naturally with more optimal lifestyle choices – you just watch and wait.


Diets restrict, diets demonise certain foods, diets make us feel bad about ourselves and like we should be trying to fit into a certain ideal. Well, I have news for you, you can’t and won’t, you are you own person and can only work to become the healthiest and happiest version of you! NOT what society wants you to fit into. You can’t, unfortunately, control what certain parts of your body look like, but what you can control is the actions that you take each and every day to improve your health and THAT is why we take the approach that we do.


I’d love to know what you think – what’s the craziest diet you have done? Are you dieting now? How is that going for craziest diet you have done? Are you dieting now? How is that going for you?


And if I can help in any way to help you to improve your mindset around nutrition, health and your goals without dieting ever again then just pop me a message and I’ll be more than happy to chat.


Peace and love, A x

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