If diets actually worked we’d all look like superheroes right? You ladies would most likely and very easily flaunt a figure not far off the good old, leggy Barbie or Cindy dolls. But, as we all know, this isn’t the case.
It’s All In The Mind
Weight is very much dependent upon the balance between how much you eat and how much energy you burn. However, most people don’t realise that in fact, your hunger, and energy usage are controlled by your brain without you even knowing.
Your brain and range of hormones are extremely good at regulating your weight by itself, creating a weight set-point and only allowing for small fluctuations in weight, all through the regulation of your natural hunger levels. To move your weight up and down, we use exercise/training and lifestyle choices.
However, weight gain is largely due to external factors (a small long term excess calorie consumption) rather than biological ones.
Therefore, sadly, a slight weight gain can become permanent: if you stay at that increased weight for too long, probably a matter of years for most of us, your brain may decide that that’s the new set-point.
Now there are two groups: those who listen to their brain and body, and rely on their hunger. Then there are those who try to control their eating through willpower, like most dieters. Let’s call the first group ‘instinctive eaters’ and the second group ‘controlled eaters’. The interesting thing is, that instinctive eaters are less likely to be overweight, as they rely on their body to regulate their hunger, and are less likely to think about food. Controlled eaters on the other hand constantly think about food, and are more likely to be tempted by a small indulgence, like eating one scoop of ice cream, and this is more likely to lead to a food binge.
I feel with just four healthy habits anyone can make huge strides towards losing fat and becoming healthy. Of course there are more, but let’s just work with these ones for now:
– Eating enough protein, fruits and veg
– Exercising 3-4 times a week
– Not smoking
– Drinking alcohol in moderation
When we start to listen to our bodies and understand the signals our bodies are giving us when it’s telling us that we are actually full from that meal, that is mindful eating.
As a result of traditional dieting, about 65% of dieters regain the weight within 3 years. 40% of them regain even more. If you think about this, it seems the typical outcome of dieting is that you’re more likely to gain weight in the long run than to lose it.
Now you might be thinking that, perhaps dieting isn’t the best way to go about things, as you clearly don’t want to be gaining it all, and possibly more later on down the line. So, how do we go about this?
Mindful eating is understanding the signals your body is giving you when it’s telling you that you are actually full from that meal; becoming over weight really does boil down to eating when you’re not hungry.
So how do I become one of those ‘instinctive eaters’?
Sit down to regular meals without distractions. Think about how your body feels when you start to eat and when you stop, and let your hunger decide when you should be done. Slow down and enjoy your food more. It takes about 20 minutes for Leptin (the hormone that tells you when you are full) to kick in, so if you rush your meal and eat it within 5-10 minutes, then there’s a very good chance you’ll think you’re still hungry, when really you’ve probably had enough. This isn’t going to happen overnight, but after a while it will be really worth it.
As I said at the beginning of this blog, if diets worked, we’d all look like superheroes.
There is a great quote from Albert Einstein saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”.
Jumping from diet to diet may seem harmless, but it can actually do a lot of collateral damage. Weight obsession can lead to eating disorders and just be damaging to life in general.
So, to leave you with a few final words: Take control of your food, learn to understand when you are full by adopting the points I’ve listed above and, just enjoy the other parts of life that not obsessing about food will free your mind up to focus on.