“I blew it this week, I’ll start again Monday!” Sound familiar? Women always make this promise after having blown yet another diet. After the binging, guilt and punishment pass, you plan your next diet, hoping for a different outcome. While the diet industry wants you to think you’re a failure and need a new diet or more “willpower,” this isn’t the truth.
Permanent weight loss and a healthy relationship with food come from learning how to eat intuitively. Infants know how to do this, so do “naturally” thin people. Watch a baby – she screams and demands food when she’s hungry, regardless of the time of day or if her mother is busy or tired.
When she is full the bottle is refused or the food is thrown on the floor. She doesn’t have a need to clean her plate or eat everything so she can have dessert. By re-learning to eat intuitively, your body will return to its natural weight and you can maintain it without dieting, deprivation or excessive exercise.
So if we were born with this innate ability, why are so many people disconnected from it? Well, as a young child, you probably heard messages such as, “eat everything on your plate and you’ll get dessert”, or “you can’t be hungry, it’s not dinner time!” Maybe your grandmother was offended if you didn’t eat seconds. And you were probably forced to eat things you didn’t like in order to get a cookie or ice cream.
As you got older, you learned about dieting from your friends at school. And the magazines you read told you how you should look and feel about yourself. As an adult, you are still inundated with these messages. It’s no wonder everyone is confused, feeling like a failure!
There are four main reasons why we overeat:
The first is “diet deprivation backlash” – every time you go on a diet, you have certain “bad”-listed foods. Many are probably your favorites, such as chocolate, cookies, or cheese. The more you can’t have it, the more you crave it. For every diet you attempt, you can expect a binge to follow. When you eat intuitively you can eat the foods you love, when you’re hungry, without weight gain!
Emotional eating is the second reason. Eating for emotional reasons is a learned behavior, usually from childhood. By doing this, you are actually stuffing down your feelings with the food. This allows you to focus on feeling sick from overeating and you get to beat yourself up for doing it, thereby avoiding the original emotion and situation.
It can be painful, but it’s better to feel the emotions and work through them. Some people who cannot lose weight are actually subconsciously making sure the weight stays on so they have something else to focus on (being overweight, feeling guilty) instead of their true emotions.
A third reason we overeat is a lack of truthful nutrition information. With all the diets and so-called nutrition “experts” telling you what, when and how to eat, it’s easy to be confused. When you learn intuitive eating your body will let you know when it’s hungry and what it wants.
While high-protein diets are dangerous and the weight loss is not permanent, eating a small amount of protein every time you eat is a great strategy. If you eat nothing but carbohydrates, you will probably be hungry in an hour. Protein helps buffer carbohydrate in the stomach, slowing down digestion and keeping you satisfied and your blood sugar stable.
Finally, we overeat from getting too hungry. You have probably experienced this a few times – you forget to eat or keep putting it off until you are so hungry you are shaking, feeling dizzy, unable to concentrate and irritable. When you finally eat, you have no control over how much you are consuming. You keep eating, still shaking, thinking you are still hungry. This goes on until you finally feel the food in your stomach, after eating way beyond just satisfied. You may even feel sick to your stomach, and the guilt and shame will follow.
Pay attention to your hunger and eat when you first feel it. This will prevent weight gain and the desire to go on yet another diet to punish yourself.
All these reasons lead us to overeat, keeping on the undesired weight. One of the problems with diets is that weight is a symptom of non-hunger eating. By addressing the symptom instead of the cause, the diet – binge – diet again cycle continues. The next time you consider a diet, try listening to your body first. You may be surprised at the wisdom it is ready to share with you!