Everywhere you turn, you’ll see advice on how to lose weight. You’ll see tried and true diets touted from the front covers of magazines. Fad diets will also be heralded as the next new weight loss technique.
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You see these things because we live in a diet culture. If you put twenty people together in a room, the majority of them will have been on a diet or are currently on a diet. Dieting has become the new normal and as a result, it has become part of who you are.
Most people don’t realize how narrow their world has become when it comes to dieting. They don’t understand that they’re simply on yet another diet because they haven’t taken a step back and looked at the big picture.
But what you don’t realize is that your life can be overtaken by one diet after another. You can become so focused on counting the calories, obsessing over food that it restricts your life.
You can focus on chronic dieting to the point that foods are identified as good or bad. That creates a mindset of food restriction which is one of the underlying causes of failure to lose weight.
People who are chronically dieting will often fail to see that their weight loss goals aren’t normal. Instead, when they decide to lose weight, they have a magical number in mind that they want to reach.
It doesn’t matter to them if that number is wrong for their bone structure or if that weight isn’t realistic for them. They are linking their self worth, their happiness to that number and they can’t see anything but reaching that goal.
This will cause you to fail at one diet and turn right around and start another. It will also cause you to consider and in some cases, get involved in fad diets that can damage your health.
When it comes to chronic dieting, some people mistakenly believe that if they “fall off the wagon” then they’re technically not dieting. During this time where they don’t see themselves as dieting, the past food deprivation feelings kick in and they will often binge eat what they didn’t allow themselves to have before.
If you’re someone who engages in chronic dieting, it means that your diets are open ended. You don’t set your focus on an end goal. You just keep dieting hoping to reach a number that will give you inner happiness.
Recognizing How Your Dieting Is Affecting You
When dieting becomes part of who you are, you’ll find yourself caught up in yo yo dieting. Some people think yo yo dieting is what happens when someone loses a lot of weight, gains it back and then loses it again.
But yo yo dieting is actually repeatedly losing weight regardless of the amount. If you lose five pounds, gain it back, then lose it again, that’s yo yo dieting. Any amount that’s lost and regained repeatedly qualifies as yo yo dieting.
You might think that the benefits of losing weight are what count regardless of whether or not you gain it back. But you would be mistaken. Yo yo dieting takes a toll on the body.
When you engage in this kind of dieting behavior, your body will start to fight back. It does this as part of a survival mechanism. When you lose and regain repeatedly, your body gets the wrong signals and tries to fight against starvation.
It holds on tight and makes it tougher for you to be able to lose any weight. So in the future, you might start losing less every time you try to diet because your body is working against you.
This can start to rack up the extra pounds and cause you to become heavier than you were before you ever started the diet. Most people who end up obese do so because they engage in state of constant dieting where they deprive themselves and then overeat.
Yo yo dieting can lower the amount of good cholesterol you have in your body and raise your risk of having a heart attack or heart related disease. When you focus your life around diets that have a yo yo effect, it can take a toll on your emotions.
You’ll feel happy and excited every time you lose the weight but then sad every time you see a weight gain. This can end up leading you to experience depression especially if you’re around other people who have dieted and successfully kept the weight off long term.
Yo yo diets take such a toll on your health that they can actually shave years off your life span. You can break the cycle of yo yo dieting so that it stops being part of who you are.
When you want to lose weight, don’t think you need a quick or big change. Instead, make small changes that you can incorporate into your life.
When we make huge changes in our eating patterns, we can rebel mentally especially if we have an emotional attachment to food.
Understand that you will have days when you’ll feel like you blew it with the way that you eat. Just remember that if you eat healthy and you exercise, you will lose weight without having to rely on one diet after another.
Societal Pressure Is Running Your Life
When everyone around you is doing the same thing, it can be hard to stand apart from the crowd. It’s more normal to be on a diet these days than it isn’t. You want to be accepted.
That’s normal. If being the person who isn’t on a diet threatens that acceptance, most people will change to fit in. Society has a picture of what the perfect weight is and it will tell you exactly what that perfect weight is.
It’s not you. You’ll see what society thinks about your weight in the magazine articles that tell women who wear a size ten how they can “shed those unwanted pounds.”
The average person wears a size between twelve and fourteen. Yet society tells us that if your weight is higher than what could qualify as a fever on a thermometer, you’re fat.
We buy into this pressure and it sends us into a frenzy of having to lose weight in order to fit in. What’s so sad is that the people who are making these claims aren’t people who have a perfect weight.
They’re just as caught up in what they think everyone should like as you are. So you give in. You cave to what society tells you that your body is supposed to look like.
Your last diet didn’t really work for you, so you start yet again determined this time to do whatever it takes to get the weight off. Before you know it, the diet has taken over your life.
It’s what you think about you, it’s what you dwell on, it’s what you and your friends talk about. You continue to chase the elusive vision of perfection because you believe that others must know something you don’t.
If they can diet and have a perfect weight, then surely it’s obtainable to you, too. With this kind of mindset, it becomes your new norm to be in the cycle of dieting and then off of it.
You see it as normal that you gain weight during one of the off cycles. When that happens, you hop into the on cycle and the process starts all over again. You need to take a long look at your life.
See how many years you’ve spent chasing a diet, chasing a perfect weight, trying desperately to fit in to what society says looks beautiful or looks healthy.
Those beautiful women in magazines have had every bulge airbrushed to perfection. It’s not reality. It’s time to say no to societal pressure and to allowing dieting to control your life.
The Diet Identity Crisis
You can tie your identity up in dieting and not even realize that’s what you’ve done. Every time you announce to your friends and family that you’re starting a new diet, you lose your identity.
Your life revolves around the diet announcement. The seeking of approval that you’re going to lose weight, strive for that perfect number. But what you don’t realize is that when you continue to make diet announcements every time you start a new diet, you’re setting the stage for failure.
When others know you’re dieting, you can experience some negativity. You’ll have people questioning you about the foods that you eat. You can end up feeling resentful or guilty, both emotions which can cause problems for you when you’re trying to lose weight.
Despite how well meaning others are, when you announce a diet, most people see that as deprivation. As a result, they’ll often put temptation in your way. “Oh come on. One bite won’t hurt.”
You might think that by announcing that you’re starting a new diet that it’s a good thing that you shared it with others. You could subconsciously be seeking approval.
But studies have shown that by not telling people you’re starting a diet, you can end up having more willpower than if you did. Plus, when you want to make positive changes in your life, if you’re among people who don’t have the same mindset, sometimes, they’ll resent the changes you want to make.
They’ll subconsciously work to get you to stay the same. Whether we like it or not, how people react to what we tell them can impact us and cause us to change directions.
Some people can end up with their lives revolving around diet announcements because they have a diet addiction. This is what happens when wanting to lose weight crosses the line into something that consumes their life and as a result, overtakes their identity.
Dieting and wanting to announce the news every time you start a new one can be a form of trying to bolster your self-esteem. You need the approval of others. When dieting causes you to lose your identity, it means that there are no gray areas with food.
You see what you eat as bad or good, therefore what you eat makes you bad or good. If you decide that you’re going to start a new diet, don’t announce it to anyone who doesn’t have the power to help you along the journey.
Of the people who need to know a diet announcement are your doctor, your weight loss trainer or a dietician. This can be a better support team for you than others can be.
What Happens When Dieting Becomes Part of Who You Are
The way that you think about food is altered. You won’t see food choices as healthy or not so healthy. Instead, you’ll food as either or. You can have it or you can’t.
There’s no middle ground. When you think this way, it can be easier to create a food obsession. This all or nothing mentality is at the basis of many eating disorders.
Instead of creating labels for what you eat and shoving them into one category of the other, eat what you want within reason. Practice eating healthy portions and stopping when you’re full.
Sometimes we get caught up in dieting because we have behaviors associated with food. One of these can be the mindset that if you don’t eat this particular food, it will go out of date and you’ll have wasted the money you spent on it.
Learn to let go of food and know that while it’s not the best thing in the world to waste, it’s not the worst thing in the world either. It’s better to throw food out than throw on the pounds that will trap you in a cycle of dieting.
When you get caught up in a cycle of dieting, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that eating was meant to be a pleasurable experience, not one we dread. When you label food as good and bad, you can create guilt and stress feelings in your body every time you eat that food.
So you learn to deprive yourself. You have to reach the point where you realize that it’s okay to enjoy food when it’s consumed in a healthy manner. Negative feelings with food can create food issues that cause people to diet and binge and repeat the behavior.
Learn to accept food as simply fuel and only eat what you need to get through your day. When dieting becomes part of who you are, it can make you limit your world to the point that everything must be rigidly controlled when it comes to food.
You’ll start to focus so much on your dieting that you cut yourself off from experiences. You won’t go out with friends to some events because you know there will be food there you might have a hard time not eating.
Or you start to spend so much time looking up the nutrition on every bit of food that you eat that there’s no longer any joy at all in eating. People who let dieting become part of who they are can feel threatened emotionally when something happens to disrupt their diet. They can become diet perfectionists and their happiness revolves around the diet.