If Diets Work

If diets work, why is it that so many of us are continually on one? Could it be that dieting only deals with the calorific aspect – and we need something more? If the diet industry met all of their claims there would be few overweight people. If dieting works, why are we facing an ever increasing weight problem?

When a person goes on a diet, they are, by definition cutting back, denying themselves, reducing their intake. Does this restricive practice work? Does this make you want your favourites less?

We are working with a system, defined over plus of 160,000 years to deal with famine and eating (notice I didn’t mention feast!). Whenever we diet, our archaic system thinks “hello, this is a famine period…. better hold on to all I have” – that would be why you tend to have big weight losses in the first few weeks of a regime, and then struggle further into it. Your body will let go of all it can BEFORE it will let go of its reserves. You need mental stamina to persevere.

Now I’ll mention FEAST – Another major challenge to successful weight management is the eating habits we have acquired recently. I say recently because you only have to go back to beginning of the 20th Century to see a radically different set of eating patterns. For the average person back then, there was no abundance of food. They ate what they could afford. Up to 50% of the working class diet was made up of fruit and vegetables. Lunch was usually a sandwich made from leftovers, or a pie bought when funds allowed. If money was short, cheap soup was available in the street. Evening meals followed a cascade approach; what was cooked on a Sunday was served again on Monday, as a stew and for Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday could be a rice, potatoe or lentil based dish served with bread. Friday was traditionally fish. Even the beer was watered down! No fast food. No supermarkets. No choice. No abundance.

So, let’s recap – we are denying ourself things we have come to like (dare I say love) and we are working with our system, that has taken ages to design itself to survive in harsh environments and in the last 50 years we have changed its eating habits. Is it any wonder that we are gaining weight?

Habits or patterns are the key to change.

We have built up patterns of behaviour that, in some way, work for us. They serve a purpose. They may make us feel better, help us deal with certain situations, provide comfort or reward. Whatever the reason, we do them for a reason. The fact that there may be better ways of doing things, or that may be better for us is inconsequential. To change we need to alter the patterns.

What is it that motivates us to loose weight, or start exercising (preferably both!). You might catch a view in a mirror that is less than flattering, you might have a specific occasion that you want to look your best for, or it may be that someone else suggests it. Many times, people diet because of external influences and pressures. We are not really doing this for ourselves, but rather for someone else, or because of a social construction of what is healthy, fit, sexy etc. To make it work – We need to change for us.

Typically, when we go on a diet, we change our patterns of eating. BUT we don’t change us. I am the same person before I go on a diet, I am me whilst on a diet, and I will revert to me after a diet. How many times have people stuck to their regime for months and then, once they come off, they put weight back on?

To truly change you need a holistic approach; you need to deal with all aspects of your system; to redefine you. A balanced and nutritious diet will go a long way to improving your overall health, and clearly exercise is important to enable us to remain fit and active. However, we need to have the right mindset to fully capitalise on our successes and ensure future ones. The skills and knowledge of NLP offer processes to enable you to develop the winning mindset that ensures that fitness and wellbeing to become an integral part of your life. Have a look at our Harness your Inner Power workshop to see how NLP can assist you towards health and wellness.


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