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Is the Latest, Greatest Diet Sucking You In?

diet-signPerhaps you have been reading this column for a while and like the idea of changing your relationship with food, but at the same time you really want to lose some weight fast, and so the latest and greatest diet is tugging on you and sucking you in.  Does this sound like you?  If you had to pick, which would you say is more important: making a lasting change to your relationship with food or getting to your goal weight quickly? I often ask clients this same question and almost always, when a client has a significant amount of weight to lose or has been on and off the dieting roller coaster for most of their lives, their answer is, “I want both now”. I am assuming some of you answered the same way and may be curious whether it’s possible to do both at the same time.  If you are feeling this way, I am not surprised and it’s normal to feel conflicted.

You most likely have been on a diet before in your life, and can remember how well it did or didn’t work.   Think about the last diet you were on. Did you lose weight only to quickly gain it back?  How did you feel when you were dieting? Stressed, anxious, obsessive, or deprived?   Were those feelings worth the weight you lost?  Let’s assume for a moment the weight did come back. Did those feelings of stress, anxiety and deprivation go away with the returned weight or did they just intensify?

If you are constantly being sent the message that being overweight is bad for your long-term health or you feel judged and criticized for your weight, then it makes sense you feel an urgent need to change your physical shape. Outwardly, you and others can see when you have lost weight and it’s an external validation of all your hard work. However, sometimes it’s tougher to see how changing your relationship with food can lead to a healthy weight and you may be worried it will take longer than a diet.

Diets are alluring for a variety of reasons,. The quick weight loss is obvious, but there’s a social aspect to dieting as well.  Tips and tricks are traded in the office and bets are made as to who can lose the most weight and who can do it the fastest.  Diets are also alluring because when you diet, you eliminate the need to look at your own behaviors around food.  Sometimes these behaviors are just habitual, but other times they can reveal things you may not love about yourself, or feelings and emotions that are overwhelming.  This is the hardest part of changing your relationship with food, but also the most rewarding.  Through this step you learn your triggers around certain foods as well as the types and amounts of food that can leave you either feeling great, and energized or dragged down and tired.  You gain confidence about your choices and how your feel in your own body. Ultimately, through behavior change, a healthy body weight is often achieved, and more importantly it’s maintainable without long-term deprivation and stress. I can hear you thinking, “but it takes longer to lose weight through intuitive eating than by dieting”.  Yes, you are right, it probably will.  It goes back to asking the important question and looking at why dieting probably didn’t work for you in the past.  Interestingly enough, somewhere along the process of intuitive eating, a shift occurs. Clients generally start to recognize what life looks like without being on a dieting roller coaster and how losing weight by paying attention to hunger and fullness doesn’t lead to deprivation. Suddenly, the slower weight loss is worth the extra effort.

It’s hard to work on both goals at the same time, but one thing I know for sure – you can’t change your relationship with food by dieting, but you can achieve a healthy weight by changing your relationship with food. Whichever path you choose, your journey will be complete with ups and downs and I encourage you to always think about what is most important for you individually and what will leave you living your life with energy and happiness.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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