Flick through a magazine, look on the bookshelves of your local library or flick through the TV channels at Prime Time: food is an important part of our culture and lifestyle. These days the UK diet industry is estimated to be worth around 2 billion pounds. That’s a lot of books, DVDs, downloads, subscriptions and diet supplements offering us all a promise of a better, slimmer life.
Short term gain or long-term change?
But have you ever been on a diet and were strict enough to follow it for the length of time it took to work? If so, did you notice this wonderful feeling of weight loss and that feeling of being happier because you were on the way to look your best only to find that once you finished with the diet and began to eat ‘normally’ that you returned to your pre-diet weight or even put on more weight?
This is a common story as diets do work, but seem only to have a long-lasting effect if we permanently adjust our whole lifestyle to accommodate the diet. They don’t tend to mention this on the back of the DVD when you buy it.
The lifestyle impact of diets
Many people find that going on a diet restricts them from socialising as when we are in company we find it tricky to say no to the lovely food your host may have cooked for you. Or in a restaurant it can be really difficult to count the calories from the menu items accurately, never mind the inconvenience involved in ordering a light bite only to be left feeling hungry and unsatisfied.
So, what is going on in our psyche that makes diets so tricky to follow and for us to maintain?
Rethinking the concepts of diets.
As a qualified behavioural change specialist with over 30 years experience helping adults and children, I have a few thoughts on this subject and the first is that whenever you think of the word diet you are thinking restrictions - all the things you can’t eat or are not allowed when on a diet.
The minute you place restrictions on yourself and you use language such as ‘don’t’ or ‘can’t’, what happens internally is that most people say they can’t stop thinking of the thing they are not supposed to have i.e. don’t think of a choc ice. – What has happened? – You are automatically thinking of a choc ice! If you are less visual, you might not have an image in your mind of a choc ice, but you might hear the crunch of the chocolate coating as you bite into it. When this happens, you trigger a want response…you want the thing you can’t have because you have formed a mental image of it and you will have triggered your senses into activation which then amplifies the desire.
If you are brave enough and you can stave off the desire for these foods and you follow the diet through to its conclusion – what has happened to your lifestyle in the process? Many people find they are cooking differently from the family, maybe having to eat at different times to their partners and children. They have increased the workload, and this becomes difficult or almost impossible to maintain in the long run without having negative consequences on relationships as our culture are based around food and our intimate conversations and friendships often take place around food and drink.
How can you lose weight successfully?
Well, this depends on the individual, but some key things that people have switched off to is listening to their internal clocks. We all have internal rhythms – there is the circadian rhythm that runs our body clock according to sunrise and sunset, but due to our technological devices and lifestyles we have forgotten the natural rhythms of our body.
If you look at very young children – those who are being weaned or just started on solids – you will note how in tune they are with their bodies because when they are full, they will not let you put any more food into their mouths. They will clamp their mouths shut or will start spitting the food out. These youngsters know when they are hungry and how much they need to eat to feel full. They don’t eat unless they need it.
Both of these things we have tended to overwrite, and we are no longer following the clues our body is telling us. How many times have you felt full but carried on eating? Despite feeling uncomfortable, after we finish eating we have to loosen the top button on our jeans or trousers. Sadly, this is true. So many people I see tell me this the case, they are either not aware of their own body’s messages or are just choosing to ignore them.
In the case of ignoring them, there may be emotional issues that are causing this pressure, and this has to be dealt with in order to stop this desire to continue to eat even when full.
Also, how many times have you devoured your meal because you had to rush somewhere, see someone, etc? We have stopped enjoying the pleasure of each mouthful of food, and if you take your time to savour each bite you will find that you would eat less as you would get that full feeling sooner than eating quickly. This is because as you eat quickly, you can get more down to your stomach before your stomach realises the volume of food that it must cope with.
Ditch the diet, change your thinking.
I believe that dieting is a myth and I work with you to make sure that you become aligned to your body’s signals and we also explore your relationship with food uncovering and dealing with emotional and mental blockers – allowing you to eat normally and well. Basically, we ditch the dieting and move you towards a place of continual wellbeing that you can sustain within your usual life and routines.
This month I am offering a special weight loss session with 10% off the standard price. Before you buy another diet book or sign up for a gym membership, why not get in touch to discuss your needs? You might be surprised at how good value a weight loss session with me can be.
I’m a behavioural change and emotional well being specialist and a qualified hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner and coach. I have spent the last 30 years in changing the behaviours and lives of children, teenagers and adults from all walks of life. I have set up Harley Street Consulting to help continue my work in helping others achieve success and behavioural change in their lives. I have offices in Maidenhead, Berkshire and Harley Street London, please get in touch if you would like to find out more about how I can help.