For quite some time now we have been promoting a new approach to healthy slimming; a way that works with the body and feels effortless. Although there are hundreds of diets out there, they essentially all boil down to: “forbidden foods” and restricting calories. When someone makes a radical change to their eating habits it is not unusual for them to initially lose weight but most will put the weight back on, often they will put on even more than before.
There are two main problems associated with any diet: Firstly by denying ourselves particular (“bad” or “sinful”) foods we create a sense of resentment and make that food irresistible. If we say “I must not eat ice cream or chocolate” that will be all we would then think about. This creates a sense of tension around food.
Secondly when we restrict calories our body starts to believe it is going into starvation mode and to protect us it slows down the metabolic rate. So from a psychological and physical point of view diets cause the opposite of losing weight in the long run.
Now there is research to back this up. Recent articles in the Guardian (Wednesday April 11 2007) and Mail (Tuesday April 10 2007) news papers make for interesting reading. Professor Traci Mann points out that when people feel like they are denying themselves it creates a sense of pressure that leads to people (sooner or later) stopping the diet and gain the weight back, often more than they had before!
In our opinion, this creates feelings of failure and the belief that weight loss is difficult. Apart from the fact that diets do not work in the long run, the articles point towards evidence that it may be harmful for the body to go on ‘yo – yo’ diets. By continuously losing and gaining weight we may harm our immune function and become more prone to certain diseases.
Only by listening to the authentic signals of our bodies, using our imagination (not just will power) can we start to develop a more relaxed and authentic relationship to food. Then we can start to become slim and stay healthy, happy and slim. Of course, to this we can add ways of feeling good about exercise and movement. Exercise need not be pumping iron; it can be just about anything from yoga to walking, from dancing to swimming. New eating habits and exercise can both boost our metabolic rate to keep us slim and toned.
We need to start by focusing on some core changes. By changing our emotional relationship with food, and ourselves, changes in eating patterns become easier. Real change in this area comes not from dieting but from learning to re-establish a balanced relationship with food and with ourselves.