Why restrictive diets for weight loss are NOT the solution

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We have been sold by society for decades that the solution for weight loss is a restrictive diet where we begin counting calories, obsessing about portions, weighing, measuring, tracking food, and monitoring this process with a hawk-like surveillance to ensure that we are following “the diet plan”.

If the rules and program details are followed precisely, weight loss success is frequently achieved. Most often, however, the weight loss “success” is short lived because the war like tactics to get to the magical goal weight number on the scale are not sustainable. This is evidenced by the 95% failure rate of diets. But we keep DOING IT, thinking that we will somehow try harder next time, be more focused, or simply just “start over”.

When we attempt to restrict our food choices for a specific outcome, say, weight loss, we develop “food rules” that we believe will get us from point A to point B as fast as possible. When we embrace such restrictions that eliminate food groups or macronutrients, we can develop an inner war zone with food by labeling “good foods” and “bad foods”.

Further complicating the problem is the idea that we must learn to suffer and ignore hunger signals and put limits on pleasure and satisfaction with food. We essentially develop a fear of food and take on white knuckling with healthy foods to stay in control. While this appears to be a responsible decision, it can create a boomerang effect with well-meaning attempts to avoid those foods which we label as “bad foods” on our mission.

We all have an inner child inside of us who is demanding and does not like to be ignored and controlled. Taking on restrictive food plans that are difficult to sustain can lead to our inner child held captive, which is uncomfortable and confining. When we “slip up” and eat something off plan, our inner child unleashes in rebellion from “being bad” for eating a “bad food” and will get what he or she wants RIGHT NOW. This is an example of what can lead a restrictive dieter to experience recurring binge eating episodes with sweets or other so called “forbidden” foods.

What is the solution? Finding peace with ALL FOODS on your terms. Soften up or even eliminate restrictive diets for weight loss. Consider what healthy foods truly satisfy you and bring you pleasure. Include a variety of healthy food choices to keep things interesting. Allow yourself to slowly enjoy your meals and bask in the presence and pleasure of eating true, nourishing foods that support and sustain you. And for those favorite treats? Decide on your terms, when to indulge, and make it special. Level up the quality of your choices. Be present with the first few bites of your chosen indulgence and be consciously aware if you are satisfied and if you REALLY want or need more. This is learning to become a conscious eater; in which case we are “checked into” the eating experience itself, whereas bingeing is being “checked out”. In this manner, we find peace, love, and freedom with food on our own terms, which result in a relationship with food that can be trusted and sustained. When we embrace this peace, we will say good-bye to restrictive dieting and hello to our own pathway and solutions that work for US.

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