You have probably heard the statistic that is often thrown around that 95 percent of all diets fail. Whether or not this specific metric is accurate, it is true that most people who try a diet to lose weight are unsuccessful in either reaching their weight loss goal or maintaining their loss over a significant period. So, is it that people are failing the diets, or could it be that the diets are failing the people?
Understanding the Folly of “Diets”
Most commercial diets and weight loss programs and systems focus almost exclusively on reducing weight as the ultimate goal and claim that monitoring food choices and counting calories are the primary ways to achieve this aim. Diets usually include a lengthy list of “approved” and “off-limits” foods, and followers are told to simply eat good foods and avoid the bad foods if they want to lose weight.
While this approach may seem logical, it neglects to account for a considerable influence on what you eat and why you eat it, which is your mind. By focusing on changing mindset and altering attitudes about food and eating, you can increase your chances of successes of not only losing excess weight but also improving your overall health.
The key to turning a “diet” into a way of life that will take you into a healthier future is to change your beliefs about food, which will, in turn, improve your behaviors for good.
The decisions you make every single day about what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat are all influenced not only by what you know about nutrition and health but also by your emotions, hormones, expectations, and other psychological processes. It has not simple, which is why dieting cannot be viewed as a straightforward way to improve your health.
Shifting the Mindset to Achieve Lasting Weight Loss
One of the ways to change the conversation and achieve real, lasting change is to stop focusing solely on weight and instead shift your thinking to better health outcomes. Weight is an indicator, not a goal. How do you want to feel? What do you want to be able to do that you can’t currently achieve? What health markers are you looking to improve? These should be the focus of your changes, not just moving the numbers on a scale.
Instead of focusing on what you are eating, you should instead look more carefully at the emotions and stressors that influence your choices.
What feelings tend to guide your food decisions? How are you coping with stress other than through food?
How does what you eat make you feel? Getting in touch with your emotions connected with food will help you change unhealthy patterns of behavior more than focuses on what is “good” or “bad” for you.
Another critical mindset shift is to reject the notion that you are somehow broken, and that losing weight will “fix” your problems. If you have body shame issues, past emotional trauma related to abuse or bullying, or other psychological blocks, a quick-fix diet will not help you achieve happiness and better health in the long run.
Nutrition is what you use to fuel your body, to give your cells and organs the nutrients they need to perform and keep you alive. But, when you are using food to soothe emotional pain, combat chronic or elevated stress, or distract you from the unhappiness you feel, nutrition is being used in unhealthy ways, so it becomes necessary to deal with the real issues instead of just focus on the food choices.
Changing how you think about losing weight, eating healthy, and becoming more fit are crucial to developing the kind of habits you need to change your life for good. If you are ready to lose weight for good and see lasting change, then you need to change your thoughts before you change your diet.