Why Diets do not work?
Why Diets do not work?
If diets did really work, no one would be hopping on and off every trending diet that hits the market every now and then.
We know from loads of research in the field of Psychophysiology that more than 95% of people who go on diet put back the weight (Plus) in a year or less. What’s critically important here, is that most of these fad diets come with arguments, explanation or some scientific research to support them.
Neuroscience is very careful on sources of research and the industries that fund those types of research, so the research or analysis that Neuroscience takes into consideration is “The Blue Zones” meta-analysis which studied Centenarian’s lifestyle, eating habits and psychology in different parts of the world. You can find this study online and in books.
As you may recall in the previous episode from Food Talk on Quality Food we discussed the Mind / Body connection and how much our Minds influence the digestion and assimilation processes in addition to how this influences the metabolism and calorie burning processes.
In Episode II we continue the discussion on this relationship between our Mind, Body and Food we eat and we dive deeper into How the Mind and in particular The Mindset is the problem and not really the body composition, genes or food are that which causes weight gain or stubborn weight.
On a separate note, keep in Mind the reason part of this series is educational and explaining the Whys, is because when we understand how things work, then it becomes easier for a person to make a change.
Few things you want to keep in Mind when addressing the issue of Diet and all its compulsive behaviors;
- Diet is a Mindset Problem: Your body and genes are not the issue. It’s the thoughts and thinking patterns that make you eat, approach food and your body in a certain way. The Mind-Set which means the Beliefs are shaped and influenced by everyone around us; Friends, Family, Media, Social Media, Bloggers and Vloggers that become health and transformation experts and now we see those fad diets being recommended on all media platforms. All in the name of Fat Loss.
Reminder: Your body is as unique as your finger-prints. What works for one does not necessarily work for another, even if it works for a short while.
- Diets make you stressed: Our Bodies and Minds recognize and perceive diet as danger and threat. In general, when you are under dangerous conditions, you are stressed. This rises the stress hormones especially cortisol, which in turn helps build fat around the abdomen area. Again, the reason this happens is because of the starvation mode, deprivation mentality (you can eat this but not that) and because both the Body and Mind want to protect their functioning and existence.
- Diets eat up your energy. If you are not getting enough nutrients that support your body or lifestyle, you are naturally going to feel low on energy. This persistent state leads to emotional fluctuations and then a rush to binge on some “pick me up foods” like something sweet or salty. This state does not serve us when we have demanding jobs that require high level of cognitive engagement. Consider the fact that your Brain consumes approximately 20% of your energy and that is at resting state. So imagine how much energy you need or lack if your body is not getting enough of the fuel it requires.
So much of the above points are accompanied with other obstacles that prevent people from being in touch with what is happening in their bodies and some of those trends which have become normal are:
The Mind-less instead of Mindful eating: How many of you today eat their meals on their desks or in the car or eat while using their mobiles or laptops? Other than the fact that you’ve missed on approximately 40% of what helps the digestion process, eating fast within less than 20 mins can cause discomfort in the stomach (because the stomach would be doing the job of the teeth), you didn’t pay attention to the quality of food neither the quantity and none of those serve your metabolism or digestion.
Not all fat is bad and should be villainized. Our bodies need fat and so does our Brains that constitute of more than 60% of fat for their proper functioning. Balance is key in both; the quality of fat you are consuming and the quantity so that your body can find the balance.
A critical point: Our Bodies are old-fashioned and their needs are basic. I’m sure you hear a lot nowadays, “get that bikini body, “time for your summer body”, “Cheat day”, “cheat weekend”, “shock your body” … the list goes on. Well? Our bodies do not understand neither operate as per the fashion or any diet-formula and they do not need any “Shocks”. They’re simple and they understand getting nutritious food to continue to do what they are designed to do.
What can you do today to start moving into a more Conscious or Mindful Eating lifestyle?
- Meal and Ingredients Planning: I can’t emphasize enough how this would make your life easier.
Plan your Grocery list and put in your kitchen Quality Food that has variety of ingredients, nutrients that is fresh, clean and you enjoy eating. Grocery shopping has never been easier seeing your shopping list in pictures and description. Tip: Decide what you want to cook for the week and then buy the ingredients you need.
Plan what goes in your kitchen cupboards as snacks, pick-me up food, even what goes into your bag for when you need to “eat on the go” so you don’t set yourself to primal hunger.
- You don’t have time to cook? Buy meals that have all the above: Quality food means nutritious, clean, fresh, has variety of ingredients and nutrients and closer to your home cooking. We all have weeks and days that we either are not in the mood to cook, or are busy. Ready-made meals are super helpful.
- Mindful eating: Give yourself at least 20 mins to eat your meal without any distraction. No mobile or laptop. Just focus on the meal, enjoy it, check the quality, the smell, the texture and be conscious of your surroundings while enjoying your meal. It takes 20 mins for the satiety message to go from the stomach to the brain. It will feel weird at first, but you will see a huge difference in a week or so if you follow this simple rule.
We will continue with our tips on Mindful Eating or what I would like to call Dynamic Eating in the next Episode of Food Talk and we will dive deeper into tips that can help you shed that extra diet weight and help yourself and body reach the balance you both are seeking.
To Your Health,
Mental Wellness practitioner
Applied Neuroscience & Brain Health