At this point you may have heard the buzz around the non-diet approach.
Eating the foods you enjoy, listening to your hunger and fullness cues, letting go of restriction… It all sounds pretty great, right?
Yeah, except for the whole, “BUT IF I DO ALL THAT AREN’T I JUST GOING TO GAIN WEIGHT FOREVER?!” thing.
This fear of weight gain is real and valid and we want you to hear first and foremost that it is totally normal. In fact if you didn’t fear weight gain, you probably wouldn’t be struggling. And if you weren’t struggling, you wouldn’t be reading this post.
So let’s make it clear that the mere fact that you fear changes in your body does not disqualify you in engaging in the non-diet approach. Rather it is the exact reason why letting go of the diet mentality is the first step in making peace with food and your body. However, unless you take the time to challenge these beliefs rooted in dieting and restricting your body size, then you can only expect to remain demobilized in your fears… AKA stuck.
The attraction of diets and other forms of food restriction is this assumed guarantee of weight loss. However when you look at the research, the evidence shows that 98% of dieters gain the weight back (and often more) over the span of 5 years. How else do you think the diet industry has grown to be a mutli-billion dollar industry?
It’s set up for dieters to fail in order for them to be lifelong customers. That means that dieting, in fact, is not a guarantee of weight loss, but a guarantee of weight gain at some point in the journey. It literally teaches your body how to gain weight by slowing your metabolic rate, decreasing your energetic output, increasing your hunger levels, and causing you to have obsessive thoughts about food.
If you continue to engage in weight restriction, this sends a signal to your brain to drive up your food cravings and intensify your hunger. That’s why the only solution to breaking this cycle is to listen to your body signals and neutralize the foods you have deemed “bad” for so long. This will ultimately provide a safe place for your body to thrive and bring you to your set point weight.
(Ok, yeah, when we put it that way… It sounds easy, right? But the truth is, this work is challenging and messy and multifaceted. That’s why we created our Foundations program.)
Anyway, your set point weight is the weight in which you body happily sits when it’s eating regularly according to its needs without interference or disruption. Your body loves being at its set point because it is the place where it feels well-nourished and fueled for all the things it is capable of. However when you’ve been restricting your food in order to manipulate your weight, your set point is enduring a whole lot of pressure– like a beach ball being held under water. Every day it fights to bob comfortably on the surface but dieting continues to force it under. Over time, your body get smart and may actually raise your set point by slowing your metabolism in order to protect the body from future “famine”. These factors along with binge cycles in response to this restriction lead to a set point higher than pre-dieting.
So what happens when you stop forcing your body weight to a certain size? We’re so glad you asked. Your body actually settles at its healthy weight. Some may experience initial weight gain as a symptom of the body’s need to heal and make peace with certain foods, but eventually, with the absence of the restrict-binge-guilt cycle and a stable food environment, there is no longer the need for your body to send dramatic signals from a place of deprivation. This also means that your weight will not continue to just go up and up and up. If you feel that your current body weight may be higher than your set point (which be thy way, can only be discovered through healing your relationship with food and NOT comparing your current eight to that of your 21-year old-self), it is very possible that this higher weight is merely symptomatic of dieting aka forcing your body beneath its set point and bingeing as a consequence.
So at the end of the day, it is your choice.
There’s the choice to continue to pursue intentional weight loss with the 98% chance of gaining back the weight, pushing up your set point, and allowing these cyclical behaviors to overrun your life.
Or there’s the choice to give your body a chance to heal and to discover how life opens up when you’re living in a body that’s not battling, fighting, or resisting, but thriving and flourishing in more ways than you could ever imagine.