WELLNESS & WELL-BEING The REAL Promise of Dieting By Shannon Hayes Buescher D ieting is a $60 billion-plus industry, which has done an amazing job dressing up the latest diet, powder, pill, superfood and workout routine to promise you a slimmer, thinner, fitter, better you. You will cut out sugar, only eat protein and vegetables, drink detox shakes religiously every morning, take pills to decrease hunger, and exhaust yourself working out every day. And you lose weight. It works. You bought in. But one morning, you’re too tired to workout, the thought of another piece of chicken makes you sick, or you ate birthday cake at the party. You blew it. You spiral into days, weeks, maybe mon ths of overeating, not going to the gym and feeling like a failure. But you, my friend, are not the failure - the diet was! Having enough willpower will never be the answer. Diets are restrictive. They cut out food groups, provide too little calories, and create rules that set you up to feel like you are failing if you break even one of them. It creates a prison with food, instead of a nourishing relationship. I have often heard, “If I’m hungry, I must be doing it right.” Wrong. This is one of the setups with dieting. Your body does not know the difference from self-induced restriction or famine; it goes into protection mode. Your metabolism slows down to conserve energy, your body starts breaking down muscle for fuel and turns it into carbohydrates to fuel your brain. Your brain cannot function without carbohydrates. This is what creates the breaking point of having to consume some form of carbohydrate when they are cut out. Your brain sends the signals that it needs food, and you will feel like you just can’t stop eating. Because of this overeating and the protection factor, your body will overproduce fatty tissue for the next famine. With each new diet, the metabolism slows down more. This is why it is harder to lose weight with each new diet if you’ve been a chronic dieter. Your body will gain all the weight back more quickly and then some, all in the form of fatty tissue. Your new diet will never let you see this fine print of dieting. What’s the answer? DO NOT DIET. Listen to your body. It will tell you when it’s hungry and full. It is normal to be hungry every three or four hours. Eat foods that satisfy you. Listen to how your body feels after you eat a meal. Does it feel energized and fueled, or does it feel tired, gassy and bloated? All of that is data on how your body is reacting to a certain food. Most of all, be mindful while you are eating. Slow down and taste your food. This is the key. All of the answers are inside of you. You just have to learn to listen. Buescher is a registered and licensed dietitian. She has over 15 years of experience with nutritional counseling in sports nutrition, eating disorders and a non-diet approach to food. Visit her website at 92 GAZELLE