I’m an Eating Psychology Expert. Here’s Why Diets Don’t Work – Yahoo Lifestyle
It’s resolution time again, and if you’re like most people, eating “better” may be one of your goals for the new year. According to a survey on 2021 resolutions, the most common commitments people made were to exercise more (46 percent), improve their diet (45 percent), or lose weight (44 percent).
In fact, as many as 45 million Americans begin a diet each year. But research shows that weight-loss diets just don’t work. They’re unsustainable and you’re likely to regain the weight.
What if, instead of plotting how you’ll restrict your calories in the new year, you resolved to feel good about the food you eat?
That’s the advice of eating psychology expert Elise Museles, author of Food Story: Rewrite the Way You Eat, Think & Live. Museles encourages readers to consider their personal food stories–how they were raised around food, their ideas and rules about diet, and the emotions they feel when they’re eating–both positive and negative. She says discovering your story about food is key to creating a healthy new narrative about what, why, when, and where to eat.
See also: I’m Learning to Love My Post-Lockdown Body. You Can Love Yours, Too
Why diets don’t work
The problem with new year diet resolutions, according to Museles, is that most people try to make big, sweeping changes all at once. That tactic is not only unsustainable–it’s actually stressful. And stress, she says, is an anti-nutrient. Feeling agitated or worried while you’re eating changes the body’s physiology. Guilt and shame can signal the body to produce stress hormones that negatively affect digestion.
“When we sit down to eat and think ‘I shouldn’t be eating this’… it creates a stress response in the system,” she says. “What that means is your cortisol is raised. Your metabolism doesn’t work as efficiently. You aren’t assimilating all the nutrients. Your body goes into fight or flight.” Yes, you’re eating, but you’re not feeding yourself.
By figuring out your food story, you can get to the root of your eating patterns and decide where-and if–you want to make changes. Like yoga, the process is never perfect, but practice helps you continually grow. Here are some of Museles’ ideas to get you started:
Make one small change a month
There’s a lot of motivation to make big changes at the beginning of the year. But smaller adjustments are easier and more sustainable. Instead of a massive diet overhaul that can feel overwhelming, try picking one habit or mindset each month. Maybe January …….