Why I’ll Never Go on Another Diet (A.K.A., Proof That Diets Don’t Work)

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One of the things I’ve realized at my job—and particularly while writing this recent story about food shaming–is that food judgments and the culture around dieting is such an accepted part of our culture that oftentimes you don’t even realize you’re thinking of foods as good or bad or setting restrictive rules for yourself. And I’m certainly no exception—I catch myself thinking this way all the time. Certain “truisms” about food are so deeply ingrained in us—like that French fries are “bad” and broccoli is “good”—that the idea that these beliefs might be detrimental to our health and wellbeing seems ludicrous.

The same goes for dieting. Dieting helps people get to a healthy weight, right? And in a country filled with so much obesity, that can’t possibly be a bad thing. Except that it is—and there are scientific studies to back it up. Lately, I’ve been reading more about mindful eating and intuitive eating, and I have to say that I find their premises pretty compelling: Essentially, they claim that restrictive eating and dieting disconnects you from your ability to listen to your body’s hunger cues and eat according to them—and this often leads to bingeing, weight gain, and sometimes even eating disorders. Today, I watched this interesting video that touches on some of the research that backs this up:

The more I learn about the consequences of restricting, the more convinced I become that it’s not the answer—which is why I signed up for a 21-day intuitive eating challenge from certified holistic health coach Jamie Mendell that starts next week.

I have to admit that I am nervous to completely abandon practices like calorie counting and throw nutrition knowledge to the wind in the name of listening to my body. (What if I eat a slice of pizza for lunch because that’s what I’m truly craving…only to stress eat in the afternoon, which is something that often happens when I’m at work? Will I end up kicking myself for not having chosen the salad for lunch instead?) But I’m willing to give the challenge a try if it means finding my way to a saner, more balanced relationship with food. I can’t wait to tell you how it goes.

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