Crash Diet – Emotional Fallout

Crash Diet – Emotional Fallout

A couple of conversations I’ve had in the past few days reminded me of just how dangerous fasts and crash diets can be, emotionally if not physically.

When the allocated time is up, you love the fact that you’ve lost weight but you’re feeling so hungry and deprived that your willpower will be tested to its limit. I believe that using willpower to control behaviour is like holding your breath – you can do it, but only for so long. Which is why around 95 per cent of people who lose weight on any diet regain it all, or even a bit more. I’m sure the figure would be close to 100 per cent for people who’ve been literally starving themselves.

Does that mean we’re incapable of change? Absolutely not! As I say in my book ‘Staying well for life’, diets may not work but there’s an alternative that does – and it’s as easy as becoming aware of what you eat and then making some simple choices.

The problem for many of us is that the choices seem almost too simple.

For instance, when you’ve grown up in a dieting culture, it’s hard to accept that there’s nothing you can’t eat in moderation. Yet you’re a lot more likely to succeed in the long term if you know you can enjoy your favourite foods when you genuinely want like them. With the right approach, you won’t feel guilty afterwards.

It can also be hard to believe that you don’t have to be ‘on a diet’ forever. Your aim is a lifetime of eating as much nutritious and enjoyable food as you need to stay healthy and keep your body as you like it without ever feeling deprived.

The fable of the hare and the tortoise might have been written for people who want to lose weight.

Our metabolism is very clever. When there doesn’t seem to be enough food around, it slows down – handy in a famine or a harsh winter, not so handy when you’re deliberately limiting your intake in order to lose weight.

If you would like to lose a substantial amount of weight, half a kilo a week may sound like too little to aim for. But, if you try to go faster, you could sabotage yourself by slowing down your metabolism and making each kilo harder to lose than the last.

It’s also very easy to be so focused on the short term that we lose sight of the benefits that develop slowly but extend far into the future.

The idea that it might take two, three or even five years to achieve your ideal weight might sound like too long to wait. But that time will come and, if you have moved closer to your goal, you will feel a lot better than if you had lost nothing or, worse still, continued to gain weight.

It’s the small steps you take each day that determine how you will look and feel in the future.