What’s Wrong with Conventional Weight Loss Diets
There is more to food than just nutrients. We derive pleasure and emotional satisfaction as well as physical sustenance from eating. The problem with most diets is that they involve a great deal of deprivation. In addition to sometimes making us overwhelmingly hungry, many weight loss diets leave us feeling psychologically and emotionally deprived, as if all pleasure vanished from our lives. That’s a lot to give up.
A restrictive diet can be like a bossy, seemingly arbitrary teacher or parent wagging a finger and saying, “No!” to everything we want. The diet tells us what to do constantly and, at least as far as food goes, makes most of our decisions for us. Because eating is basic to satisfaction, most people find this degree of control over their lives hard to endure for very long.
Hunger is the most significant problem with weight loss diets. If we muster up enough willpower, we can tolerate hunger for a few days, but soon it will seemingly overtake our lives. Because we are physically hungry, food will become an all-consuming passion. We will have difficulty concentrating on almost anything else because we will be thinking continually about how long it will be until the next meal and what we are or are not allowed to eat. A diet that regularly results in hunger is not a diet that anyone can live with for very long. The most serious problem caused by hunger is that if it is prolonged, it causes the release of adrenal hormones which set off a hormonal cascade that makes it impossible for us to burn body fat and tells our body, “We’re living in a land of famine. Hold onto and deposit incoming food.” The result of hunger can be more body fat rather than less.
On some of the more reasonable diets, we may not actually be hungry all the time, but we may still feel deprived psychologically and emotionally. Some diets are nutritionally adequate but do not meet our needs for the pleasure which is normally derived from eating. The foods allowed on the diet may be boring, bland, or things that we hate to eat. We miss our favorite foods.
The most discouraging problem with weight loss diets is that many of them do not work long-term. We may lose weight and reach our goal, but as soon as we liberalize our eating habits, the pounds return. Low-calorie, low-fat diets often lead to loss of muscle mass rather than losing fat. With less muscle to burn calories, this type of diet effectively reduces metabolic rate so food is burned more slowly and thus we need less food. The only way to keep weight off with a low-calorie diet is to continue to consume a very low number of calories indefinitely. This is unpleasant and near-impossible to do, so most of the time standard weight loss diets fail to produce long-term weight loss.
Many weight loss diets are time-consuming and complex. They require constant recording of the foods eaten. Then the calories, points, grams of carbohydrates, or fat grams consumed must be tallied up throughout the day to prevent exceeding one’s daily allotment. I don’t know about you, but my life is already too busy without adding “food math” to my to-do list!
Most weight loss diets have relatively narrow prescribed lists of allowed or preferred foods. If people with multiple food allergies cross off all the foods they are allergic to from the diet’s list, the remaining food may be nutritionally inadequate.
So what must we do to lose weight? A non-diet – an eating plan that is not overly restrictive, supplies all of our nutritional requirements, and permits choices that respect our need for the pleasure and emotional satisfaction that should come from food. This plan must accommodate our food allergies or gluten-intolerance and be such that we can comfortably follow it as a routine part of our daily lives. Hunger and pleasure deprivation cannot be part of any eating plan we expect to be able to stay on for more than a few days. In addition, the eating plan must “work” and result in a healthy weight that is easily maintained permanently.
We need a healthy eating plan that lets us do things our way, both psychologically and physically, and that controls our body chemistry to eliminate hunger and promote the burning of fat. It must enable us to receive pleasure from eating. It must take into account our food allergies or intolerances and work with our unique physiology rather than against it. Read on to find our more about eating YOUR body’s way.