Dieting fears ruining food enjoyment

And the non-dieting approach to weight loss.

Disordered eating

With the ever-increasing list of fad diets that the average person tries, it’s no wonder we have lost our food enjoyment and it’s hardly surprising that ‘disordered eating’ is on the rise.  

It’s hard to go a day without hearing about the latest food craze and it can be tricky not being influenced by what you have heard. Worse still, you start to categorize food into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. You try to avoid anything on the long list of ‘bad’ foods but more often than not, we slip up when we’re hungry, on the go or going out for a meal. 

Disordered eating is not the same as an eating disorder.  It is estimated that 1 million Australians practice food restriction or tamper with their diets in order to lose weight. This can be anything from skipping breakfast, avoiding carbohydrates, cutting out certain sugars or avoiding all fats. 

Despite well intended efforts to improve health and lose weight, these eating practices don’t do much for overall health and self-empowerment when it comes to food. 

At the same time, these practices can also lead to unhealthier relationships with food with approximately 20% of the female population having an undiagnosed eating disorder. The statistics can be startling with 65% of females as young as 15 years old on a diet with 8% are severely dieting.

The problem is not with just the diets themselves, some of which cause nutrient deficiencies or other undesirable outcomes like constipation.  The longer lasting impact however, is the psychological bearing that diets have on your state of mind. 

Studies have shown that maintaining a consistently slightly higher body weight is much better for your overall health than yo-yoing in body weight from year to year due to dieting. 

The non-dieting approach to weight loss

This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel with weight loss, it means you need a better approach. We recommend the ‘non-dieting approach’ to weight loss. 

The non-dieting approach includes: 

  • listen to your body’s natural hunger cues
  • eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full
  • get rid of your good and bad food lists. This is because when trying to avoid foods you’re not supposed to eat, it only makes you want to eat it more! Luckily, including a few small squares of chocolate post dinner may be a better way to stay on track than trying to avoid it all together.
  • Cut back on rich, highly processed and sugary foods like cakes, biscuits and takeaway for good results. Save these fun foods for special occasions instead of putting them on a bad food list.
  • Choose wholesome, fresh food that makes you feel good, energetic and satisfied.  

Stop fearing food and see it for what it is, something that is meant to taste good and be enjoyed.  Food should be nourishing, respected and eaten mindfully. 

Gabrielle Maston

Gabrielle is a health professional who has a drive for life and loves adventure. She is a sports & clinical dietitian, exercise physiologist and personal trainer. This allows her to decipher fact from fiction in all things nutrition and fitness.

To Gabrielle, health is not only about the science of the human body, it’s also about the mind. Self belief, body love and trying new things will build confidence and ultimately lead to good health. 

If you need help with an individualised plan for sport, health or weight loss, visit her website for more information: www.changingshape.net.au