Why Diets Don't Work...
This week's guest post is from our very own Jason Livingston of grassrootsns.com! Trust us when we say this is one you shouldn't not read!!! Be sure to check out his website and reach out if you have any questions. Don't forget to subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date on our blog!
Let me begin by conceding a point. All diets effectively reduce body fat in the short term. Did you catch that? In-the-short-term. By simply reducing calories from sugar and other processed carbohydrates, AND increasing fiber, which ALL diets do, you will lose weight. However, all diets ultimately fail for one very important reason, they ignore the underlying addictive properties of processed food, especially sugar.
Grassroots Nutrition System is designed to help individuals and families overcome sugar addiction, the most illusive and difficult problem that plagues us all. Unlike fad diets, which by definition are temporary, our approach can be characterized as a lifestyle intervention. Put simply, it is the process of learning how to manage calories from sugar and other processed carbohydrates, which is the key to keeping your unwanted weight off for good. Our client’s engage in a process intended to lower their dependance on sugary food and drink, while at the same time learn how to safely incorporate these calories into their life. Needless to say, most people need help to stop. Sugar addiction is a reality for most people and mastery only comes with education, hard work, and diligence.
Consider this thought experiment for a moment: It’s June 1st and spring is almost over, which means summer is right around the corner. You think to yourself, “‘self’ we have gotta get our stuff together this year… this is the year! We’re going to lose those extra pounds, fit into that bathing suit, and enjoy the water, sun and fun!” First thing you do is dial-up that trusty diet you’ve been on and off of for years now (but this IS the year, right?), hit that diet hard for a couple to three weeks, then before you know it, Fourth of July bbq comes and you “cheat” a little… no big deal right? The next morning comes, you step on the scale only to see that you gained 4 lbs, 4 LBS!!!!??? Frustration sets in because you worked so hard for the last few weeks and suddenly your motivation drops to zero. Before long, the lost weight is back and the end of summer is near
All of us have experienced this process at some point in our life. I am here to tell you that it’s not your fault, you are not weak, your situation is not hopeless. You are a victim of a toxic food environment and if we don’t do something for ourselves it will become an even bigger problem for our children. All of us are losing our connection to real food, relying more and more on corporations and government to cultivate our health.
The fact of the matter is, for any “successful” dieter, the moment you reintroduce calories from sugar and other processed carbohydrates you are plodding a course up a slippery slope that gets steeper and steeper with every bite you take. Before you know it you have put back on your lost weight and then some.
My concern as a health educator is to help individuals maintain these lost pounds in perpetuity, by incorporating education, mindfulness training and REhabituation techniques. After all, what good is a diet if you fail to maintain the weight lost?! I call this process: The art and science of healthy living. The science, believe it or not, is well in hand for those of us following the experts and not the media (click here for a list of references). However, the art of healthy living is where the rubber meets the road in terms of perpetual success. It also happens to be my focus and expertise; how your particular lifestyle, habits, and relationships dictate your fat fate, as it were. I talk with my clients NOT about superficial goals like attaining a specific weight, or looking good for summer; instead we focus on behavior modification techniques, reducing risk of cancer and other metabolic diseases, and improving overall psychological well-being.
Many of you reading this are currently on a diet. To you let me say, if you like your current diet… you can keep it. As I said before, they all work by effectively reducing calories from sugar AND increasing fiber. But, pay especially close attention to the following list because you are increasingly likely to fall victim to it as you invariably begin to reintroduce those calories from sugar and other processed carbohydrates. Take each of these reasons to heart and treat them like a challenge. A promise to yourself that you WILL NOT become a statistic.
THREE REASONS (why diets inevitably fail):
1) You’re a monkey: In short, you have an ancient computer in your head that simply wants to reproduce, not die, and to STORE FAT for a famine that never comes. Unfortunately, in a world of cheap and abundant calories, the latter is increasingly easier to accomplish. Tip: help to keep the monkey-brain in check by adhering to this simple lifestyle directive – if you find yourself wanting a treat after a meal, pop a piece of sugar-free gum, or if it’s past dinner, brush your teeth. This will reduce cravings to a manageable level thus allowing you to decline the tempting treat.
2) You’re a junky: Sugar¹ addiction is real. Your brain likes to run on the molecule glucose (aka – the energy of life). Because of this fact, your brain will seek out those specific calories by imbuing in you specific cravings for things like bread, pasta, rice and sugary foods (all contain high amounts of glucose). Due to their processed nature, these foods tend to be especially high in glucose. Here’s the kicker, the more of this type of food you consume the more you crave. Sugar and other processed carbohydrate consumption begets further consumption of these foods thus increasing the volume you’re able to consume, and therein lies the rub. Tip: no sugar or other carbs before 12p. By sticking to protein, fat and vegetable² in the morning you accomplish two goals: (1) effectively limiting the amount of calories from sugar and other carbs you’re able to consume throughout the day, and (2) not priming the brain with carbs and sugars first thing in the morning will successfully reduce cravings for those foods throughout the day.
3) Be a creature of intention: Not a creature of habit. If you pay attention you will notice that many of your “decisions” with regard to food and drink are predetermined. Meaning they tend to occur at a specific time, with specific people, or immediately following another activity (e.g. driving to work, an afternoon vending machine snack, social activities/clubs, etc). All too often unhealthy consequences travel with these relationships and behaviors. Conversely, they can also carry with them feelings of happiness, nostalgia, or excitement, further undermining your goal of reducing these calories. Point is, all of us carry our own psychological baggage which dictates what, where and how much we eat and drink. Unpacking this baggage can be difficult, sure, but more often than not it illuminates aspects of your decision making process that are easier to change once you’ve shined the light on them. Take this example – you stop at McDonalds on your way to work every morning because “it’s convenient”, you say. If you are being honest, lack of time is not the problem, instead your desire for that particular food is stronger than your motivation to stop. If time really is your problem, however, here is some helpful advice. Tip: try waking up 2 min early everyday for a week. After 5 days you won’t even notice that you’re waking up a full 10 minutes earlier because of the incremental decrease in sleep. You’ve effectively bought yourself 10 min in the morning to prepare and eat a healthy breakfast at home.
Our philosophy is to empower you to make smart decisions and learn how to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your unique life. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, married or single, executive or unemployed, your lifestyles vary greatly. With these differences come unique hurdles one must overcome in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Grassroots can help you regain control and overcome these hurdles because our focus is on the individual, not the bottom line. Your success will drive our success, one person at a time.
1 The term “sugar”, in the context of this article, is defined as a food or drink which contains the molecule fructose (fruit sugar) minus it’s inherent fiber. Think, orange good – orange juice bad. There are more than 56 different names for sugar and all of them are utilized by the food companies to get you to buy more.
2 Grassroots Nutrition System does not categorize vegetables as “carbs.” Although vegetables contain glucose, the difference is the inherent fiber contained in the food itself. The takeaway, real food contains fiber – processed food does not.