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6 Tips to Get Out of Yo-Yo Diets and Create Healthy Eating Habits

October 4, 2017 | Aya Wellness

Aya Wellness Nutrition TipHave you tried several different diet programs only to find that you weren’t able to maintain the results? Are you tired of restricting food in order to lose weight?

In this article we’ll walk through the process of how-to overcome Yo-Yo dieting and create healthy eating habits. Let’s start by walking through the vicious cycle of yo-yo-dieting.

 The Yo-Yo Dieting Cycle

  • You’re excited to try something new.
  • You’re convinced it’s going to ‘fix’ you.
  • You’re 100% in.
  • After a certain amount of time, you either get tired of the food or you start craving your favorite foods.
  • You eat one thing you are not ‘supposed to.’
  • You feel like you failed.
  • You go back to old habits and eat even more than you used to because you missed your favorite foods.
  • A few months later, you feel bad about the way your body looks, you feel ‘out of control’ and you are ready to start the cycle all over again. Maybe you see a friend trying a diet or you see a commercial for a diet program. Before you know it, you’re signed up and excited to start the process again.

Sound familiar?

You may be surprised to hear that there is no single research study that proves dieting is effective for long-term weight loss. Long-term diet studies show that people who go on diets gain the weight back plus some additional pounds when they finish their diet. Most of the contestants from the Biggest Loser TV show end up gaining weight back and their metabolism is slower than when they first started their weight loss journey.

So why is it that people still turn back to dieting even though it’s not working for them? As a culture we are taught that if you want to lose weight you should go on a diet. We’re taught this from a very young age through media, family and friends.

People also return to dieting because it seems like a quick fix. It feels like it doesn’t take much effort because you can just eat the bars, drink the shakes or eat the meals that are provided. Diets are also tempting because there is a clear structure to follow, which takes the thinking out of what to eat.

I can think of nothing worse than gaining and losing the same 20 pounds over and over again. It is disheartening and sends the message that maybe you are not ‘trying hard enough’ or that ‘you are never going to lose weight.’ It’s time to get out of this vicious cycle and try a new approach. Developing healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be hard or boring. It simply takes a mindset shift and some clear guidelines to help you get there.

6 Steps To Get Out Of Yo-Yo Dieting:

  1. Drop the perfectionism. Dieting involves an all or nothing mindset. Either you are on a diet or you are off it. Instead, switch to an 80/20 mindset. If you eat healthy foods 80% of the time and less nutritious foods 20% of the time, you will still see good results. Naturally if we are told that we can’t have a certain food, we are going to think about it, want it more and possibly over-indulge once we have access to it again.
  2. Drop the guilt. It’s not the one cookie or the one bowl of ice cream that you ate that’s going to make you gain weight. The feeling of guilt after you eat something ‘bad’ fuels you to feel mad at yourself for eating the food, which leads to eating more of the same food to make you feel better. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Tell yourself that it’s okay to eat the cookie or ice cream. Enjoy the flavor of it. Then at the next meal or snack, focus on making healthier choices.
  3. Switch your focus from quantity to quality. Not all calories are created equal. You could eat 100 calories of broccoli or 100 calories of cookies and they will have two completely different effects on your body. Focus on eating foods that provide nourishment to your body instead of how many ‘points’ or ‘calories’ they contain. Most of my clients who are trying to lose weight are actually not eating enough. They will either skip meals or eat small portions because they are scared that food will make them gain weight. Skipping meals and not eating enough actually slows down your metabolism, which definitely doesn’t help with weight loss.
  4. Listen to your body. Don’t focus on what everyone else tells you to do. Pay attention to when you are hungry and when you are full. Keep a food journal to track what you are eating and how you feel throughout the day. You may notice that every time you eat dairy your nose gets stuffy or you have to run to the bathroom. Maybe you notice that when you eat too much sugar you get a headache. Let your body be your guide – you can be your own nutritionist.
  5. Add some flavor to your food! Healthy food does not have to be bland. Use herbs, spices, citrus, onion and garlic to flavor your food. Try one new recipe per week. Think about what flavor profiles you like to eat at restaurants. For instance, do you like Mexican, Italian or Mediterranean food? Look up the spices that they use for those types of dishes and start using them in your food. Some of my favorite spices and healthy flavor additions are cinnamon, cumin, a good quality sea salt, garlic powder and lemon juice.
  6. Throw away your bathroom scale. Believe it or not, the scale is not a good tool to determine if you are on track with your weight loss. Our water weight fluctuates on a daily basis which affects the number on the scale. If you can’t step on the scale without getting emotional about it, you should throw it out. Focus more on how your clothes fit and how your body feels. Take the pressure off the number. Remember, if you eat healthier and exercise more, it’s likely that you will put on muscle and lose fat at the same time, which means the scale might not move as fast as you think.

You don’t have to make these changes alone! It’s important to have support from family members, friends, coworkers, a nutritionist or a health coach. Support during this process is essential for your success.

This Aya Wellness tip is brought to you by Amy Krasner of Nourished Balance.