New Year, New Diet??
Thinking about starting a new diet this year? Think again. Your brain is always fighting to be back at your set-point weight. It has been well established that we all have a weight that is genetically determined for us. Weight will generally fluctuate above and below this set-point weight for differing external factors like the way we eat and exercise, or medication or water retention. Usually these fluctuations are relatively minor. But the way your brain fights to be at a set-point weight explains why that dieting will always have the reactionary over-eating and binge eating. Sandra Aamodt, a neuroscientist, explains during her TED talk that the brain will work to keep your weight stable as the environment changes, such as during a diet. So having a dramatic weight loss, at no matter what weight you started out with, your body will want gain it back. She explains being at a higher weight for a prolonged period of time can also make your brain change your set-point to be at this higher weight.
Sandra states that if you diet, most people regain the weight back and 40% gain even more after 5 years.
But all is not lost for those that struggle with weight. Having at least one healthy lifestyle factor: eating healthy, exercising, not smoking and drinking moderately makes one's risk of dying very similar at no matter what weight. Meaning no matter if you are thin or overweight, if you have all 4 of these healthy factors, you are at equal risk of dying.
She explains how mindful eating, or being an "intuitive eater", you are less likely to be overweight than the "controlled eaters" that use rules or external factors like a diet to manage their weight. Intuitive eaters also spend less time thinking about food and are less vulnerable to food advertising.
She extols the benefits of mindful eating: "Give yourself permission to eat as much you want and work on figuring out what makes your body feel good." Mindful eating techniques have been the best predictor of improved weight management with my clients that struggle with food and weight. Clients find that to be a healthy eater, food does not need to consume every thought in their life, and that often the dieting strategies they've used in the past use are hindering their ability be at a healthy weight.
If you want to see Sandra Aamodt's fantastic TED talk see below. If you want to learn more about how you can be a more "intuitive eater", book in to spend some time with me here: www.shiftnutrition.ca/book-an-appointment