Dieting doesn’t work. Countless studies have shown that short term gains from any number of fad diets are lost when the interval to recheck weight and general health is extended much beyond six to twelve months.
By the numbers:
$20 Billion: The annual revenue of the U.S. weight-loss industry, including diet books, diet drugs and weight-loss surgeries.
108 Million: The number of people on diets in the United States. Dieters typically make four to five attempts per year.
85 %: The percentage of customers consuming weight-loss products and services who are female.
1 Hour: The amount of time spent on daily exercise by people who lost and kept off at least 30 pounds of excess weight for five years.
95%: The percent of dieters who will regain all their weight in 5 years.
So what’s the problem? Well there are a lot. Let’s look at a few:
We are designed to avoid starvation, not obesity. When we restrict our calories below our metabolic needs, our bodies turn down the thermostat, slow the metabolism, and still store energy in the form of fat. Our ancient ancestors who determined our genetic heritage depended on the land for their food and thus suffered times of feast and famine. In times of feast, they got fat. In times of famine, they burned that fat and didn’t die.
We are pre-programmed to enjoy food. And certain foods up that enjoyment level to addictive heights. From my friend Mark’s blog on food addiction a few days ago: “Food addiction is driven by the same neurotransmitters as drug addiction. The dopamine reward is our brain’s way of saying “That feels good. Do more of that.” https://25inchange.org/food-addiction-therapy-nelson-marks-day-16/
We are surrounded by food and food messages. My friend Nabeeh addressed this on Day 15 in a thoughtful post about food and culture (https://25inchange.org/food-culture-nabeehs-day-15/ ). Don’t know me or Nabeeh? Then how about a team of scientists that was published in a respected journal that said “food marketing environments influence not only what foods consumers buy but also how much. As a general principle, when individuals do not behave in their own interest, markets will feed perverse and sub-optimal behaviors.” (Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2009) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19760473)
So what can we do to actually effect change in ourselves, our communities, and a big system like the food system? Why won’t this doctor just give me some advice about how to lose some weight??? OK, here are some resources to help you on your healthy food journey: Stop calling it a diet. Diets are temporary, healthy eating is forever. Cut back on your portion sizes. Drinking a large glass of water before every meal reduces calorie intake by 20-30%. Never “supersize” your meal. Today’s “small” is an appropriate size at almost every restaurant. Become a mindful, intuitive eater. Here’s how: Treat food as fuel and fun, not a boredom-buster. Hungry? Have your favorite healthy snack. Bored? Drink a big glass of water and go for a walk or call a friend….better yet, call your friend to go for a walk with you. Fuel your active lifestyle. Don’t “do exercise” as an event, live an active lifestyle. It’s the difference between sitting for eight hours and working out at the gym for 30 minutes versus the accumulation of taking the farthest parking space so you have to walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, chasing your kids or your dog for fun, hitting the trails or the slopes every weekend, riding your bike to work instead of driving. If fitness is an event, then it can be cancelled. If activity is a lifestyle, then it’s part of you. Turn off the TV and put down the computer. So much of our food influences come from marketing. Turn it off and walk away. Doctors recommend no more than 2 hours of leisure screen time per day.
25 in Change cares about your health and the health of the world around you. When you are eating well and feeling great, it affects your world. When you are a mindful consumer, it affects the whole world. Want an easy way to increase your healthy food consumption and directly benefit hungry kids on the other side of the world? Sign up for 25 Farms home produce delivery service. Profits go back to 25 in Change so we can keep helping you and helping the hungry.