THE BLOG

3 Reasons You Can't Break Free From Yo-Yo Dieting

Build a relationship with food that is all-inclusive, not restrictive. Fuel your body with whole foods, nutrients, and minerals but don't tell yourself certain food are bad, because that just sets you up for failure.
12/15/2015 12:03pm ET | Updated December 15, 2016
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
pretty girl selects pizza or...

The cycle goes something like this...

  • You decide you're tired of your clothes not fitting and you're ready to make some changes.
  • You start a new diet.
  • You feel like THIS is it, THIS is the answer to all your prayers.
  • You last a few days, maybe we few weeks.
  • You start seeing results and you get excited, but then for one reason or another, you fall off track.
  • And then eventually, the cycle starts all over again.

Why does that always happen? Is it that you need more willpower or to try harder?

Today, I'm going to share 3 of the most surprising (and common) reasons why you can't seem to stick with a diet, even after you've seen some positive results.

3 Reasons You Can't Break Free From Yo-Yo Dieting

1. Deprivation is not Sustainable

For most diets, it boils down to calories in versus calories out. Thus restricting calories becomes the name of the game, often to the point of a severe deficit. After all, we are an immediate gratification society and we want results yesterday, right?

We focus on cutting everything out, i.e. sugar, sodium, fruit, dairy... all things tasty! It's common to feel tired (ahem... exhausted) and to find yourself daydreaming about your favorite restricted foods.

You think this is just because your body is detoxing from sugar and whatever non-healthy things you've pinpointed as the culprit, but maybe it's not.

Maybe this is your body saying, "Hey, I deserve to feel pleasure from food and you are denying me of that."

Eating is like sex. It's supposed to be enjoyable.

If it wasn't, we wouldn't do it and mankind would not go on. So, it's natural and good for us to get pleasure from eating food.

Solution

The solution is to adopt the non-diet approach to weight loss. It's not about restriction and cutting out all of your favorites, it's about nourishing your way toward your goals.

Choose your 3 healthy non-negotiables that keep you feeling satisfied and balanced while you're on your way to your dream body goals.

Focus on consistency over perfection or rigid rules.

Baby steps practiced consistently over time add up to long-term sustainable change.

Remember, the goal is sustainability, NOT a quick fix (that you'll never be able to keep up for the long-term).

2. Release Fear and Food Rules

If you've been on many diets, I'm betting you know the following feelings well:

  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Shame

Fear of "bad" food.

Guilt for making "bad" choices, which lead to even more unhealthy choices.

Shame over decisions you made when you felt out of control.

Where does this start and how do we heal ourselves so we no longer battle with these emotions that feed the self-destructive cycle?

It begins with our relationship with food. All food. It seems like the list of "bad" foods is forever growing, and it gets so confusing when you see a certain food on the bad food list one day and the good food list the next.

The media and so-called experts can never make up their minds.

  • Fruit
  • Carbs
  • Dairy
  • Sodium
  • Gluten
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Soy
  • Meat

The list goes on and on.

When I was deep into yo-yo dieting, I struggled so much with this. I got to the point where I was afraid to eat anything because at one point or another I had heard it was bad for me.

I had forgotten something really important.

I can choose to live in a world of inclusion and moderation.

I don't need to give up my power, letting magazines and food lists be the ultimate boss of me.

Research studies are proving new things to be true every single day. Remember when we used to think that high cholesterol was across the board bad, and now science is proving new information to be true?

Solution

You can drive yourself crazy trying to follow all of the food rules. But ultimately you have to take control of your own health.

You have to stop solely listening to what "they" say, and above all else, check in with your own inner guidance and wisdom and choose what's best for your unique goals and preferences.

This is a process, it doesn't happen over night. It's about taking action, analyzing, adjusting. It's about getting support, asking questions, and then ultimately checking in to decide what's best for you.

3. Working WITH Your Body Rather Than Against It

Back when I was dieting, I cut out most non-veggie carbs and ALL sugar... mostly. Then, on special occasions or on vacation I would splurge and have bread, sugar, or alcohol.

Guess what happened next.

The next day my face looked like a puffer fish and the skin on my abdomen actually hurt because I was retaining so much water.

Can you relate?

When many of my coaching clients first come to me, they are so scared of carbs and sugar for this very reason. They think they are sensitive to them and the truth is that they are!

Because after not having carbs and sugar for so long, your body doesn't know what to do with them. But it doesn't have to be that way.

You can show your body that carbs are safe. You can train it to expect them and know what to do with them.

We think that sugar is the devil and it's not. It's our unhealthy behaviors and relationship with it that is the problem, not the food itself.

We're so black and white, on or off. We're either eating a ton of it or none of it. Why can't we find our own personal middle ground?

I know myself. I know that I am not going to give up bread and sugar forever.

So, if I know that, why would I ever restrict them from my diet completely? That's just going to set me up for failure because:

  1. I'm going to feel really guilty if I tell myself I can't eat them, and then I do.

  • When I do eat them, I'm probably going to eat way too much because I feel like, "Omg, I'm off the wagon, I better eat ALL the cookies, because this is my last chance!"
  • When I eventually do eat them after restricting them for some time my body is going to freak out and not know how to handle them because it's not used to them.
  • Solution

    Build a relationship with food that is all-inclusive, not restrictive. Fuel your body with whole foods, nutrients, and minerals but don't tell yourself certain food are bad, because that just sets you up for failure.

    Food is not moralistic. Stop making blanket lists of good and bad. Listen to your own body. Give yourself permission to experiment and then adjust based on what you find out for yourself.

    Can you relate? I'd love to hear your biggest takeaway in the comments below!

    Sheila Viers is a Health and Life Coach.

    Follow Sheila on Instagram at https://instagram.com/sheilaviers.