When you need to get in shape, starting a diet is a big lifestyle change that many people attempt. However, it’s easy to get caught up in diet culture habits like calorie-counting or constantly scrutinising your body. Even after you’re reached a goal weight, it may be hard to break the cycle. For some people, when they get healthier, they resume their previous diet, gain weight, and return to dieting. This creates a yo-yo effect where they keep losing and gaining weight.
Studies show that yo-yo dieting increases the risk of heart disease among women. Whenever people gain weight, they get a compulsion to lose the extra inches they gained from pregnancy, an office job, transitioning to working from home or even having a less active schedule. Even weight gain from affording a better diet can be stigmatised.
Diet culture is constantly perpetuated by TV, music and every body-focused media. In one era, being extremely skinny was what was considered the epitome of looking good. More recently, the flat stomach with wide hips was en vogue. Lately, pop culture has been returning to the heroin chic era, leading to increased risks of disordered eating.
Diet alone can’t lead to a healthy transformation. Studies show that long-term habit changes were more likely to be successful than a drastic diet in keeping the weight off.
Read also: Health And Lifestyle: 7 Tips On How To Change To A Healthier Diet
How to stop a cycle of dieting
1. Practice mindful eating
A lot of what leads to weight gain is from compulsive eating. Eating an extra piece of cake after lunch isn’t overeating. Finishing the cake and running it down with sodas and other sugary drinks is binge eating. It can lead to feelings of euphoria and then shame. Eventually, it increases the risk of high bad cholesterol, heart disease and other cardiovascular complications.
After hitting rock bottom, dieting seems like an easy solution, but how do you remain healthy after the weight sheds off? The relationship with food needs to change. Better eating habits are easier said than done but replacing empty-calorie snacks with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, nuts and veggies goes a long way toward helping you maintain your health.
Another form of eating you can consider is intuitive eating. This refers to eating only when you’re hungry and until you’re satisfied. It helps you eat without relying on food to deal with emotions.
2. Check if your motives are healthy
Do you want to go on a diet for health reasons or for superficial motives? Are you playing into the harmful messages of diet culture that malign normal things like arm fat, stretch marks or cellulite? Or are you losing weight because you need to improve your physical and mental health? Loving your body means giving it what it needs and not getting caught up in what sizes are acceptable.
3. Find like-minded people
Avoid social media accounts that advocate for diet culture and toxic weight loss practices like laxative drinks. Finding people who want to focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle and maintaining good habits is more likely to help you break out of the diet cycle. Journaling your feelings and how you’ve been managing your nutrition will help you keep track of your progress. You can then share this with your peers and support each other as needed.
4. Accept your body
One of the ways to make peace with your body is to use affirmations. Using mirrors to your advantage can help you change your attitude towards your body. Instead of trying to punish it, embrace it. It’s not flawed, it just is.
Exercising improves physical and mental health. If you have a busy lifestyle, schedule some easy exercises that you can perform at your desk or at home. Make time for low-impact exercises like walks or cycling to keep your joints and muscles healthy.
The Benefits Of Using Affirmations
5. Don’t moralise food
Enjoy what you eat. Constantly discussing how eating a piece of cake will need you to make up for it makes it a “bad” piece of food. This creates an unhealthy relationship with food and can also lead to disordered eating.
Ultimately, you will stop creating a diet cycle. When you have a healthy relationship with food and your body, you won’t need to go on a diet because you’re always healthy without worrying about it.
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