Diets v limits

Image:  A Giant Radish,  anonymous, 1626, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

Image: A Giant Radish, anonymous, 1626, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

Let's talk about the difference between diets and limits. 

My definition of dieting = strict adherence to rules that support one goal: Maintaining a calorie deficit for the purpose of weight loss

Never mind that dieting doesn't actually create permanent weight loss. The science is VERY CLEAR on this point. Dieting creates weight loss in 2% of dieters. The other 98% gain the weight backand then some. 

Them's not great odds.

Virtually every diet out there is someone else's idea of what you should eat to reach some smaller weight. Usually they're calorie-limited, and set up so that you are eating not the number of calories you'd need to maintain your ultimate desired weight, but a weight even lower than THAT. 

For example, if you weigh 190 lbs and you want to weigh 150, a diet will typically recommend you cap the number of calories at an amount that would sustain a 130 lb woman. You just up your calories when you get to your goal weight, as if one simply proceeds in an orderly, stepwise fashion through their weight-loss journey to their "maintenance" state. (Oh, how easy life would be!) 

This is a recipe for disaster, though, and as you will know, not that many people stick with any particular diet after the first meltdown. Usually, they take an extended time out, busying themselves with maple-bacon donuts and self-blame, while giving researchers more data about post-diet weight gain.

If diets don't work, what is the answer? Is it "just listen to your body?"

Please don't do that just yet. 

I know that's kind of the wrong thing to say. I know the Good Person does listen to their one and only precious body, their soft animal body; they just "eat the way Love would want them to eat," they "tune in" to their body and, and, and all the other slogans and Insta-memes that have been soaked in essential oils before being offered to us all day on a rose-gold background.

But have you noticed that we live in a very noisy environment, and that makes it hard to "tune in" to our bodies? A lot of the time what we're hearing is our habitual thinking, which the global food industry is very invested in controlling - by which I mean it spends literally billions. For its own purpose, which is profit.

So in this world of high-energy, highly palatable, low-nutrition, low-cost food (or "food" if you prefer), I think it's about 1000x easier AND FASTER to set livable limits than to try and "tune into your body" - especially if it's trying to regain equilibrium after a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

That's the first and perhaps most important thing we do together in Become a Normal Eater by Bedtimewe create guidelines and we set limits so we can move forward quickly while getting enough to eat, so we have access to our best moods and best thinking, with a balance of freedom and structure and the relief that comes from not having an endless debate about what "our body" wants.

Max Daniels