Last week I was invited to be on the expert panel for the press launch of a report about ‘Why Diets Fail’ sponsored by XLS Medical.
Having read the report there were some really interesting facts about diets:
72% of us have tried a diet this year and a third have tried two or more
Of those almost half feel it’s failed in the first month
34% of dieters claim to have failed every diet they’ve tried, as they’ve put weight back on
Less than a quarter of dieters actually achieve their weight loss goals
At the launch, along with a fitness expert, a dietician and a food blogger we debated with a room of journalists what is needed for people to achieve a healthy diet resulting in weight loss? Rather than to go on a fad diet such as the ‘Kale and Chewing gum’ diet (yes it really exists!)
The number one reason for a diet failing, given by 41% of the OnePoll survey in this report, was a lack of motivation, followed by boredom, stress and time restraints.
So what causes this lack of motivation?
A lack of realistic goals. Expecting a rapid weight loss initially and for it to continue. It’s much better to aim for a 1/2lb loss each week as research has shown it can be more easily sustained
A lack of support and accountability. Having a group of friends or a professional to support you and keep you online with your goals, will maintain your motivation when your willpower weakens
Unrealistic goals. A goal of losing just 5 to 10% of your weight is realistic and will make a big difference to your health
Not enjoying your food. In our hectic lifestyles we may believe we should be reading emails, texting friends or catching up on tv when we’re eating. This means we don’t savour or taste our food or recognise the triggers of feeling full. Instead get rid of distractions and really enjoy your food, Mindfulness practice can also help you stay present.
Setting rigid rules. A more flexible approach to eating including allowing yourself small amounts of all the foods you crave, is much more likely to keep you motivated than a very restrictive diet
As well as all these positive actions to keep motivated the key element I believe, is to understand what your hunger is really for and why you want to eat.
Quite often we eat to get rid of, or numb bad feelings rather than actually being physically hungry. We need to understand and recognise our emotional eating patterns to be able to change them.
In our childhood when we feel sad or hurt or bored, we’re often given a hug or a treat to make us feel better. As if feeling uncomfortable is a bad thing which we need to get rid of. So it’s not surprising that we then learn to eat to comfort or reward ourselves.
How many times have you reached for a chocolate bar or glass of wine when you felt bored or stressed?
By understanding whether the hunger is emotional or physical you can start to make better choices as well as accept yourself just as you are.