Diets are like amusement parks

No matter what the theme, the rides are all the same.
You go up and down.

Do you ever get the feeling that authors of diet books have never struggled with a weight problem?

Maybe that’s why diets fail.

Here’s the thing, diets do work. Most people lose weight on a diet. And most people regain their weight once the dieting has stopped. Our weight and our mood go up and down just like the rides at the amusement park.

Three steps for losing weight and maintaining weight:

Define your food lane.
We have two lanes, a weight loss lane and a maintenance lane. Remember the diet that worked before? Try that one. If you are not sure, then consult with several sources. Chris Kessler’s The Paleo Cure, is an excellent resource or Asking your doctor before starting any weight loss program is advisable. Much of the research today suggests adhering to a lower carbohydrate diet works for most people, especially if you have diabetes, hypothyroidism, or heart disease. Your optimal carbohydrate and protein intake will depend on several factors such as age, gender, health, and activity level.

Focus on the foods in your lane.
Once you define your food lane, focus on staying inside the lines. If you continue to look at foods you “can’t have,” then you will miss the foods you can. You will likely feel frustrated and deprived. When eating out, scan the menu for foods that are in your lane and make substitutions. For example, if an entrée comes with potatoes, substitute another vegetable for them. When we focus on what is on our list of foods, we are more likely to choose those foods. Trigger foods become less tempting.

Understand your cravings.
Mistaking a craving for hunger is easy. Cravings are often a result of three factors: food sensitivity, unhealthy gut, and reward pathway sensitivity. Remind yourself, just because you crave it does not mean you need to eat it. Often the foods we want most are ones we have developed a sensitivity to. If our gut is unhealthy due to medications and poor diets, we will crave sugary carbohydrates to feed bad bacteria. Try cutting these foods out of your diet and see if the cravings go away. Let’s face it, salt, sugar, and fat light up the reward center in the brain. When we eat those foods, we feel great. Negative emotions and stressful lifestyles often lead us to crave pleasure.

Use S.W.A.T. to find your lane.
S.W.A.T. that thought!

Stop What you are doing.

Ask questions: What is my food lane? What foods can I substitute that are healthier for me? Why am I craving this food? Is it a sensitivity? Is it an unhealthy gut? Am I feeling overwhelmed with emotion and need an escape?

Take action: Answering the questions helps you to take action. You may decide to eat that chocolate cake. If so, that’s okay. Uncovering the hidden motivators behind your choices takes time and practice. The important part is defining your food lane and practicing staying in your lane.

I’d love to hear your comments, questions, and stories.

Susan Macey, PhD

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2 thoughts on “Diets are like amusement parks”

  1. Pingback: Triggers – Keeping Weight Off Forever

  2. Pingback: Self-discovery is like hiking. – Keeping Weight Off Forever

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