I hate the term diet. I feel like it has such a negative connotation; no wonder people on diets have such a low rate of success. Take a moment and ask yourself this: what is the first feeling or thought you have when you hear the word diet? For me personally, I feel anxious and I start to fixate on whatever it is that I am restricting myself from enjoying.
Why do people diet? Well the answer is obvious. People diet to lose weight. In my opinion, the reason diets don't work is because we approach the entire situation as a punishment. When you take something away, or tell yourself that you aren't allowed to have something you enjoy, all you are going to do is fixate on that very thing. Over time you may learn to live without it, but given the opportunity to add it back into your life, you are likely gravitate towards it.
The problem seems to be that too many people set immediate goals to lose weight within a short time period instead of setting long term weight loss goals for overall health.
Focusing on what we cannot have creates a stress response in the body. When our body is stressed it releases a stress hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol aids our bodies in storing fat and glucose (blood sugar), which back in the day of hunting and gathering was a totally wonderful survival technique. Our system is wired so that when our cortisol levels are elevated our brain tells us we need to eat to make sure we have enough stored energy (more or less). So the vicious cycle becomes: we tell ourselves we can't have something we want, we stress about not being able to have it, then our hormones literally makes us want it more.
So what's the solution? Stop trying fad diets that require you to restrict one food group or another because they were able to prove that it led to weight loss in some pre-chosen population under specified parameters and conditions. I love to say it, so I will take the opportunity right here & now to quote myself: "Science is amazing. With enough money, anyone can prove anything." This, my friends, is why there is SO much contradicting and confusing nutrition and fitness information.
Want results? Make health your goal. This includes mental health. Give yourself a mental vacation from you dieting habits and try to start eating smaller meals made of healthier foods.
The most important piece of advice I give to a client is to give yourself a friggin’ break! When you start a healthier lifestyle, you are going to run into what feels like mountain-sized roadblocks (social events, birthday parties, days you just don't have the time or energy to think about healthy food choices). That's life. You can't control everything. When, not if, you hit these roadblocks you need to tell yourself that it is ok. The journey is for the rest of your life, so if you eat a piece of pizza (or the whole thing) one day, pick yourself back up & get back on the horse.
I don't know anyone who hasn't experienced a time in their life when they have been challenged: when they have gotten knocked down and had to keep on trucking, so why can't we do the same with food? In a healthy mind, you eat the pizza, then you feel like crap for it so you decide, "Maybe I won't do that again any time soon." When was the last time you thought about an indulgence that way? Unfortunately, the scenario for most individuals is that you ate the pizza, then self-loathed about it, ate more pizza the next day.... and 5 pounds later.... you still can't figure out how to break the cycle.