Trying to break the diet cycle, but desperately struggling? I feel you! Breaking the cycle of yo yo dieting is super difficult, especially if you have been trying to lose weight for years with no success.
Luckily, there are many people who have learned to give up yo yo dieting and start eating without rules and restrictions. If you would like to be one of these people, you are in the right place. The steps laid out in the article are a great starting place to learn how to give up dieting for good.
Why can’t you stop yo yo dieting?
First, let’s discuss why you can’t stop yo yo dieting. This will give us a better understanding of how to stop.
So, to jump right in, most diets are designed to fail. Even though you may have great results the first few weeks or months, weight regain is almost guaranteed. In fact, according to research, 80–97% of people will regain weight lost dieting.
And that’s what creates the yo yo dieting cycle! You lose weight, gain it back, and continue the diet cycle to lose the weight again. It’s a vicious cycle that is not only frustrating, but detrimental to your self esteem and overall well being.
Step 1: Reevaluate what you are trying to achieve by dieting
The first step is to reevaluate what you are trying to get out of dieting. Often, people have been dieting for so long that they forget why they even started in the first place.
But typically, the reasoning falls into one of two categories (or both): health or appearance.
If you fall under the health category, it’s completely understandable why you want to lose weight. But it’s also important to consider that there are so many ways to improve your health that are unrelated to weight. And often these methods are easier, more effective and have longer lasting results.
If you fall under the appearance category, it’s important to remember that a strong, positive body image comes from the inside, not the outside. If your body is to be more confident and feel more beautiful, you can take steps to achieve this right now, no matter what your body looks like.
Step 2: Consider different ways to achieve your goals
If your goals are health related, talk to your doctor or other health practitioner about alternative ways to improve the health conditions you have.
For those seeking to improve their general health, here are a few things you can do that are unrelated to your weight:
- Exercise more frequently or more intensely
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Swap more refined grains for whole grain options
- Stop smoking tobacco products
- Choose lean meats over fatty meats
If your goals are appearance related, it may be beneficial to take time to work on your body image and self esteem. In reality, this is the fastest way to feel more confident in the body your are in.
To download thirty days of journal prompts to improve your body image click here: Journal Prompts for Better Body Image
Step 3: Shift the focus from restricting to adding
Most diets focus on eliminating or restricting certain foods or overall calories to lose weight. While this might work well short term, you will likely feel deprived long term, leading to weight regain and the continuance of the diet cycle. Instead, focus on adding more to your diet! Specifically adding more fiber rich, low calorie foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
A good rule of thumb is making half of your plate fruits and/or vegetables and the other half protein and grains. Bonus points for a side of low fat dairy like low fat milk, yogurt or cheese. By including lots of low calorie, fibrous foods in your diet, you will stay fuller for longer, plus you will get in a ton of beneficial nutrients that will prevent deficiencies and make you feel better overall.
Step 4: Create a game plan for when the desire to diet reemerges
It’s inevitable that every once in a while you will get the desire to diet cycle again. Perhaps you stumbled upon an influencer with the “perfect” body on Instagram or received a negative comment from a relative. Whatever it may be, it’s important to have a game plan for when dieting creeps back into your life.
This may look different for everyone, but first and foremost, you need to remind yourself why you quit dieting in the first place.
I encourage you to write down all the reasons you dieting did not work out for you, along with all the reasons a life without dieting is more enjoyable. Keep this list around for when you are feeling like going back to your old ways.
Below there are a few ideas to get you started.
Reasons why dieting sucks:
- More irritable and emotional
- Missing out on moments with family and friends
- Missing out on delicious meals
- Constantly thinking about food
- Frequent, uncontrollable binge eating
Reasons why a life without dieting rules:
- Less stress around food
- More enjoyable time with friends and family
- No obsessive planning
- No stress if planned meals don’t work out
- More time to focus on more important things
Step 5: Get advice from Registered Dietitians on social media vs. wellness influencers
Finally, be sure you are getting your advice from the right people. Registered dietitian’s are not only the experts on nutrition, but they are well informed when it comes to disordered eating and eating disorder risks.
On the other hand, while they may have good intentions, wellness influencers often base recommendations off personal experience, which won’t necessarily translate to you personally.
Along with this, how common is it for wellness influencers to come out with an eating disorder several years after gaining a large following? They are only showing you the best parts of their life, you don’t know what is happening behind closed doors.
If you are looking for good accounts to follow, here are a few recommendations.
- tasteitwithtia (shameless self promotion)