How to stop yo-yo dieting and find your healthy balance

Have you ever lost weight on a diet, only to end up spiraling out of control & gaining it all back…plus some?

If the answer is “yes” – then I’m guessing you feel pretty frustrated, ashamed, and generally angry with yourself. Deep down, you might even feel like you’ve failed at your health….especially if this cycle has repeated itself multiple times.

See, I know this because I’ve been there too. I’ve also worked with hundreds of women who have been through the exact same thing.

¬†So here’s what I want you to know, right off the bat: you did not fail at your health. Dieting has failed you – miserably. And this is the sad truth for billions of women.

Truth is, dieting simply does not work long-term, for several reasons:

  • It seriously damages your metabolism. This is why it becomes harder and harder to lose weight and keep it off with each subsequent diet.
  • It alters your neurobiology – leading to more cravings, food obsessions, and feelings of powerlessness around food (AKA the food scarcity mindset).
  • It messes up your relationship with food, and your ability to trust your own body. It’s no surprise that women who struggle with overeating, binge or emotional eating almost always have a history of restrictive dieting.

Now, I don’t want you to feel bad about your dieting history, or to focus on the damage that it might have done. Instead, start asking yourself: “how can I end the food and body struggles for good?”

And I’m about to give you four powerful steps that you can take ASAP, so that you be FREE from weight cycling and yo-yo dieting, and so that you can start making lasting progress with your health goals.

P.S. these steps form an important part of the Empowered Eating Academy. If you are interested in learning more, you can book a complimentary Game Plan call with me here.

The four essential steps you need to take to break the diet-binge cycle:

STEP 1: Get rid of the food scarcity mindset that drives overeating.

A history of limited access to food, whether due to actual food scarcity (e.g. famine) or voluntary restriction (e.g. dieting), is the number one driving force behind the urge to binge. This is because your body is incredibly intelligent – by overeating, you are only trying to “stock up” before the next famine / diet starts.

The food scarcity mindset is characterized by obsessive food thoughts; cravings; emotional eating; overeating & binge eating. These behaviors are driven by complex biological and psychological mechanisms that are intended to protect you from starvation. As such, no amount of willpower can withstand the urge to overeat when you have a food scarcity mindset.

The only way to get rid of this mindset, is to consistently and intentionally nourish your body with regular, balanced & satisfying meals. By doing this, you are rebuilding trust with your body – one meal at a time. You are essentially proving to your body that food will be available whenever you need it, so there is no need to overeat.

STEP 2: Relearn healthy self-regulation with food.

Have you ever noticed how babies cry when they are hungry, and stop feeding when they are full? Or how kids tend to eat more on some days, and less on other days? Maybe you even have a friend or family member who has the ability to leave delicious food on their plate, simply because they are satisfied?

This is called self-regulation, and it’s a skill that we have all been born with. The trouble is, we lose touch with this skill as we let diets / food rules dictate our intake. We become so disconnected from our body’s cues, that we forget what hunger & fullness feel like. We ignore our hunger, then eat way past comfortable fullness; or we eat for reasons completely unrelated to hunger on a daily basis.

The good news is that you can relearn this powerful skill. You don’t need a calorie counter or food scale to tell you how much to eat; you just need to learn to listen to your own body again.

Start by bringing conscious awareness to your hunger / fullness levels before meals, half-way through and after. Start noticing what comfortable hunger / fullness feels like for you. Once you feel more confident about your ability to identify your cues, you can start to make a few gentle changes. For example, you might decide to add an extra mid-afternoon snack of you notice that you are ravenous by the time dinner rolls by.

STEP 3: Reflect and learn from negative food experiences.

One of the reasons why it can be so tricky to stop overeating / bingeing, is because there are typically multiple factors that feed the fire. These include emotions & stress, sleep, self-care habits, and body image – to name a few. Identifying your unique triggers is crucial, as it will allow you to address the problem holistically and to find a permanent solution.

Start by reflecting after you’ve had a negative food experience, such as a binge. Think back a few hours, and try to identify the chain of events that led up to the binge.

For example:

I slept badly –> I skipped breakfast; my boss shouted at me at work –> I felt disappointed in myself –> I didn’t take time to enjoy my lunch –> I got home feeling deflated –> I saw cookies on the counter –> I binged.

After doing this a few times, you will have a better idea of what your roadblocks are. We can then address these one by one.

STEP 4: Rebuild healthy eating and exercising habits that are flexible and that do not consume your life.

This step has got to come last, because it’s virtually impossible to build permanent healthy habits when you have an unhealthy relationship with food. But on the flip side, lifestyle change becomes SO MUCH EASIER when you are free from obsessive food thoughts, cravings, and the urge to eat everything in sight.

When my clients reach this stage, we start the exciting process of building permanent healthy habits that support their goals. Here’s what I recommend:

Visualize what habits your healthiest version of self might have, and then create a step-wise action plan to tackle these habits one at a time. Focus on what you want to eat more of, rather than on what you want to cut down on. This way, you are avoiding that food scarcity mindset that triggers overeating.

The beauty of this approach, is that it requires minimal willpower. Plus when you treat habit building like a game with different levels of difficulty, it can be super fun and totally achievable.

Need some help implementing these steps?

If you are tired of struggling on your own, and you want to speed up your healing journey – then I would highly recommend that you consider getting professional support.

I would love to invite you to jump on a complimentary Game Plan call with me, so that I can help you to come up with a real solution that will work for you. 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Marna Oettle, RD & Food Freedom Expert

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