Friday, August 21, 2009

Diet Foods Suck

OK...I'm being blunt, but really most diet foods suck.


Because people think that if they eat/drink them they will lose weight.

Guess what! They don't work!

Some are benign, some are harmful...some are pure junk, some are not bad...but few, if any, actually help you lose weight in the long run.

They Don't Address the Real Issue

Diet foods typically will either contain fewer calories or less sugar or less fat...and "less" may not be much the labels, sometimes "less calories" is achieved by decreasing the portion size!

For most people who struggle with their weight the few calories saved by eating diet foods is not the answer. The real issue is our attitude about ourselves, our bodies, being fat...the real issue is in our minds.

Diet Foods Reinforce Unhealthy Eating Behaviors

One of the issues I have faced in my life is using food for emotional reasons rather than for feeding my body. I have stuffed down emotions rather than face them. Food as soother. Food as drug. I know I am not alone in this. I've heard other people also refer to food as their "drug of choice"...even Oprah says this.

One of the biggest changes we can make that will affect our weight is to develop other behaviors to deal with our emotions. Things other than eating. One of the challenges is to develop a HEALTHY response, not to just replace one unhealthy response with another one.

In other words, I don't want to start smoking when I am stressed rather than eating. OK, obvious example in order to make a point. Some other unhealthy habits to avoid...excessive shopping, over-exercising, excessive sex...any "addiction" that you substitute for eating is just that--a substitute. You may become slender by substituting a different addiction...or you may just end up having 2 addictions instead of one. A more permanent solution is to deal with WHY you are eating in the first place.

They Don't Allow Us To Change Our Habits

If we are used to grabbing food because we are bored, lonely, unhappy, stressed (the list goes on...and on) changing the food we grab from cookies to carrots may seem like a good choice. While I would say it is a better choice to choose carrots over the diet cookies on the market, it is still enabling us to maintain the unconscious eating habit...which when the emotions are really strong, or we get tired of munching on carrots, will come back to bite us in the fat behind!

Sometimes our eating is just habit. We're not even thinking about it. It isn't that we are particularly stressed out or unhappy...we just used to having the pretzels or candy or cookies or fruit or whatever it is...and if it is there we eat it.

So we save a few calories now, but don't change our habits. That means when/if we drop the weight we want, we probably will revert to eating foods we prefer...and BAM the weight flies back on!

They Don't Change Our Tastes

Diet foods don't taste the same as the "real" deal, but they generally still taste sweet or like chips or whatever food it is you crave. By indulging in these we never allow our tastes to change. We will continue to think cookies or chips are the best snack. Again, once the "diet" is over we will tend to revert to full calorie versions...and we gain weight back.

They Actually Get Us Wanting MORE Sweets

There is scientific evidence that artificial sweeteners actually increase our desire for more sweets. It is both psychological and physical response. You may feel more hunger and have increased cravings. Hmmm...not a good deal in my book!

We End Up Eating More

This is psychological, but it has been documented...when we see that something has 1/2 the fat or only 100 calories for example, we will tend to eat a larger quantity of the food. Often we will eat significantly more and actually end up consuming more fat and calories than if we had just eaten the original food in the first place.

For me one of the big issues was learning portion control--learning to feel satisfied BEFORE I felt stuffed! Diet foods don't help with that issue.

Ice Cream is my biggest treat. I love it. I also find that when I buy the 1/2 fat variety I want to eat much, much more. It just isn't as satisfying. It's not that it tastes actually tastes pretty good--at least some do. But it isn't the same. It doesn't have the same richness, the mouth feel...I am not as satisfied with the "diet" version.

I am better off with the full-flavored fully loaded calorie original. I can have a smaller portion and feel like I'm getting a real treat. Then I am encouraged to really savor all the flavors, the full experience. I don't feel like I'm being deprived or short-changed...

Bottom Line--Eat Real Food

Some "diet" foods are more chemical than food. I believe our health is best served by eating as "real" as we can...real food with real ingredients. If I can't pronounce it, I try not to eat it! The scientists may claim our bodies can't tell the difference (or maybe it is just the advertisers' claiming that!) but my experience says otherwise.

Choose real food for real health.
Develop new habits to replace emotional eating.
Get to know WHY you want to eat...and why you want to lose weight.

I know that it is possible...and that there is no "magic bullet", no elixir that melts pounds away, no temporary system that gives permanent results. The permanent fix is between your ears...and it isn't your mouth!

Our minds are so incredible and that is where the real solution resides.

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