Why Diets Don’t Work…But Our Program Does!
Diets don’t address the root cause of being overweight- Diets don’t work because they focus on the symptom of being overweight in a very simplistic way: they restrict calories, which results in weight loss. But once you’re off the diet, the weight comes right back. Diets don’t address why we eat more calories than we need to. The answer to this question is complex and multifactorial. But when we make sense of what is happening, it is possible to make fundamental changes in how we live that enable us to lose weight and then keep it off.
We are wired to eat- Until recent times food was in short supply. Our ancestors survived by over-eating when food was available and burning fewer calories when food was scarce. We have inherited those characteristics and each of us is genetically wired to eat and conserve calories. However, our world has changed; there is food everywhere. No wonder we tend to be fat: 70% of Americans are overweight and one-third are obese.
Our food is engineered to make us crave- The food industry knows we are wired to eat so they employ food engineers who design processed foods to maximize our pleasure in the moment. They identify and exploit our ‘bliss’ point so a bite of food tastes delicious but then loses flavor rapidly. When consuming these foods we want to eat more and more to preserve our bliss. In order to achieve sustained weight loss we need to learn what components of food create cravings, how to avoid them, and how to choose alternatives that not only taste good in the moment but also satisfy us for hours.
Certain foods mediate the production of hormones that cause cravings AND block our ability to burn fat- Foods containing high glycemic carbohydrates, such as processed or instant meals, white rice, potatoes, pasta and bread made from processed flour, cookies, candy, soda and juices, cause cyclical eating. When we digest these foods our blood sugar rises rapidly, which increases our insulin levels. This triggers food cravings, which cause us to eat again. When we become caught in this pattern we gain weight. And when our body fat increases, our insulin levels rise further, causing us to want to eat even more. Additionally, the insulin itself prevents us from burning body fat. This self-perpetuating cycle of gaining weight and eating more is a true addiction, which is extremely difficult to reverse, particularly if one doesn’t have a full understanding of it.
Emotions trigger eating and falling off the wagon- No discussion on why diets don’t work is complete without mentioning the impact emotions, including stress, boredom and anger, have on our eating habits. Such emotions can tempt us to deviate from our nutritional plans because we want to feel good in the moment. Again, these deviations set up a pattern of cyclical eating and progressive weight gain. Furthermore, stress increases insulin resistance that further stimulates cravings and the tendency to deviate from plans.
Solution- Once we understand the true cause of why we are overweight and what keeps us that way, we can then implement a sustainable solution. This knowledge gives us the power to lose weight, keep it off, and look and feel better. For those of us with health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, making the right changes to our eating habits can even allow us to stop using medications. We can regain control of our health, and rather than living to eat, we can eat to live well! ‘You’ve Got To Live It!’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Barry Schiff, M.D., FACC is a cardiologist and the Medical Director of CardioMender, MD Weight Loss Specialists located in Pembroke Pines, serving Miramar, Weston, Davie, Cooper City and the entire South Florida community. Dr. Schiff has served as Chief of Medicine and Chief of Staff of Memorial Hospital Pembroke and has been practicing clinical cardiology in our community for over 27 years.
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