Have you ever gone on a diet and gained weight?
According to a new UK survey, nearly a third of women have seen a spike on the scale after going on a diet, gaining an average of nearly four pounds.
It may sound counterintuitive, but I've seen it happen.
In my private practice, many women have contacted me after a diet backfired, and made their too-snug jeans even tighter.
Has it happened to you? Here are five of the top reasons a diet can actually expand your waistline:
A diet can throw your body out of balance
The UK survey found that one in three women starts dieting between the ages of 15 and 20. Most then routinely diet about three times a year, but over 10 percent diet five times a year. Trouble is, many schemes are too strict, which can bring metabolism to a screeching halt, and others are approaches that result in an imbalance. For example, cutting fat too low can lead to a surplus of carbs your body can't burn, which then get socked away in your fat cells. And diets that permit eating unlimited amounts of "allowed" foods essentially sanction overeating, and unfortunately, any time you eat more than your body needs, even healthy stuff, the excess feeds body fat.
Diets don't allow for wiggle room
The number one thing that makes dieting unsustainable is the "on" or "off" mentality. When people go "on" a diet, then slip up, they feel like they totally blew it, which shifts them into "off" mode, and right back into unhealthy habits. In so many other areas of life, we accept a lack of total perfection, and even use detours as learning opportunities. That should be the case with weight loss. If you overate, ask yourself why? Did you turn to food as a reward, comfort, or way to quell anxiety? If so, actively work on finding other ways to meet those needs. Or if you binged because you were starving, the diet is failing you, not the other way around. The reality is losing weight and keeping it off requires consistency, so your approach should feel like something you can stick with. And if emotional eating keeps getting in the way, address it. In my experience with clients, doing so is often the true key to lasting weight loss.
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