Contrary to common thought, the first step in the cycle of binge eating isn't bingeing...it's dieting.
When you begin to restrict yourself from eating certain foods, or eating certain amounts of food, you trigger your body's biological response, which is to protect you from starvation by...eating as much food as humanly possible.
No matter how disciplined you are, whether you call it a "cheat day" or a binge episode, or how often (or not) it may occur, dieting (aka restriction) leads to bingeing, according to science.
Consider this before you go on a "New Year, New You" Diet...
Not only does dieting biologically trigger binge episodes, it actually can lead to a decline in your health. If you’re dieting repeatedly and frequently, your metabolism is likely slowing down due to changes in your body’s “set point.”
“Set point (the amount of energy you need in a 24-hour period) actually goes down when you restrict eating or your weight goes down quickly. But then you start to eat normally again, your set point doesn’t necessarily always return to the same place that it was prior to the diet, so over a lifetime your set point tends to go down with repeated diet and weight loss attempts,” says Dr. Jenny Conviser.
Simply put: dieting slows down your metabolism, and repeated dieting slows it down a lot more.
You might not be any happier 10 pounds from now.
Before you start a new diet, ask yourself why you want to lose the weight.
"We often look at our happiness through a solution that is external to us instead of looking at finding happiness, joy, and fulfillment from inside. In the same way we relate to diet, we think that controlling our external environment a.k.a. our food will lead us to happiness instead of looking from the inside," says Isabel Foxen Duke.
Are you truly motivated to lose weight to "get healthy?" Because we've established that dieting does not necessarily make you healthier.
Perhaps, then, what you're really seeking is happiness, joy, and fulfillment through controlling your food and exercise. If this is the case, maybe shift your focus from weight loss to cultivating more true happiness, joy, and fulfillment instead.
If you do this, you might find that weight loss or improved health are a natural byproduct. Or you might not. But you're not going to be any happier just because you lose weight, either.
By actively cultivating happiness, joy, and fulfillment, you'll get what you're really seeking with possible bonuses. But if you let weight loss be the focus of your 2018, you're probably going to find yourself making the same resolution again next year, without any improvement in how you feel about your life and your body.
The choice is yours! To hear more of my conversation with Dr. Jenny Conviser, check out the latest episode of the Healthy at Any Size podcast. And subscribe so you'll be sure to catch my interview of Isabel Foxen Duke, coming out in a future episode!