When you think of dieting, you probably believe it’s a good thing. A positive change that helps you to approach your eating habits to make them healthier.
But what if that’s not the case?
What if “dieting” as we know it can actually have a negative psychological effect on our minds, which in turn leads to higher weight gain in the long run?
Pretty scary thought!
One study from February 2019  looked at weight loss dieting from a totally new angle. Instead of looking at the weight loss itself, the researchers examined the psychological factors associated with restrictive dietary patterns.
The study examined people following five different diets:
These dieters were compared to a “control group” made up of individuals not following any specific dietary pattern or food restrictions.
According to the research:
Weight loss dieters had more negative psychological characteristics than all the other groups. That’s right, those focused on the end goal of “losing weight” had the highest level of eating disorder symptoms, everything from food cravings to emotional eating to negative affect.
Paleo dieters had the lowest levels of eating disorder symptoms, while vegans and vegetarians were mostly the same as the control group.These groups were less likely to suffer from emotional eating and food cravings than the weight loss dieters.
But why is that the case? Why are those on the weight loss diet so much more affected emotionally than those on the other diets?
The answer is simple: your mindset.
Think of your weight loss as a journey—which, in all fairness, it really is, given how much time and work goes into making it happen.
A journey isn’t something you complete from one moment to the next, one day to the next, even one year to the next. It’s a long, drawn-out thing that takes a lot of effort, and you may not reach your destination for weeks, months, or years to come.
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Weight loss dieting is primarily focused on the “destination”—in this case, losing weight. When you’re laser-focused on the destination, you’ll find that it can consume you, so much so that your journey becomes far more miserable because it feels like it’s taking forever to get where you want to go. When you fail to see weight loss or the results come far slower than you’d like, the results can impact you far more.
Now, compare the weight loss diet to a vegan or vegetarian diet. These diets aren’t focused on weight loss, but they’re all about improving your life and the environment by eating healthy. These diets believe that eliminating meat and animal products will make you a healthier, happier person. It’s about living the best possible life by eating the best possible foods.
Same as the Paleo Diet! While it’s not a perfect diet by any means, the fact that the focus is on eating healthy rather than “avoiding the bad” means that you’re focused on the positive. As soon as you start focusing on the positive aspects of health, you have a better chance of success.
So let this guide you as you begin or continue on your weight loss and health journey!
If your single-minded focus is on losing weight, you’re focused on the “negative” aspects of your current health, and you may end up so consumed by the objective that you fail to enjoy the path you take to reach it. That weight loss dieting can lead you down a path of negativity, and it can have serious impacts on your health.
Don’t focus on the negative, but think about the positive. Think about how you’re making choices that will improve your health, regardless of whether or not you lose weight. When you start putting the right foods into your body, you’ll be conscious of making the “right” choices time and again. It doesn’t matter what diet you follow—all that matters is that you are actively making positive choices rather than dwelling on the negative side of life.
Take time today to sit down and create your new mission plan for a positive, healthy diet. Forget about the weight loss, but instead focus on eating what your body needs, providing fuel for your daily activity, and improving the quality of your food intake. Re-framing your mindset and approach to dieting to be positive will benefit you in the long run!
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