Yo-yo dieting is a catchy term. It means to lose weight, only to put it back on again. You end up repeating the cycle over and over. Once caught in the cycle it can be hard to stop yo-yo dieting as it is called.
This can be frustrating. You can end up obsessing over diets, the scales and calories and it gets all consuming. Yo-yo dieting is where you typically fall into a cycle where you restrict your food, making you miserable, so miserable that you feel you are missing out. You fall off the wagon and want to eat everything in sight. You binge out and eat what you want and of course you put on weight. Hence the cycle repeats itself.
You want to lose weight, which can be a good thing because you get healthier and generally feel better. In an ideal world, you develop positive eating habits, a positive relationship with food and yourself and find a healthy lifestyle that you enjoy. You free yourself of all the weighing and counting, enjoy eating healthy foods and still lose weight. Does this all sound too good to be true? This is totally achievable. I have helped many people to free themselves to stop yo-yo dieting cycle and here are some tips on how you can too.
To stop yo-yo dieting, you have to stop dieting
This may sound counter-intuitive. You want to lose weight, so how am I going to lose the weight unless I go on a diet? Well the going on a diet is the thing that is keeping you stuck in the yo-yo dieting mentality. It’s the equivalent of filling in the cracks in our walls without studying the foundations. Filling in the cracks is fine on a temporary basis but if the foundations are faulty the house will eventually crumble further. We have to first notice the cracks, follow them to see where they start and work on fixing the foundations so the cracks do not go deeper.
To notice the cracks you have to start paying attention to how you eat, what you want to eat and your eating patterns. Going on a diet covers up your natural patterns and you are not given the opportunity to learn from them. Many people find taking a food diary helpful. Noting down what and when you eat and the feelings that go with it. When we can step back away from ourselves and look at the patterns we have, we can start to view it objectively and then look at what we want to work on and why.
Develop a curious mind
To help yourself break your patterns, you can learn to develop a level of curiosity with your behaviours and attitude towards eating. When you are curious, you remove the intensity of your emotions. You can observe and be objective about your emotions. It enables you to understand yourself better. By being more empathetic and compassionate you develop a relationship with yourself. This in turn stops you from being judgemental and condemning. When you become more loving towards yourself, you notice parts of you that you like. You start liking your personality more and see the good in you. When you like and think better of yourself you naturally want to treat yourself better which means you are more likely to want to eat and enjoy healthier food naturally.
There is a tendency with yo-yo dieting to swop everything out all at once. I have seen people cut all any type of food that is deemed ‘bad’; beige food, sugar, salt, high fat, high carbs. The result is, this lasts for a short while before you end up feeling deprived and restricted. Naturally you want to break this pattern when you are hungry, or go to a social event. In rushes the feeling of guilt and often self-reprimanding. Which in turn leads to you feeling worse, which often drives you to go -oh to hell with it and eat what you want. A downward cycle. Instead change just one thing at a time. Make a list of all the habits you want to change and start small, get used to the change and then move onto the next thing. When you tackle small things at a time, the change becomes sustainable.
Your weight loss journey will be full of trials and tribulations, ups and downs. It will not be a linear route. You will be pulled off track many times. When you have your downs it can be hard to get back up again without someone in your corner encouraging you on. Imagine a child wibbling and wobbling learning to walk. They have a support system, an adult who knows what they are doing physically supporting them whilst they learn and if they fall, the adult encourages them to get back up and keep going. How would that child get on if they had no one to teach or support them? This is where a therapist and support groups really help. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and are on the same path so they understand what you are going through. If you want to stop yo-yo dieting a therapist is a great support system. Someone who listens, encourages, and helps you to see your emotional blocks and clear them so you keep going on your journey.