Cut the String of Yo-yo Dieting
You’ve been starving yourself for years. You’ve tried every diet book in the library. You’ve lost the same 10 pounds at least a dozen times. They always come back.
Dieters face a vicious cycle of losing weight and putting it back on, again and again. The cycle is called the “yo-yo effect.” It happens to almost everyone who tries to lose weight quickly by relying on an unnaturally low-calorie diet, sometimes using special menus or food supplements. Yo-yo dieting is frustrating — up to 95 percent of dieters gain back their lost weight, plus a few pounds, within three years. In addition, yo-yo dieting does a lot of harm to both the body and the mind.
Studies suggest yo-yo dieters face an increased risk of heart disease, possibly because of short-term rises in cholesterol levels. Dieting also seems to slow the body’s metabolism to help you survive on fewer calories — and metabolism remains low when you stop dieting. As a result, the more diets a person goes on in a lifetime, the more resistant to diets the body becomes.
She believes the only way to break the cycle is to admit diets don’t work. Instead of looking for the latest miracle diet, you need to see weight control as a process that involves real changes. You need to make a commitment to a healthy life — to eating right and exercising regularly.
Yo-yo diets force you to eat by the rules — this is what you can eat; this is when you can eat it. To break the cycle, throw away those rules and reconnect with your body in these ways:
- Don’t go for more than five waking hours without food.
- Take pleasure in eating; look forward to meals. Sit and savor your food instead of feeling guilty about it.
- Stop eating when you’re full. You don’t have to clean your plate.
- Forget about perfection. You won’t ruin your diet by eating an occasional piece of pie.
- Take the long view. Realize that your food intake and weight will go up and down from day to day.
Controlling your weight shouldn’t mean starving or giving up the foods you love. Mostly, it just means finding smarter ways to eat. For example:
- Learn how to cook without fat. Bake, grill or microwave instead of frying. Sauté using nonstick spray instead of oil.
- Experiment with new tastes. Season salads with herbs, lemon juice or other natural flavors instead of dressings. Sprinkle spices on vegetables instead of spreading butter.
- Make healthy recipe substitutions. In cakes, applesauce is a delicious stand-in for oil.
- Enjoy more fruits, vegetables and grains. They’re nutritious and help keep you feeling full.
- Avoid alcohol. It makes your body retain fat.
- Make small changes. Eliminating a tablespoon of butter or oil a day adds up to a reduction of more than 10 pounds of fat a year.