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Diets trigger brain to want more food

25th September 2013

HERE’S the biggest problem faced by anyone on diets: Food becomes a trigger to the behaviour dieters want to avoid – which is eating. And eating then becomes the trigger for further eating. So most dieters become trapped in a vicious circle, in which they are prisoners to food. Sadly they find it almost impossible to break out.

I’ve had a great response to the first blogs in the series I’m writing about the psychological damage brought about by diets. So many people have emailed me and posted comments about the negative effect that years of constant diets has had on them.

I thought in this blog I’d focus on how diets can actually cause you to overeat!! The very thing you really should avoid doing if you’re trying to lose weight!

One common trait in the human mind is that you can’t help thinking more about things you’re trying to give up, whether it’s smoking, drinking, or in the case of diets – high calorie foods.

You get more of what you focus on and this can obviously work in a bad way as well as a good way.

When you’re on diets you are forced to focus on your food consumption (ie count calories, syns, etc) and this means the focus of your attention naturally becomes food!

When you’re dieting, you also think and act differently towards food.

When certain things are “forbidden” or unavailable, they seem much more pleasurable and we generally want/need them more. When a commodity is scarce, whether we need it or not we are compelled to have it.

A good example is petrol! What happens when there’s talk of a fuel shortage? We all suddenly need to fill up!!

With food it’s even harder, because you do need a certain amount to survive and you’re constantly reminded of what you can’t have. You might stick to diets for a couple of weeks, work hard at them, eat less, count the calories, and then you’re out with friends and suddenly it all goes wrong!

It’s difficult to keep up the hard work at this point, everyone around you is eating what they WANT to eat and so you do too, and you can end up eating more than you would if you hadn’t been on diets and obsessing about “forbidden” food in the first place.

Diets often causes obsession and obsession triggers overeating – it’s a vicious circle; you think “Now that I’ve broken the diet, I may as well make the most of it and eat more! I can always start the diet again another day.”

Your mind starts rebelling against the diets, against the pressure of not eating – you want to have a good time, not be held back; you exist in this constant battle between control and under-eating on the one hand and rebellion and overeating on the other.

The problem is that diets can make high calorie foods mean happiness, reward or comfort. Chocolate and sweet things become treats which trigger a chain of thoughts which can lead to overeating.

Dieters will be more likely look at food in terms of guilt than those who don’t go on diets.

Diets make you obsessed with the forbidden foods and obsessed much more with body image – if you eat a fattening meal, feel guilty and a failure it affects your body image. When you
look in the mirror you then feel much more negative about what you see.

If you weren’t on diets, then these horrible negative reactions would never enter your mind – dieting causes this sort of constant depression. If you weren’t dieting, you’d eat what you wanted, not obsess over food.

Diets make food more attractive and sexy; yet you have to avoid it. It all works towards a vicious circle of dieting: avoiding turns to obsession, obsession turns to eating and overeating, overeating turns to guilt and guilt turns into avoiding foods!

So now you can see why diets become a trigger for the very thing you want to avoid – eating too much.

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