Two out of three women, and more men than ever before, have tried to lose weight in the past year. With an estimated 29 million Britons looking for ways to shed those excess pounds, it is no wonder that Britain’s diet industry is worth a staggering £2bn.
But here’s the thing: 95% of diets fail in the long term.
In this week’s blog post, we explore 7 reasons that could explain this phenomenon.
Dieting is hard because it relies on our willpower to keep us on the right track. When we have been pushed to our limits and are desperate to make a change our willpower can be very strong indeed. Few people struggle in the first few days of a diet. But, as the state of our health and weight changes, and the pressures of day-to-day life build up, it can be hard to maintain this momentum. Willpower is hard to maintain for an extended period of time, particularly when our dietary rules are inflexible and strict. There is also a danger that, as progress is made, complacency will creep in and will make us less inclined to endure the struggle of restricting our food intake. Lastly, Dieters rarely rehearse how they might manage difficult situations such as going to dinner with friends – they simply hope that their willpower will hold up and, if it doesn’t, punish themselves with feelings of guilt or shame.
2) The Addictive Power of Refined Foods
The foods we crave, and the foods on which we so often binge, fall broadly into two categories: sugary products like sweets, chocolate, ice cream, cakes, cookies and soft drinks, and flour-based or carb-loaded products like pizza, pasta, bread, crisps and chips. Foods like these release an unnatural flood of dopamine that hijacks the pleasure centres in the brain and, in the long run, lead to cravings for this small sense of euphoria. Recent scientific research confirms that processed foods like these light up the very same addiction pathways in the brain as heroin and cocaine. Always check the sugar content of your foods – it can be hidden in the most surprising places!
Most weight-loss programmes incorporate exceptions into the structure of their food plans. The thinking is that, with a sneaky snack here, or a “cheat” meal there, or a whole “cheat” day once a week, we will find the whole endeavour of losing weight a lot easier. Some programmes even sell sugary treats that you should “eat sparingly” or only count as a couple of points on that day’s meal plan. The irony is that building these exceptions into a diet does not work. For most people, treats and cheats like these are simply reminders to their taste buds (and receptors in the brain) that there are easier ways to achieve pleasure than through real, wholesome food. These exceptions prevent our brains from adopting a positive approach to a sustainable shift in diet and eating behaviour and will, eventually, keep us hooked on refined foods.
4) Diets Make you Hungry
Restricting your food intake is not always going to please your body and could actually make you gain weight in the long run. Our bodies store fat so that, if we are ever caught without a readily available supply of food, we can continue to draw on energy reserves. Eating too little will push your body into fat storage mode, as it understands this to be a state of emergency. Your level of cortisol will rise as your body does its best to hold on to what nutrients it can – nutrients that are then stored as fat. Your body is now looking for other energy sources and you could actually risk losing muscle because it burns more calories at rest while your body seeks to hold onto its fat reserves for emergency energy. Most diets starve your body of nutrients and lead to intense hunger pangs. When your willpower finally gives in and you binge on whatever is close-by, your body will create fat reserves to make sure you have enough energy to draw on should you ever try another diet.
5) Biochemical Individuality
We are all physiologically different and we all have different needs and requirements. One diet plan may have worked wonders for your neighbours or your best friend but there is no reason that you will enjoy the same success. Invariably, this leads to feelings of inadequacy and failure when you realise that you lost less weight than others on the same plan. The majority of diets simply do not account for the fact that their rules need to be adapted on a case-by-case basis.
6) Not Real Food
Many diets rely on highly processed, refined and unnatural products to supplement a strictly constrained food plan. Not only are these products unappetising and uninteresting but they have the capacity to damage your body in the long run. The challenge of building such a regime into everyday life seems insurmountable, particularly when you consider the attached price tag of these specially made foods.
7) Failure to Change Core Habits
The only people who lose weight and keep it off are those who make permanent changes to their, and their families’, eating and exercise habits. Dieters often go right back to their old habits and favourite foods upon completing a diet, thinking that once the hard work is done they can celebrate their achievement in the way they are used to. If the diet is not a sustainable one and has failed to modify your body’s desires, then the old eating habits will creep back in and, soon, you will find yourself back at square one.
So why do we keep going on diets?
Upon completing a difficult challenge, like a diet or a healthy eating plan, we enjoy an unmistakable sense of achievement and euphoria; we have done well. If we fail, however, it might encourage us to have yet another go.
The success and the profit of the diet industry is based on our desire to be in control, and to experience this again and again. Ultimately, we have to question whether the diet industry would be worth quite as much if every single diet provided a sustainable solution.
Lifestyle, not Diets
In a world full of temptations it is laudable to want to find a healthy balance that works for you. Dieting is not the way, however. For long-term weight loss, many things – not just your nutritional habits – will have to change.
We need to reconsider the way we think about food. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the hot new diet in an attempt to shed excess weight or achieve other aspects of wellness, we should be thinking about making achievable, realistic changes that we can sustain for a lifetime.
And this is where I can help. Have a look at my 6 week healthy eating programme that not only cleanses your body on cellular level and helps you to reach an optimum in your health but also teaches you how you can eat and live healthily for the rest of your life: http://www.eatwright.co.uk/work-with-leonie-wright/ This programme can change your life forever and is for those that are willing to look at getting better through food.
To better Health,
New Year’s resolutions; who doesn’t make them each New Year? A lot is written about it. Advice is given and opinions are divided. What I notice is that often the focus is on the reasons why, by the second week of the New Year, many good intentions have gone out of the window. Instead we should be given tips on how we can succeed. Here are 7 tips on how you can succeed with your good intentions for 2017.
New Year’s resolutions; why would you even take them?
Over the course of days, weeks, months and years, habits establish themselves in our daily life and they are not always the best habits. Nothing is more difficult than to change these ingrained habits permanently. Habits are for a lot of people something to hold on to, it gives them security. Traditions are ways to give people structure and direction. And how difficult is it to change that? It makes you feel insecure. You will have to get out of your comfort zone and learn to think outside the box. This will work but only if you are really serious about making changes in your life. The tips below could be of help:
- Don’t’ change everything at the same time!
The list of New Year’s resolutions can be endless and there is nothing wrong with that at all. But what can cause a problem is that people want to change too many things at the same time. You might want to start living healthier, lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, look after yourself better, have more leisure time and so on. Phhhhhh just the thought of having to adjust all this at once makes me tired already. That is why I advise you to change only 1 or 2 things at the same time.
- Set your goals.
Many people who make New Year’s resolutions say: I am going to lose weight or I am going to have a healthier lifestyle. This makes you look at the process to achieve your goal. What would be more effective is to look at the result or goal you can achieve. So don’t’ say: I am going to eat healthily but instead say: I want to feel great, I want to look gorgeous or I want to wear my lovely summer dresses again. That is far more concrete than eat healthier or I will look better after myself. You want to know what the advantages are if you are going to make those changes. Look at the end result.
- Look positively at the resolutions you are making.
Have you ever heard that our brain does not recognize the word ‘NO’. When I say to you: ‘Don’t think about a blue car’, what will you be thinking of? Exactly.. .you can’t think of anything else but a blue car. Our brain ‘thinks’ in pictures. So if you say: I do not want to smoke anymore. What does your brain ‘see’ ? That cigarette and you can only think about that. If you think I want clean and healthy lungs, then that will be the image that is seen in your brain. So always look at the changes you are going to make in a positive light and not in a negative one.
- You don’t have to make changes on your own.
Nothing is more difficult than to make changes on your own. You don’t want to bother someone else with your New Year’s resolutions and keep them to yourself. What you do here is you keep the back door open. This way you give yourself, in advance, the chance to backtrack on your good intentions and your New Year’s resolutions will disappear as snow in the sun. Tell everyone who wants to hear it that you are changing you lifestyle because you want to feel healthier and fitter, or that you are going to join the gym because you want to improve your muscles and burn of more energy. Shout about it. This way people around you will support you and you will be locking that backdoor. Now you can’t go back on your word. And that is what you want. There is no more going back. You are moving to your new goal!
- Work with someone that can support you.
It is far easier to change your habits when you are working with someone else, either in a group or with a coach. That way you are held accountable, you get support and advice and you can exchange experiences. Working with others can stimulate, inspire and motivate you to change your lifestyle and install new habits. Making changes can hurt because you need to say goodbye to old habits. It will feel like a loss and it is good to have people you can talk to. They will encourage you to keep going as they know what you’re going through. Recognition and being heard are a huge incentive when learning a new habit.
- Reward yourself for every positive step you make.
Every step is one step closer to your goal, no matter how small it is. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give yourself time to learn new habits. Make yourself a road map and reward yourself for every positive step you make. Suppose you want to lose 20 kilos. Set a milestone between your goals and for example reward yourself for every 5 kilo you lose. Rewards such as buying yourself a book, go to the cinema; choose something you really want to do. Be proud of yourself, say it to yourself, and reward yourself! This is much more important than you think.
- Don’t lose sight of your goal(s).
Most of the time you will be strong and it all seems to go smoothly. But then stress comes into play. When that happens you are enabling your ‘eatneurons’ which means you are forced to eat. The body is experiencing stress as a fight and flight situation and in order to flee, you need energy which indicates to your body that you need food. If you’re aware of this, keep your goal in mind as it will be much easier to resist the temptations. What you might find useful is to stick a note on your fridge with your goals written on it. Or if you want to go skiing and you do not fit into last year’s suit anymore because it is too tight, hang it in your bedroom so you can see what you are working towards.
Any more tips?
I could give you many more tips but for now I think this is enough. Implement them. Do let me know if you have any good tips or ideas to change your habits and share them with others by commenting on this page. Thanks.
If you need help let me know. There are several ways I will be able to help you. For example a 21 day programme: http://drdestress.co.uk/successful-mindset-eat-wright/ or a 6 week programme that helps you to reach an optimum in your health: http://www.eatwright.co.uk/work-with-leonie-wright/
To better health Leonie x
Does this sound familiar? Christmas is approaching and you are having one party after the other; the office Christmas party, a dinner with friends you have not seen for a while, an invite to a charity ball and so on. You bought some nice dresses and managed to lose some pounds in order to look good in the outfits you bought. You’re all set. You even plucked a “healthy” Christmas dinner from the internet firmly believing that you will stick to your guns and keep that weight off…… But before you know it, you’ve been tempted by all the delicious foods on offer. All good intentions to get through the month of December unscathed, disappear like snow in the sun. Yet you do not want to be too surprised when you get on the scales at the beginning of 2017.
Here are 7 tips that could help you to survive the holidays without putting on the pounds:
- Remember: December has only 3 holidays.
We are often afraid of the month of December with all its’parties, dinners and temptations. But don’t forget December has only three holidays: Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. We ourselves make it a dangerous month. And to be perfectly honest: Do we really put on that much weight over those three days? The other 28 days of the month are the problem. The days before and after Christmas and the days before and after New Year’s Eve are the issue! Just thought I mention that.
- Is it worth the sin?
Ask yourself the following question with each bite you eat: I like this a lot but do I like this enough to go off the rails for? On the other hand, don’t be too harsh on yourself. You are allowed to enjoy yourself and have the odd treat. Being too strict with yourself might have the opposite effect. Try to strike a balance and ask yourself again and again the following question: Is eating or drinking this worth it? This way you will become more aware of what you put in your mouth.
- Breakfast is the most important meal….
What do you normally have for breakfast? Porridge or yoghurt with seeds and nuts and some fruit? That is perfect. Why should you have a different breakfast in December? Of course it is tempting to have the croissants and that lovely glass of fresh orange juice. I’m sure you feel that you’re not doing that bad with a breakfast like this. Oh, and just add to that a piece of fruit, another healthy option. Surely fruit is healthy, but if you have breakfast and a croissant, and a piece of fruit and a glass of juice and a donut…. Before you know it, your blood sugar level will raise sky high and you will feel very tired afterwards. Despite all the dinners and meals out, do have a good breakfast. You’ll probably think: well if I skip breakfast I will put on less weight. But that works counterproductive. If you don’t have a healthy breakfast, you will be hungry at coffee time and succumb more easily to the temptations of a mince pie or a piece of Christmas cake. Remember one thing: A hearty breakfast will make you feel full all morning.
- Healthy snacks
If you have had a good breakfast first thing in the morning, you will probably not succumb to that piece of cake with your cup of coffee or tea, while out shopping. What is wrong with just having a cup of coffee? You don’t always have to have something with it. If you crave something to eat, make sure you always take a handful of unroasted nuts with you or put an apple in your bag. That’s far better than having all those sugary snacks that are available in the coffee shops and restaurants. Your body will thank you for it.
- Keep exercising.
Nothing is as important during the holidays, as to keep moving.
- Particularly during the holidays when we don’t need to go to work, there will be plenty of time to go for an outing to the beach or the forest. Get your walking shoes on and take the family or your friends on a nice brisk walk.
- Being on the move will give you more satisfaction than launching on the couch with a book the whole day. I myself walk on Box Hill every day and try to get 10.000 steps under my belt. By being active you do your body a huge favour. You are less likely to put on those extra pounds and it will benefit your overall health. You will burn excess calories and you’ll be in better shape and feel fitter!
- Keep drinking water
If you drink enough water, there will be a number of advantages:
- Where there is water, food can’t go. Drink a large glass of water before each meal or snack and you’ll automatically eat less.
- If you drink plenty of water, excess waste (among others from alcohol) will be better disposed of and your body will not be forced to produce fat in order to store the excess waste.
- Make sure you enjoy the festive season and don’t start a diet in the New Year
Enjoy the festive season and promise me not to go on a diet in the New Year. 90-95% of diets fail in the long term. (Find out why here). If you anticipate putting on weight in December, and you decide beforehand to go on a diet in January, you give yourself permission to eat everything you want. Before you know it, you will have put on 4-5kg rather than the 2kg you allowed yourself. It is far better to change your lifestyle if you want to improve your health, fitness and waistline.
And this is where I can help you.
- Do you want to get rid of your sugar cravings and sugar addiction?
- Do you have health issues such as Diabetes 2, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol or another medical condition?
- Are you fed up with taking medication?
- Or have you tried every diet under the sun and still not managed to maintain your weight?
You might want to have a look at my 6 week healthy eating programme or the 3 week The Successful Mindset to EatWright course. If you book before 25 December there will be a 10% discount on the 6 week programme and an extra half hour session with the experts for the 3 week course. Send me an email if you would like to take advantage of this offer.
Wishing you all a Very Happy Christmas and Health, Happiness and Prosperity for 2016.
To better health,
One of the major contributing factors to the deterioration in our health is the high amounts of sugar in the food and drink we consume. Alternatives to sugar exist. But unfortunately, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharine and sucralose are potentially more harmful than those sweet white crystals. Many of these sweeteners are said, for example, to contain dangerous levels of toxicity. So, what do you do?
Stevia is the answer. This sugar substitute is extracted from the stevia plant and made of stevioside and rebaudioside and does not contain fructose. Naturally grown in Brazil and Paraguay, stevia has been used for over 1,500 years to sweeten foods and treat burns and stomach discomfort. The plant gets its sweetness from naturally occurring glycosides. These glycosides are extracted from its leaves in a completely natural process that starts by placing the plant in hot water.
Chances are you know very little about stevia. You may have not heard of it at all. Due to delays in gaining regulatory approval for food use, stevia did not become available in the European market until December 2011. In Japan, 40% of the sweetener market is estimated to be stevia-based. The Japanese have been conducting extensive research on stevia since the 1970s and have found it to be completely safe.
Dubbed as the sweetener of the future, stevia is the logical replacement for sugar because it is:
- 100% natural
- 300 times sweeter
- has zero calories
- and most importantly does not raise blood sugar levels
Stevia is becoming increasingly popular: even being used by well-known brands such as ‘Coca-Cola Life’ (launched in 2014). Per 100ml, ‘Life’ contains 1 teaspoon less sugar than the “full fat” (or, rather, “sugar”) version. This is, of course, a step in the right direction. The drink relies on both stevia extracts and cane sugar for its sweetness and, because it does not contain harmful artificial sweeteners, is preferable to its “diet” cousins.
But beware. Amongst the artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes in your local supermarket you may find something advertised as stevia. These products are often not authentic and may contain other (artificial) sweeteners as well as stevia.
Using the ‘real’ stevia, the one that contains steviolglycosides, has the following 5 benefits:
- Anticancer Abilities
In 2012, Nutrition and Cancer highlighted a ground breaking study that, for the first time ever, connected stevia consumption to breast cancer reduction. It was observed that stevioside enhances cancer apoptosis (cell death) and decreases certain stress pathways in the body that contribute to cancer growth.
The journal Food Chemistry published a study out of Croatia showing that when stevia is added to natural colon cancer killing mixtures, such as blackberry leaf, antioxidant levels soar. Together, these studies show stevia’s potential as a natural cancer treatment.
- Sweet News for Diabetics
Using stevia instead of white sugar can be extremely helpful to diabetics who need to avoid conventional sugar as much as possible. But they also shouldn’t have artificial chemical sweeteners. Human and animal studies have demonstrated that artificial sweeteners can raise your blood sugar levels even more than if you consumed the real stuff (table sugar).
- Helps Weight Loss
Our high sugar intake has been linked to weight gain and adverse effects on blood sugar, two things that can have serious negative impacts on health. Stevia is a plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener. If you choose to replace health-hazardous table sugar with a high-quality stevia extract and use it in moderation, it helps you decrease not only your overall daily sugar intake, but also your caloric intake. This way you can prevent obesity as well as the many health problems linked with obesity such as diabetes 2.
- Improves Cholesterol Levels
Results of a 2009 study showed that stevia extract had “positive and encouraging effects” on overall cholesterol profiles. It’s important to note that researchers also found that there were no adverse stevia side effects on the health status of the subjects involved in this stevia study. Researchers concluded that stevia extract effectively decreases elevated serum cholesterol levels; including triglycerides and LDL (“bad cholesterol”), while increasing good HDL cholesterol. You could say stevia results in the best of both worlds when it comes to cholesterol numbers.
- Lowers High Blood Pressure
“Available research is promising for the use of stevia in hypertension,” says Catherine Ulbricht, senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and co-founder of Natural Standard Research Collaboration, which reviews scientific evidence on herbs and supplements. Ulbricht said Natural Standard gave stevia a “grade B for efficacy” in reducing blood pressure.
Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels and increase sodium excretion, two things that are very helpful to keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Evaluation of two long-term studies (one and two years in length, respectively) gives hope that stevia may be effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients. However, data from shorter studies (one to three months) did not support these findings.
I hope by now you are convinced that it is far better to use stevia as a sweetener rather than artificial sweeteners. Just make sure you buy the ‘real’ stuff. Authentic stevia is available online and can, of course, be purchased through EatWright.
If you really feel like you can’t live your life without sweetness, then stevia is the healthiest and most effective sweetener available today. Hooray for the wonders of this magnificent plant!
Wondering how to use stevia? I have written CookWright with stevia, a cook book that uses stevia in 50 recipes varying from carrot cake to biscuits and salads. Send me an email if you would like to know more or try out a couple of recipes.
To Better Health,
With a title like this you might think this is a blog about tennis, the sport where these terms are used. But that is not the case. This story has nothing to do with tennis. It is a story about a young girl who went from diet to diet and by finding her “set point” she transformed her life, stopped trying to lose weight and feels comfortable in her own body.
Claire was 13 when she first went on a diet. For months, she saved the money she earned doing a paper round to buy low-calorie foods such as cucumbers and melon and kept them in a fridge downstairs so she wouldn’t be tempted by the other food in her home.
She was a healthy, slim American teenage girl but, encouraged by her mother and the magazines she was reading, she convinced herself she needed to lose weight. Throughout her teens and twenties, she lost and regained the same 15lb. She felt great when thin, and always blamed herself for being weak-willed when the weight came back.
While studying, stressed by work and relationships she started binge eating. For the next three decades, her weight yo-yoed by 3st. The cycle repeated itself every time: she would lose weight, regain it, lose weight, and regain it. She ate almost nothing but vegetables and worked out for an hour every morning. In all, she traversed the entire ‘normal’ weight range for her height during her three decades of dieting.
As a neuroscientist, Claire, now 49, had read enough scientific papers to understand intellectually that diets do not work. It took her a while to really believe it, though. Finally, in 2010, she decided to give up dieting for a year. She would only eat when hungry and stop as soon as she was full. She would also make good food choices, eating vegetables, fruit and wholegrains, and she would exercise every day. In doing so she lost 11lb. She resolved to give up dieting for life- and says it is the best decision she has ever made.
Claire had worried that, without the restrictions of a diet, she would balloon and never stop eating. In fact, she found the opposite, she says. Like a lot of people, she eats less when she is less wound up worrying about her weight. Deprivation, and fear of it, was motivating her to overeat.
Limited resources of willpower are no longer used up trying to reduce food intake, which leaves Claire the headspace to focus on exercising regularly, eating quality food and eliminating stress. Listening to her body’s signals of fullness and hunger is now an unthinking habit. Dieting requires spending a lot of energy on trying to succeed, when you could be doing other, better things, she says.
Claire’s message could not be simpler: not only do diets not work; they often leave us worse off. Read the FREE REPORT on why diets do not work here.
Did you know that everyone has a weight range, called the “set point”, that the brain considers to be their body’s correct weight? This varies from person to person, influenced by genes and lifestyle choices, but if you drop below it, your brain declares a state of starvation. It releases more hunger-inducing hormones, suppresses your metabolism and makes eating feel more rewarding. And it doesn’t stop until your weight returns to where the brain thinks it should be, making it nearly impossible to maintain significant weight loss. Unfortunately, obesity can be considered your normal. When people are obese, it’s usually because their brain considers that weight to be correct for them.
Dieting often leads to weight gain. It releases stress hormones that act on fat cells to increase abdominal fat. It also encourages binge eating and an emotional attachment to food that leads you to overeat. Sound familiar? Statistics tell the same story: after five years, 41% of dieters gained more weight than they lost, while studies of identical twins show that a dieting twin is more likely to gain weight than the none-dieting one.
The root of the problem, it seems, is not willpower but biology. We have a cultural narrative that says the reason we put weight back on is because we can’t stick to a diet. Actually, it is because your brain is fighting it with everything it can.
Set points do not drop easily but it can be done. Here is how.
- You need to clean your body on cellular level,
- know which foods to eat and how much,
- drink plenty of water and
- incorporate more exercise in your life.
This way you can change your “set point” and will you be able to maintain your health and weight.
Since Claire gave up trying to lose weight her relationship with food and her body have been transformed. She now only thinks of food when she is hungry and is completely relaxed about it. She wears clothes she never used to – such as sleeveless dresses – and dance regularly. As a result she has become more comfortable and pleased with the way her body looks.
If you need help to reach your “set point” let me know, as I can match it to your body.
To better Health,