How to Break the Cycle of Yo-Yo Dieting
If you are sick of seeing the numbers go up and down on the scale, you can still get back on track.
Whether it was a special holiday dinner that caused you to reach for seconds, or that all you can eat buffet that was too tempting to ignore, you can overcome the powerful temptations that can cause yo-yo dieting.
Here are some tips, courtesy of one of our Registered Dietitians, that can help you overcome your yo-yo lifestyle.
4. Step Back from the Scale
If you are just focusing on calories, and nothing else, this can put a roadblock on your plans to get healthy. There are other contributing factors to your frustration you may never be aware of, simply because you are obsessing over certain things.
“If you feel like you are doing everything you are supposed to, your weight can still fluctuate depending on how hydrated you are, or based on time of day,” says Carrie Wissemeier, a Registered Dietitian and one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD. “It’s not necessary to obsess over every single morsel you eat. This may lead to stress, which can contribute to the cycle of yo-yo dieting. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the body in response to stress and has been linked to blood sugar imbalances and increased abdominal fat."
Continue to focus on eating right, just re-focus some of this energy on how you feel, and don't obsess over food. Do you feel good after you exercise? Is walking up and down the stairs at work getting easier? Can you keep up with your toddler? Little things like this can really make you feel good and help you get out of the "stress and obsess" bubble.
3. Sharing is Caring
To keep you accountable and to help you stay on track, a good tip is to share with close friends and family the meals you have been eating.
“Talking about your struggles and goals will make you less likely to cheat on your program,” says Carrie. “The more accountability you have, the less likely you are to reach for that piece of cake or that second serving of pasta.”
People who hold you accountable are also the best cheerleaders and motivators. Many people who fall into the cycle of yo-yo dieting often lack the support they need, which is crucial if your goal is to make a lifetime commitment to health.
If you have someone holding you accountable, it’s much easier to stay on track.
2. Don’t Let Food Feed Your Emotions
The stress of life can often overwhelm you to the point where you depend on food to soothe your emotions.
“Emotional eating can be one of the biggest causes of yo-yo dieting,” says Carrie. “Stress eating and emotional eating can quickly turn into binge eating because it's very difficult to keep track of the food we consume when we are emotional."
Before you know it, the whole bag of potato chips is gone and you’ve eaten two candy bars.
In order to fight off the urges of emotional eating, come up with a list of calming strategies that don’t include food.
The list can be simple things that will keep your mind distracted and void of temptation. Go for a 5 minute walk, practice deep breathing techniques, or play with your favorite furry friend. All of these activities will help take the focus away from food.
1. Don’t be Afraid to Change
Maybe you set your initial goals too high, or maybe you didn’t set the expectations of yourself high enough, but it’s okay if you may need to re-evaluate your initial goals.
“In most cases, people don’t look at weight loss as a lifetime commitment,” says Carrie. “It’s often for a special event, like a wedding or a reunion, and the focus is centered around pounds on a scale. Many people also tend to set unrealistic goals for themselves when it comes to weight loss.”
Carrie recommends forgetting about the short-term benefits and re-focusing on the lifetime effects, like better health and increased energy levels. It’s also fun to set, big new goals.
Getting healthy for a marathon next year, or climbing a mountain are big goals, but they are long-term and can be very rewarding. Write these goals down, and check them off each time you achieve them. This will give your motivation an extra boost.
For more tips from our experts, please visit our healthy facts section for more information.
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