Why the Brain Resists Diets

I learned that 80% of 10 year old girls have tried dieting. What??!!!  I have a 2 year old daughter and I want to prevent this vicious cycle of dieting for her, for your daughter, and for you.  I hope I can convince you to never put yourself or anyone on a diet.

The brain controls hunger & energy automatically.  This is good that the brain works on an unconscious level because it would be exhausting if we had to remember to breathe, or relearn walking over and over again.  The brain also controls weight.  The hypothalamus brain regulates weight by telling the body to gain or lose weight to keep weight stable as conditions change much like a thermostat in our house.  If it gets cold, kick up the heat.  If it gets hot, kick up the AC and keep the set point the same.  

When we lose lots of weight , the brain thinks it’s starving and prompts hunger signals and tells the muscle to burn less energy.  The brain thinks food is scarce and conserves energy (no matter what our weight is).  When we get food, it prompts the body to store the fat to prepare for next “winter.”  This is evolution for survival.  Human evolution has seen more years of food scarcity than 24/7 drive-thru.   

Research shows that 5 years after a diet, we regain the weight back and 40% gain even more.  At worst, diets ruin lives with eating disorders.  Girls who diet in their early teenage years are 3 times more likely to be overweight 5 years later (even if they started out thin).  

In my office, we focus on eating mindfully and intuitively versus using willpower and control.  People who use the controlled method are more likely to be overweight and binge because willpower expires when you decide to focus on something else.  

Let’s tell our girls to eat when they are hungry.  Let’s eat when WE are hungry and stop eating when we are full.  Let’s learn the cues our body sends us constantly, listen, and figure out what makes our body feel good.  Give yourself permission to eat what you want.  Relax around food.  Your stress is making you binge! 

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA