Dieting creates food obsession

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Dieting can create food obsession, through various physical and mental things that occur due to the dieting process. People who restrict their intake for long periods of time can develop behavioural problems and unhealthy relationship with food.This is particularly true for people who drop their body weight too low or are chronic dieters. We all have our own unique set points in which our body likes to sit. Trying to fight this through dieting, can create obsessive eating behaviours.

How do I determine my ideal body weight?

Everyone has a unique ideal body  we call this set point theory. Scientist’s think that there is a level of body fat that a person is genetically pre determined to be. It’s a body weight in which everything functions optimally, for example maintaining a proper menstrual cycle for women.

This theory suggests that when a person tries to diet below their set point, the body fights back. It tries to maintain its current level of body fat by lowering metabolic rate, increasing thoughts of food, increasing feelings of hunger and inducing lethargy, causing people to become less active.

Similarly, the body can fight weight gain to some degree, however less effectively. When you eat above energy requirements your metabolism increases in order to try and burn off excess fuel. The reason why people gain excessive amounts of weight is that they push their set point to a higher level, through chronic over eating.

Studies have shown that when trying to reduce energy intake below 1200kcal daily the set point theory mechanisms kick in. When a person under consumes calories for greater than 2 weeks body weight protection mechanisms take place. Mechanisms such as: decreasing metabolism by 1.4% every day, increasing thoughts of food, you tend to feel hungrier and develop obsessive behaviours with food.

These obsessive behaviours can manifest in; counting calories, orthorexia, heating food to certain temperatures, increased used of herbs, salt and spices for flavour enhancement, lengthening out meal times to make food last longer and eating in secrete. A similar set of obsessive tendencies can also happen in the recreational dieter. Thats why smart people don’t diet.

Your ideal body weight, is the weight your body naturally likes sitting at when you eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. If weight regain is a problem you need to read this post.

Hormones that regulate our hunger

There are two important hormones that regular hunger Insulin and Leptin. Insulin is a hormone that is released by pancreas cells when we eat carbohydrate foods. Its job is to pick up glucose in the blood stream and take it to cells to be used as energy. Insulin can directly influence our hunger levels. The hormone circulates the body in relation to fat mass and acts on the brain to prompt decrease appetite and food intake.
Working in conjunction with insulin is leptin. Leptin is secreted by our fat cells. It controls the amount of fat we store and body weight. In studies they have found that lean individuals have better insulin sensitivity, as do individuals who have recently lost weight. However obese individuals and those who over consume food on a daily basis can become insulin resistant.
This is a problem,  when you are insulin resistant it is extremely difficult to regulate hunger and appetite. The body now has hormonal signals sending out messages from the brain to keep eating. When we try to diet these hunger hormones can be thrown out of balance making the more dedicated dieter fail.

How can I lose weight without food obsession?

Weight acceptance is an integral part of healing your relationship with food. Body dissatisfaction is so intertwined in food choices. For a lot of people it’s hard to talk about changing the diet without addressing how they feel about themselves. Dieting obsession can tied back to feels of self worth and self esteem. When your identity depends on how you look or which diet you follow, that how obsession can develop.

What is perceived as “bad” food choices for some can result in feelings of guilt, self aberration, loss of self confidence and in the end, usually more eating. One of the biggest driving factors with our negative feelings towards our weight and food obsession is the driving force behind public health messages from the media and government that tell us that being thin is healthy and being thin is beautiful.

Weight acceptance is being happy with your body weight and who you are right now. Weight acceptance is about keeping up with healthy living, just not obsessing about weight loss. There is a degree of respect we should give the lovely machine we walk around in all day. If you love and care for your body it will reward you with a life time of happy living. Believe it or not weight acceptance usually leads to some gradual weight loss because the guilt and binge eating stops. Make simple changes to your diet that are not going to create food obsession or make you obsessed with weight loss.

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