If there is a compulsion to eat in an unhealthy and undesirable way, or where there is a combination of other problems such as depression, anxiety, over-eating, binging or bulimia, then a course therapy or coaching may be a far better solution to resolving the anxiety behind these symptoms.
From Weight Watchers to the Ducan Diet, from the Cambridge Diet to the Chemical Diet… not a year, or even a month, goes by without the introduction of the newest and best diet for one and all. There are also miracle fat pills that promise unbelievable results. And creams, wraps, pumps, potions, and patches that will help to melt away your body fat, reduce inches, or pump up your muscles, or even give a supposed six pack, and of course if all of that fails and you’re really desperate, there’s always the surgeon’s knife that some people resort to.
The fact is though, no matter what new diet, patch or pill comes out, the statistics remain the same – diets have a 95% failure rate. And most people know that before they start! That’s almost setting yourself up to fail!
Despite this incredible failure rate, people still flock in their millions when the latest diet sensation hits the market. All it takes is for one slim, good-looking celebrity to say I swear by this diet, and before you know it every weekly woman’s magazine has it on the front cover, tabloid TV shows are getting members of the public to try it out, and Amazon and WH Smith are quickly finding new space for this amazing new weight loss phenomenon.
What few of us ordinary people realise is that these celebrities are often constantly struggling with their weight and their food like the vast majority of people. In fact, nine times out of ten they are more hung up over their food intake and their bodies than Mr and Mrs Average. But because we think that all is well in celebrity land, people seem willing to follow just about anything they do, no matter how bizarre it is.
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One thing all diets have in common is that none of them deal with the mental side of dieting, which is precisely why the majority of them fail. Yes, some diets are doomed to disaster because of how little you are allowed to eat or the lack of good nutrition. However, the vast majority of diets fail, not because of some genuine physical deprivation, but solely due to a feeling of mental deprivation.
There is a wonderful sketch in an episode of Men Behaving Badly where Tony goes on a diet after being picked on by the other three main characters. We see Tony struggling with the diet, saying how difficult it is and how hungry he feels. His flat-mate Gary asks him how long he has been on the diet, to which Tony replies One hour and thirteen minutes!
This may be a little far-fetched, but not that far. Almost the minute people jump on a diet they immediately focus on the foods and drinks they can no longer have. In fact, most people start panicking about life without these foods and drinks days before they even start the diet. Clearly, this has nothing whatsoever to do with any genuine physical hunger, as they haven’t even started the diet yet. It is only down to a mental feeling of deprivation. The truth is you can go on just about any diet you like, but unless the mental deprivation is eliminated, the diets will all feel pretty much the same.
A diet only removes the foods causing the weight/health problem (and some don’t even do that). They do nothing to help with the mental deprivation.
Mental deprivation explained:
When a person gives up a certain food for a diet, they can obsess over the food that they are not having. Have you ever tried not to eat that chocolate bar in cupboard and then eventually you just can’t resist? In fact, if I said ‘Don’t think about a chocolate bar!’, what’s the first thing that enters your mind? We usually focus on what we are deprived of and it is the deprivation in diets causing the cravings.
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Hence the Law of reversed effort.
The human mind has rules, natural laws that govern its ways of functioning. One of the most important rules we all should get to know is The Law of Reversed Effort.
This law simply states that the harder you focus on something to do, the harder it becomes: the harder you try to consciously encourage yourself not to eat that bar of chocolate because you’re on a diet, the harder it becomes to avoid eating it and thus achieve your target.
A common analogy is insomnia: the harder you try to force yourself consciously to sleep (with reason, persuasion, etc), the more awake you will be.
Reversed effect … you give more effort but get the reversed result. It works under the surface. You try to force a logic conclusion, like I won’t think about that cake because I will get fat or I have to sleep now because otherwise I’d be late tomorrow morning, and you force it on the part of your mind that understands it in reverse. The subconscious doesn’t obey straight orders. You say “I won’t eat that chocolate because I’ll be fat!” and your subconscious is focusing on that fact so you keep reminding yourself of that cake. Here’s the direction – you can’t resist, and you eat that cake; with insomnia, you simply don’t get any sleep. Confusing?
This is where your conscious will comes into conflict with your subconscious imagination.
What I want to get clear is that being on a diet is a way of thinking, not a way of eating. Yes you change your way of eating at the same time, which is why people think it’s always about the food, but the feeling of being on a diet is a way of thinking.
Why feel deprived?
The feeling of deprivation is madness. The struggle is only caused by us, by the belief we are making some kind of genuine sacrifice. It’s only caused by the bitching, moaning, moping and feeling of being hard-done by. But what on earth is there to feel deprived about? What sacrifices have really been made? How in the blazes are we actually being hard-done by? We only changed what we ate and drank, and/or the amount we ate and drank, because the foods and drinks were causing us to feel like rubbish. They either clogged up our system making us bloated and lethargic, or they produced the most common symptom in the western world today – TOO MUCH BODY FAT!
So why on earth do we moan about no longer having these disease creating, life-killing foods and drink? I mean, it’s not even as if we enjoy the entire experience of eating these rubbish foods anyway. Yes we may look forward to what we believe they will be like and get excited before we eat; and yes, we may well enjoy the first and second hit of the drug-like food fix, but nine times out of ten we end up feeling bloated and thinking, ‘Oh I wish I hadn’t had that!’ or ‘Wish I hadn’t had all of that.’
So we often hate the feeling we get after eating these foods, and we also hate the physical results they create. Yet the minute we change (because we want the amazing results the new foods and new way of life will), we start complaining because we no longer have the very stuff that made us feel like rubbish in the first place! Is it me or does that just not make any common sense? When we are on a diet we spend most of our time moping around, missing something which, rationally, we hope we won’t have. Just spend a little time thinking about how blooming stupid that is!!
Click here to find out more about the Simmer mind programme