Why is it that over 80% of people who lose weight eventually regain what they lose and often more? Because dieting is not about what we eat, it is about why we eat! Diets typically fail to recognize that food is the world’s most addictive substance! Craving for food is much more powerful than craving for nicotine, alcohol and other substances.
But unlike every other addictive substance food is critically different in one way – it is a human need. We must have it to survive. Alcohol, nicotine and other substances of addiction can be hard enough to give up or manage – and they are nowhere near as important to us as food is! Is it really any wonder that dieting has such a high failure rate? As smokers in the western world have given up over the last couple of decades, overeating has really taken off!
When we accept that food is a highly addictive substance and start to tackle it from this perspective, we begin to take control of it. Ignore its habit-forming potential and we are powerless to control it.
Very few weight loss programs fully appreciate the addictive quality of food and even fewer deal with it – primarily because they simply don’t know how to. Very few diet program planners are qualified in both human psychology and human physiology. It is deadly simple and much easier to tell people what they should eat with the latest and greatest diet.
Trouble is, this focus on what to eat is largely irrelevant; I don’t think I have met an overweight person who did not know what they should eat and what they shouldn’t eat!
Getting people excited – and motivated – about a new diet is easy; people want to believe in a new quick and easy solution, but this motivation only works for the short term. The enticement of a quick and easy solution is the real life version of the story of the drunk looking under the streetlight for his house keys.
As the story goes, a man out for a late night stroll comes across the hapless fellow and helps him search. After spending some time helping the drunk without any sign of the keys, he ventured the question ‘Are you sure you dropped them around here?’ ‘Oh no’, replied the drunk, T dropped them over there in the shadows, but it’s too dark to find them there.’
The best way to develop a new eating lifestyle is to involve the others with whom you share your refrigerator so that you create a sub-culture that makes it easier for everyone in it to eat in way that keeps everyone slim.
Perhaps our greatest responsibility, however, is to the next generation. Rates of obesity in children have doubled. Those of us who are parents must make it easier for our children to manage their weight by making healthy eating an automatic lifestyle for them from a young age. In this way – by the time they are making their own food choices, healthy eating will be a deeply entrenched habit.