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Can Dieting Cause Weight Gain?

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When I lecture about optimal eating and weight, the question I’m asked most frequently is about the diet du jour. Many want to know what’s best: Is it the zone? Eat right for your type? What do I think about Ornish (high carbohydrate/low fat) vs. Atkins (high protein/high fat)? Which do I choose? The simple answer is that I don’t choose. Rather, I believe we’re asking the wrong questions, so we’re getting the wrong answer.

Dieting Dilemma
Recent research confirms that diets and diet foods are not the path to take for losing weight.

A sampling:
• To find out if there is a “best” popular diet, researchers assigned 160 overweight or obese adults aged twenty-two to seventy-two to one of the four wildly popular diets (Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, Ornish). When results were tallied, it turned out that none of the people in the study lost significant amounts of weight—regardless of the diet.

• Diet sodas or any foods containing sugar substitutes (such as fructose, saccharin, and aspartame, etc.) can actually contribute to weight gain. This is because your taste buds tell your body that calories (energy in food) are on the way, but your body doesn’t actually get the energy its expecting. The end result: You continue to feel hungry, so you're more likely to eat more and gain weight.

• Yet another study linked unrealistic “goal” weights with giving up on dieting and binge eating; ergo, gaining back the lost weight…and more.

Dieting Rx
To go from dieting to delight, try some ingredients of the time-tested Enlightened Diet, meaning, change your relationship with food so that it is as important to you as other relationships in your life. Here are some "get started" tips for optimizing your relationship with food each time you eat: 1) choose fresh whole food as often as possible, 2) eat in an appetizing atmosphere, 3) eat mindfully, 4) opt for appetite-based eating (in place of emotional eating), 5) savor flavor, 6) dine with others, and, 7) stop dieting. In other words, replace deprivation and a "diet mentality" with a relationship to food that is based on pleasurable, enjoyable dining.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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