All serious diets to lose weight share two things in common. For one, they offer a long-term approach, not just a quick fix. Second, they tackle the root causes of weight gain, not just the symptoms.
Did you know that the word “diet” is derived from an Ancient Greek word, diaita, which meant “way of life?” This original meaning of “diet” as a “way of life” reveals why most modern diets don’t work very well. Most diets are not intended as ways of life, but as quick fixes! A quick fix by definition can never be a lasting solution to a deeply-rooted problem, which an unbalanced relationship to food usually is.
Have you been seduced by the promise of a “quick fix?” If so, you’re not alone. The “quick fix” is part of our culture of instant gratification. In fact, the ultimate example of this obsession with quick fixes is the culture of dieting and weight loss itself!
There are some problems for which a quick solution works. But as just about anyone who has struggled with it knows, weight management isn’t one of them. A “struggle,” after all, suggests an ongoing difficulty. It may seem to go away for a while, but it keeps coming back, like weeds in the yard. A healthy and serious approach to dieting needs to have a long-term focus that advocates a new “way of life” – the original meaning of the word “diet.”
A serious weight loss diet or program should also focus on the root causes of weight gain. Most diets are symptom-focused: “lose weight quick!” The causes, however, lie hidden within our daily habits and behaviors, which we often act out blindly and unconsciously. Our habits and behaviors are in turn triggered by our emotions, thoughts, bodily sensations such as hunger and satiety, and mental states such as boredom or desire.
A serious roots-based approach to dieting and weight management asks that we cultivate our awareness (or mindfulness) of the emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations that trigger our behaviors. Awareness, all by itself, has the power to sever the negative influence of thoughts, emotions, etc. on our eating.
Like getting rid of weeds, serious diets to lose weight must get to the roots of our daily habits and behaviors. Tearing the tops off weeds only guarantees that they’ll grow back tomorrow, but digging out their roots takes care of them once and for all.
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