Year after year new diet programs, videos and books are thrown on the market, all promising the absolutely successful way to lose weight. But none have it and so we may ask: what really is at the core of our struggle?
Analyzing the Problem
In our search for an answer we can safely deduce the following:
- For a diet to be successful we have to be motivated for it.
- So what motivates us to lose weight?
But this doesn’t get us much further than “you have to be willing to do it” and warning people about the dangers of obesity. And neither so far made much of a difference. People by large are aware of the health risks, yet most choose to ignore them or the comfort they get from eating weighs heavier than the benefits from losing weight.
Therefore we have to look at it from the other end:
- What motivates us to eat food?
- We need to eat food to survive.
- Why do we eat more food than we need to survive?
The Heart Of The Problem
For our ancestors food with a lot of energy was hard to come by and foods that signaled high energy – tasting sweet or fat – was what our bodies started to associate with good for survival. This became so much an essential mechanism for our bodies that, even after decades of trying, so far not even seasoned scientists managed to intercept this efficient search for and storage of energy our bodies developed. And it sure wasn’t for a lack of trying.
What our bodies couldn’t fathom was that in the last hundred years food production was to become industrialized and that once scarce foods would be available to no end. The abundancy of high energy foods is in the long years of human history an event that happened just a second ago and our brains still go by “loads of energy = good”. We have to motivate us against this very program, that once made sense, but doesn’t anymore.
And there we are: We need to eat to survive, we are made to seek foods high in energy and our bodies reward us with positive emotion when we indulge in this self-preserving activity. Yet we live in a society where more food is available than we need and we have to resist internal and external urges to “over-reward” ourselves.
What can we take away from this? It already starts in the supermarket. Ask yourself why you buy a certain food. Is it because you believe it gives your body what it needs or do you associate a certain image or emotion with consuming that product? Looking at the act of eating itself is the next step. Are you really hungry or do you want to eat because you want to be part of a social activity, feel boredom or depression?
With a bit of self-awareness you may learn a bit more about why you do what you do and when you do it.
Picture courtesy of Nevit Dilmen.