As a weight-management consultant, and during the years spent working in a major weight-loss center, I witnessed the heartbreaking truth that even the most successful diets eventually fail. Most people use a scale to measure their weight-loss success. I hope they also take photos to add to their memory books. Why? Because dieters continue to overlook the fact that 98 to 99 percent of them will never achieve permanent weight loss by dieting. Eliminate the word diet, and you have the answer to weight loss success.
What Motivates Eating Behavior?
Although most dieters assume the guilt and responsibility for what they eat, body chemistry remains a primary motivator of eating behavior. The brain controls everything the body does; it produces the chemicals/hormones that make people sleepy and the ones that wake people up, as well as the hormones that stimulate or suppress hunger. Food provides the nutrients the brain requires to produce the chemicals that keep life-sustaining systems functioning. For some people, fast food provides the main source of nourishment. The brain does not distinguish between a taco, hamburger or pizza; it identifies different foods according to the nutrients each contains. If the brain senses impending nutrient depletion, it triggers cravings for the food it needs to restore adequate nutrient levels and maintain its chemical balance. Fast-food lovers can boost the nutritional content of their food, and give their brains a special treat, by eating fresh fruits and a garden salad with their quick meals.
When the Body Misbehaves
Studies show possible abnormalities in the triggering mechanisms that regulate eating behavior in obese people. The human body functions as a whole; its interrelated systems each contribute some part, small or large, to the working of the entire body. Even a minor malfunction can cause health issues, including weight problems. As research uncovers new relationships between various bodily functions, scientists increase their knowledge of the processes that lead to excess body weight. Eventually, they will discover the final piece that completes the obesity puzzle. However, people who need to lose weight cannot wait for science to find all the pieces — and fit them together in the correct order.
Until Science Finishes the Puzzle
Stop the gradual or rapid starvation that predicts failure for most dieters. To make weight loss as painless as possible and maintain adequate nourishment while shedding excess pounds, stick with the foods you normally eat. Calories consumed and calories burned determine body weight for people and animals, as anyone with an inactive, obese dog or cat will confirm. When calories burned exceeds calorie intake, weight loss occurs. For permanent weight loss, eat fewer calories, increase physical activity or both. Depending on calorie requirements, maintain a weight loss of no more than one to two pounds per week with a daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories. A doctor or dietitian can best determine daily calorie needs and the safest level of calorie reduction and physical activity based on individual nutritional requirements and health status.
The College of St. Scholastica, “Myths and Facts”
University of Rochester Medical Center, “Coping with Food Cravings”
Obesity Reviews, “The Role of Leptin and Ghrelin in the Regulation of Food Intake and Body Weight in Humans: A Review”