Dear Dr. Yael,
I’ve struggled with my weight since I was very young. I have literally been on every diet out there: Atkins; Weight Watchers; fat free; keto; paleo; intermittent fasting; just to name a few. I have no issues getting started with a new diet. I tend to get extremely motivated to pursue the latest diet trend and am usually successful at following anything I commit to. I am disciplined and persevere and manage to lose the weight. The issue has always been that as soon as I go back to eating regular foods without strictly following the diet plan that enabled me to lose weight, I tend to gain it right back. I can’t seem to sustain the weight loss. Do you have any suggestions for me? I am so sick of this yo-yo cycle. I just want to lose weight and keep it off forever. I am willing to do anything.
Frustrated yo-yo dieter
Dear Frustrated yo-yo dieter,
I completely understand where you are coming from. I have been in the same boat and can relate. Dieting and weight loss is by no means easy, but what is even harder than that, is weight maintenance. I personally have been successful at dieting many times throughout my life, and like you, have faced the challenge of keeping the weight off. That is until I learned a new method through my dietitian “Brocha Soloff, R.D. C.D.N.” (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I learned that in order for the weight loss to be maintained post-diet, I needed to diet in a way that was sustainable. In other words, diets don’t work, but lifestyle changes do. The key to losing weight and keeping it off forever is to develop a healthy relationship with food, one in which you find a pattern of eating that is something you can more or less stick with forever. Yes, there are always opportunities for mindful indulgences, but overall, 80% of the time, you need to stick to a healthy way of eating, that is, the way in which you ate while you lost the weight.
Now you might be thinking, but how is that possible…to stick to a diet without carbohydrates forever? What about birthday cake at a celebration and what about challah on Shabbos? My answer is that a diet that excludes food groups is not a long term, sustainable diet and will not enable you to maintain the weight you lost once you reintroduce carbohydrates into your diet. Rather, a sustainable diet is one that includes all food groups in moderation.
The key is to learn what types of foods to include; specific types of carbohydrates, and of course portion sizes are important. My nutritionist has taught me this invaluable lesson and for the first time in my life, I am not on a diet, but rather I am living a healthy, balanced lifestyle that includes all food groups. In the past, when I have gone on ‘no carbohydrate’ diets, I have felt: tired, weak, and hungry. Now I feel alive, energetic, and very satisfied. I am able to enjoy the foods I like; even carbohydrates and occasional treats in moderation. When I have an indulgence, I think of it as a mindful decision, rather than a cheat. Cheating has a negative connotation. People cheat on their taxes, or G-d forbid on their spouse. Better to think of it as a personal choice to eat something more decadent to celebrate the occasion, and remember, it’s not all or nothing. Having a few bites of dessert doesn’t mean I need to finish the whole thing.
I have really learned the true meaning of the word diet; not a restriction, but a pattern of eating. Eating this way allows me to look and feel my best without compromising my quality of life or enjoyment. I spend weekends and holidays with my children, without bringing my own food. I eat out at restaurants and order straight off the menu. I am not exercising endlessly and have zero guilt about it. In the past, I have always felt I needed to exercise in order to maintain my weight, but I have learned that my intake matters more. My new way of eating allows me to enjoy foods I love while still feeling great in my body. I don’t live with fear of the weight coming back as I have learned the science behind weight loss and can always reset. There are definitely secrets to weight loss and maintenance without hunger and I am grateful for having had the opportunity to learn them from my dietitian.
I would like to inspire you to seek out help from a dietitian, who can help you find a sustainable way of eating that you can stick with long term so that you can find the peace and joy in food freedom, enabling you to look and feel your best, without compromising your lifestyle and without feeling like you are ‘on a diet.’ After years of searching, I have finally found something that works and want to share that with all those struggling dieters out there. There is a solution but it’s not necessarily what you think. You will get to eat all foods in moderation, even carbohydrates. Carbohydrates often get a bad rap but in essence, carbohydrates don’t make you gain weight. Carbohydrates eaten in excess of your glycogen storage capacity is what makes you gain weight and you can manipulate that to allow yourself adequate carbohydrates in your diet while still maintaining your physique.
Find a nutritionist that will allow you to include all food groups and still achieve success. It’s possible! I have found a long term solution. No more fad diets for me! No more omission of bread! I finally have discovered a healthy lifestyle and found food freedom. It definitely takes patience and determination, but it is so much easier than the vicious dieting cycle. It involves sacrifice, but not suffering. You can do this! I am rooting for you! Hatzlocha!