Many things can lead to yo-yo dieting from hunger and cravings to boredom and fatigue. This on-again-off-again diet circle is mentally and physically draining and can leave you feeling defeated. In this post, I’ll share three things that I’ve found to be successful in helping people break the yo-yo diet cycle.
The Yo-Yo-Dieting Cure [Video]
Step #1: Choose Foods that Steady Your Blood Sugar
The first and best strategy for ending yo-yo dieting is to eat in a way that keeps your blood sugar level steady.
This is the best strategy because it puts you in control of hunger and cravings, instead of hunger and cravings ruling your life and forcing you to rely on willpower to keep your diet on track.
Getting control of blood sugar can be accomplished by making different food choices.
There are three main nutrients that you consume every day. They are fat, protein, and carbs. These three nutrients affect your blood sugar in different ways.
When you consume a food that is mostly carbohydrate, like a cookie, muffin, or sugary coffee drink, your blood sugar rises quickly and steeply.
This peak in blood sugar is uncomfortable for your body, so it acts quickly to drive that level down. You end up in a state of low blood sugar.
Having too little blood sugar is as uncomfortable as having too much. Your body jumps into action again. Only this time, it turns on hunger and cravings so that you eat something to boost your blood sugar back up.
You are now on the yo-yo rollercoaster and you most likely feel out of control.
In contrast, if you were to consume a food that was mostly fat like butter or oil, your blood sugar would be largely unaffected with little, if any, perceivable rise or fall.
Combine that fat with protein, such as frying up an egg or eating a piece of meat or fish and you’ll experience a gentle rise and fall in your blood sugar.
Gaining Control over Sugar
The first step to moving past yo-yo dieting is to choose foods that have the least impact on your blood sugar.
When you switch your eating pattern from a high-carb, low-fat diet to a high-fat, low-carb diet, you experience hunger differently.
On a high-carb diet, particularly one that is high in sugar and refined carbs, you are subjected to blood sugar crashes that make you instantly and anxiously crave food.
When you cut the carbs and boost the fat, hunger comes on gradually as your blood sugar gently drops. This leaves you with a feeling of control over when and what to eat next.
Your desire for sweets will diminish as you continue on a low-carb, high-fat diet. This has been true for me and is a topic that is often brought up in the member’s forum of my Freedom Weight Loss Coaching Program.
There is a physiological reason for this diminished desire.
Sugar is a unique food. When you first eat it, it stimulates your brain and wakes up your taste buds. Just think of how a one-year-old’s eyes light up when he gets that first bite of birthday cake.
There’s no doubt that sugar is very stimulating, but when you eat a lot of it, your taste buds and brain build up a tolerance to it. To get that same “wow” feeling, you crave more and more sugar.
When you break free from sugar, your system resets and you experience the freedom of being able to comfortably say, “no thank you” to desserts and sugary snacks.
Step #2: Keep Exercise Moderate
Next, let’s talk about exercise. It is certainly true that getting your body moving on a regular basis improves your health and wellbeing. However, some people feel that they must increase their exercise to lose weight.
Exercise sessions that are more intense or longer than you are used to will increase hunger and fatigue.
If you’ve been somewhat sedentary and you decide that exercise is the strategy that you’ll rely on to lose weight, you may find yourself frustrated and looking for snacks.
To get in control, I find that it is best to get your diet right first and then gradually increase your exercise as you progress toward your goal.
Step #3: Build a Beneficial Mindset
Lastly, it’s essential to build a beneficial mindset. When you have a history of enthusiastically starting diets only to stop and return to your old habits, you can start to create beliefs that work against success.
In my Freedom Weight Loss program, members have an opportunity to work through a five-part series that helps them create a new weight loss mindset.
One of the sections addresses old beliefs, which are those stories that run through your head so often that they influence your habits and behaviors.
For instance, it’s not unusual to tell yourself, “I’ve been overweight for so long, I’ll never change” or “Dieting isn’t worth the effort. I’m just going to gain the weight back”.
These beliefs get stuck in your head and they can convince you that it’s silly to continue pursuing weight loss even if the plan you’re on is working.
Changing a belief starts with awareness. You can’t change something until you know what it is you need to change. Start tuning into the stories that run through your head.
If you are looking to move past yo-yo dieting, you’ll be happiest with your results if you follow a low-carb, high-fat diet, allow your exercise level to grow as you progress, and get your head in the game by creating a new beneficial mindset.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.