Allow me to say that all of these diets are nutritionally sound and sensible. I have lost weight and felt better following each of them. I have counseled and supported hundreds of people over the years in their weight-loss efforts. And they succeeded too, which was profoundly satisfying for me as a counselor providing genuine weight loss help for women and men alike. There’s just one glaring flaw in this heroic battle against obesity—a 95% recidivism rate. In other words, the vast majority of people can’t maintain weight loss and fall back into old patterns of overeating.
Recently I wrote a post about the pressure we get to overeat based on an article in the May 2010 issue of Nutrition Action Newsletter by Professor Kelly Brownell in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. Professor Brown says we should stop blaming fat people for being fat and place the blame on the food industry for constantly seducing them to overeat, a sentiment with which I agreed. However, I received two comments from readers who have lost weight and begged to differ. Both responded that their weight was, in fact, due to personal indulgence rather than manipulation by the food industry. They took the blame, but I still wonder if they would argue against the fact that the food companies’ main goal is clearly to get you to eat as much of their food as possible.
The other issue in Professor Brown’s article focused on maintaining weight loss. As indicated above, the odds are not good, just 5%! He cites research done at Columbia University illustrating how our biology responds to famine. Metabolically speaking, when we lose a mere 10% of our body weight we have to exist on 15% fewer calories. He says that the body, on a diet, senses it is in starvation mode and develops greater metabolic efficiency. To add insult to injury, the person who loses weight is hungry much of the time due to biochemical changes that occur in starvation mode.
This is why I’ve always felt trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea, between eating and dieting. One wants me to overindulge and be miserable, the other wants me to under indulge and be miserable. Without a doubt, diets work. A co-worker has lost 28 pounds recently using the "Belly Fat Cure." He looks great! One of the managers at Swanson Health Products has lost 48 pounds on Jenny Craig. She looks fabulous! They both look happy! Weight loss provides a real “high” and a major sense of accomplishment to be sure; however, there is that sustainability factor that is troublesome.
Lately, I have been exploring the middle ground between these two extremes of behavior. It has me leaning more in favor of the two comments I got on my last post...about personal responsibility. I still feel the trap exists, but this middle ground, which combines natural health and weight loss, may be the real secret to weight loss. I’ll explore this in my next post.