As you may know, I’ve been using a non-diet approach in my practice for some time. At first, I was apprehensive, because basically, I grew up on a diet. I was placed on my first 1000 kcal diet at 9 years of age when a family doctor said, “Oh Kelly, you just enjoy the good things too much. Here is a diet plan for you to follow for the next 3 weeks.” Care to guess how long this diet lasted? I vaguely remember adhering to it for half a day.
The worst part was I beat myself up for not being able to stick to the diet. And from then on, I was either on or off a diet, and always thinking about food, or ways to undo the ‘damage’ of overeating. I’m certain some of you relate. If you are a chronic dieter, you may find some of the following statements true:
- When you think of weight loss, you feel hopeless.
- You feel compelled to eat even when you’re not hungry.
- You’ve tried every diet on the planet and nothing works.
- You feel guilty for eating ‘bad’ foods.
So, what is a non-diet approach to weight loss? And how does it work? Isn’t it just another trick to get us on yet another diet?
Firstly, let me tell you what the non-diet approach is not.
It is not calorie counting, weighing and measuring your food, or setting unrealistic goals. Nor is it a temporary solution. It does not focus on how you eat but why you eat the way you do, and exactly what you can do about it.
For the last four weeks, I’ve been teaching a non-diet program called, Craving Change™. It’s been wonderful to see my clients change their attitude toward food. The first part of the program focuses on why it’s so difficult to change ourselves in the North American obesogenic environment. This may not seem important but when you look at how food is marketed, and the factors that influence what people eat, you are actually given an incredible tool. Knowledge, in this case, is the tool. Knowing you can significantly change factors in your environment, changes the way you interact with food.
The beginning of the program also discusses internal factors such as uncomfortable thought patterns, the inability to set boundaries, and situational factors that trigger uncomfortable eating. The next sessions of Craving Change™ are the most transformative. We discuss over fourteen strategies both during class sessions, and as homework. I teach a variety of techniques to help participants change problematic eating patterns.
As I said, I was apprehensive about this approach until I saw the incredible transformation in the behaviour and well-being of my clients. I love seeing participants light up in class while sharing their experience with new strategies. It all takes time and persistence but I’ve seen clients make major changes within a three week program.
I ask clients how much time they think they’ve spent counting calories, trying new diets, beating themselves up, hating their bodies, and waging war with food? They usually reply with eye-rolls and words like: eternity, forever, my entire life. The strategies I teach in our sessions do not take an eternity to learn but they do take practice.
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