Don’t Stick to Your New Year’s Diet Resolution This Year

That’s right. I said “don’t” stick to your New Year’s resolution to maintain your diet. After all, if making a resolution to diet each January was effective, why hasn’t it worked for you yet? Obviously, you need to do something differently. You’ve heard time and again that doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. So now what?

2012 New Year’s Diet Resolution: Quit Dieting

Diets don’t work. Why? Because they’re temporary and restrictive. Period. Anything you stick to for only a short time will only work a short time, and that’s if you actually stick to it. Add in the fact that the kind of dieting you’re used to is restrictive and makes obsess over what you can’t have, and when your temporary diet is over then you overdo it. So why don’t you just resolve to get out of this cycle?

Train or Retrain Your Brain: Insight from NBC Reality TV

I’m an exercise physiologist and have been trained in detail about how the human body works to gain or lose weight. Still, it never ceases to amaze me what new things there are to discover or theories there are to see proven in real life. This past season of Biggest Loser demonstrated one principle that you’ll need to understand if you want to quit dieting for good. They visited a research facility that studied the response of the human brain to food.

When a person of normal or close to normal weight sees food, their brains responded with a low to modest hunger response. When they ate, their brains responded with a modest to high level of pleasure and satisfaction. Contrast this with the brain activity of an obese person. The more obese person saw food and had a much higher craving or hunger for it. However, they had to eat much more than the normal-size person to get the same amount of pleasure from the food. Eureka!

How This Principle Applies to Your Failed Diet Attempts

The underlying principle is the more healthy your diet is, the more healthy your diet is. In other words, eating a sensible diet in moderation begats more sensible eating. It trains your brain to want less food, reduce cravings, and enjoy the taste of healthier foods. The less you eat sugar, the more sweet things taste that contain sugar. Yet, the opposite is also true for sugar, salt and fat. That means if you slowly increase or decrease healthy or unhealthy foods in your diet, your brain (sense of taste, hunger response, satisfaction) become retrained according to your adjustments.

Ever cringe and wonder how “health nuts” enjoy the taste of their food? They eat things that you imagine to taste like paste and cardboard, right? The truth is that they very much enjoy the taste of these foods in the same way you enjoy fatty, sweet and salty foods. Eureka!

Write “Future Health Nut” On Your Forehead Right Now!

This means there’s hope for you. You can become a person that actually craves carrot sticks and hummus for a snack instead of potato chips, simply by gradually reducing unhealthy foods while simultaneously increasing healthier ones. That’s it. That’s the trick. But it’s really no trick. It’s called lifestyle change and it works.